Haryana is well-famous for the variety of folk music that is inherent in its culture. The music is the epitome of the age-old traditions and beliefs that are portrayed in the colorful and lively way through this folk art. Music of Haryana is played on special occasions and festivities; most of the folk music is based on various ragas based on Hindustani style.
Music and dance go hand in hand. Most of the festivities are the joyous celebrations that are accompanied by colorful dances that are played to the tunes of rhythmical musical beats. Several musical instruments including Dholak, Drum, Matka, Harmonium, Manjira, Damru, Shehnai, Nagara, Khanjri, Ghunguru, Tasha, and Sarangi are used while singing and dancing fiesta. The musical genius of the artists of Haryana is reflected in the use of wood and other household items in construction of some of the musical instruments.
The folk music of Haryana is categorized in two types viz classical and countryside. The classical form is linked to certain mythological legends like Barahmas, Jaimal-Phatta etc. On the other hand, the countryside music includes festive songs sung in celebrations, and change of seasons. This later type is based on legendary stories and is heavily based on Hindustani ragas like Pahari, Kafi, Pilu, Malhar, Bhairavi etc. The singing of ballads, the songs sung in praise of heroes of the state, are also hugely popular.
The popularity of folk songs can be attributed to certain communities of Haryana. Jogis (saints) sing songs on the musical instrument called sarangi; they sing several ballads like Jaimal Phatta. These spiritualistic songs are the embodiment of the heroic past. Besides then Saangis and Bhats can be credited for the popularization of folk music of Haryana. They sing heart-rending melodies based on love, romance, and heroic deeds.
Musical Instruments :
There are several musical instruments that are played during the festive celebrations. Some of these instruments are percussion-type while other are based on wind.
Dholak : It is played from both the sides. Wooden sticks or hands are used for playing this percussion instrument. Generally played on matrimonial occasions and dance performances, Dholak is a very common musical instrument. There are ropes attached to the body of the Dholak in order to adjust the pitch of the sound. In order to produce an additional effect, the players wear a ring on their fingers or attach a set of sticks to them. Dhol, the bigger version of Dholak, is played with sticks. Usually hung in front of body, the music played by this instrument is generally loud.
Damru : Built in the shape of a drum, Damru is played during ritualistic ceremonies and religious occasions. This instrument is associated with Lord Shiva who is believed to have it played during his Tandava.
Manjira : These area pair of rhythmical cymbals that are strike against each other in order to produce musical beats. The two cymbals are made up of brass and usually built in the form of a cup. Tied with each other though a chord, these cymbals are played during ceremonial occasions.
Sarangi : It is a type of string instrument that is played with a bow made from animal-hair. Made for a piece of wood, Sarangi has usually four strings whose pitch is adjusted by four pegs. Additional strings are also, sometimes, attached to the instrument to produce additional effect. This instrument is very common and forms an important part of music of Haryana. It is widely used in folk songs and classical performances.
Iktara : This age-old instrument has only a single string that is attached on a piece of bamboo. The singers carry it with them and before playing into hum of their voices, the pitch is checked. Favorite among the saints and bards, Iktara is an important musical instrument of Haryana.
Shehnai : This wind instrument is played by mouth. The tubular structure of Shehnai has several holes so the controlled breath-tunes can be allowed to play with wind. This musical instrument is an important of marriage ceremonies.
Been : Known for its long association with snake charmers, Been is a wind instrument that is widely played during dance performances. It is played with mouth and the player has to create a continuous flow of air to keep playing the music.
Chimta : It is a traditional musical instrument that consists of a set of two metallic prongs that produce tinkling sounds when strike against each other. Chimta has been the long companion of Jogis and saints who used to wander from place to place while creating musical beats on Chimta.
Harmonium : This classical instrument is built in rectangular shape. It has several keys that are played to force out wind and produce music. Still used widely in cultural performances, harmonium is an important part of the music of Haryana.
Khanjari : Used in dance performances, Khanjari is a slight variation of daph with ghungurus attached to the body of the instrument.
Khartals : These are the wooden cymbals that are struck against each other to produce musical beats. To produce the tinkling sounds, metallic rings are attached to Khartals.
In addition, use of instruments like Nagara, Jhil, Shankha, Dotara, Ghatam, and Taasha etc is also in full vogue.
Musical Themes :
Most of the themes of music of Haryana are derived form day to day life. They are the mirrors of the life of common life and exemplify their happiness, sorrows and other emotions. Some of the music is based on ballads which praise the heroes and their brave deeds. The music is played on different occasions like marriage, birth, advent of new seasons, and cultural festivities.