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The shehnai is a quadruple reeded instrument played in grand and auspicious events. It is assumed that its origin came from Persia, as the name can be interpreted as the nai (Arabic flute) of the shah (Persian ruler or emperor). Other sources have interpreted the origin of the shehnai being a refined version of the snake charmer (pungi or bin).


Throughout history, the shehnai gained respect as a classical instrument. Unlike many of the classical instruments of North India, the shehnai has a drone shehnai played constantly, instead of a tanpura. Like the bansuri, the shehnai artist will have a backup shehnai player playing whenever the main artist takes small breaks. As far as the rhythmic accompaniment is concerned, the nagara is considered the prime choice, despite its lack of classical attributes. Sometimes, a mix between tabla and nagara is implemented or even dholak is used.


 AUDIO CLIP: Shehnai


UPDATED: March 12, 2012