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date: 14 November 2019

Bā̃sī [bansi, bā̃slī]locked

  • Alastair Dick
  •  and Geneviève Dournon


[bansi, bā̃slī]

Term in the north Indian languages for flutes of different types (bā̃s: ‘bamboo’).

In the eastern regions of the subcontinent—Bengal, Orissa, Assam, and so on (eastern India and Bangladesh)—bā̃sī (here pronounced bā̃shi) commonly denotes a transverse flute, mostly of bamboo, which abounds in the area. The most usual type is stopped by a natural node at one end, and has a simple lateral mouth-hole and a number of fingerholes. Sizes vary greatly, but the typical rustic flute is fairly small; large versions are found especially in Bangladesh. Flutes of the tribal peoples of the region include the tirāyu, tirio, rutu, and murlī. In Orissa the duct flute is also termed bā̃sī (dobandī bā̃sī, ekbandī bā̃sī).

In the Raipur and Bilaspur districts of Madhya Pradesh (central India), bā̃sī denotes an end-blown duct flute. The bamboo tube, 40 cm long, has five fingerholes and a thumbhole. The duct at the upper end consists of a plug of wax partly blocking off the bore, which causes the air to strike the sharp edge of a small opening made in the wall. The opening is partly covered by a slip of bamboo bark which conducts the air current in the correct direction. Like the ...

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