Dholak Info.

in Dholak, Info

Dholak is a South Asian barrel-shaped, two-headed hand drum made of one piece of wood. It is also popularly known as dholki. Its construction is very simple. It may either have traditional lacing or turnbuckle tuning. In Traditional lacing(rope-tuned), Steel rings are used for tuning and pegs are twisted inside the laces. In Turnbuckle tuning(bolt-tuned), nuts and bolts help in producing tension.

The two heads of a dholak vary in sizes with right one being smaller in size. The right head has a simpler membrane and produces a high pitched sound.

Right Head

The left head is relatively bigger in size and contains special coating (a mixture of sand, tar, and clay also popularly known as the dholak masala) on its inner side.This coating not only helps in lowering the pitch but also helps in fine-tuning of the same.

Left Head

The shell of dholak is made from a single piece of wood, generally a hard wood such as Sheesham. It is believed that harder the wood, more shriller and cleaner sound it produces. The shape of the dholak decides the quality and type of sound it will produces which is a very important factor in itself since a dholak is all about it rhythm, its sound & sound quality and pitch it produces.

Dholak Shell

A dholak is about 16 inches in length.Its one head is about 9 inches wide and other one is 7 inches in width. It weighs about 4-5 kgs. The dholak is nothing more than the smaller version of the dhol.

The dholak is either played

  • by placing on the player’s lap or,

  • while standing, slung from the shoulder or waist or,

  • pressing down with one knee while sitting on the floor.

The most commonly played rhythm on the dholak is a “quick double-dotted figure” that may be counted in rhythmic solfege as “ONE -tah and -tah TWO -tah and -tah THREE-E (rest on ‘and’) -tah, FOUR AND” or a long string of double-dotted notes.

The high-pitched head is played using a thin stick around 6 mm in width made from solid rattan or hardwood. The other head is played either using a hand or a thicker, semi-angled stick which is analogous to a small hockey stick in shape and dimension.

Dholak is frequently used in Indian Cinema due its popular genre of music.It is also widely used in Baithak gana, tan singing(a local Indian music of the Caribbean), Qawwali, Marathi(laavani),  Bhangra, Indian Light Classical Music, Film Songs, Folk Music, Geetbhajans and kirtans. It is also Widely used in Indian Wedding Ceremonies in almost all states of India where young adults and children sing and dance to the beats of the dholak.

At weddings and religious occasions, women play the dholak to produce melodious sound and rhythm while singing. It is a common sight where a woman beats the dholak and other one strikes the barrel with a spoon to add to music. Sometimes tassels are also used for decorating the dholak.

Learning Dholak is easy & regular classes are also conducted for same. It is said that this instrument used to occupy a position of considerable prestige but today it is merely related to Indian film and folk music.

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