The biggest drum, Dhak, one of the oldest instruments of Bengal is made of big wooden-shell having two parchment heads tightened by leather straps, and is hung on the shoulder slantingly when played. Its peculiar use in Bengal denoting the festivals of Saiva and Sakta type perhaps justifies the tremendous volume of sound befitting such uproarious occasions. The instrument is thus as old as the Sakta festivals. Therefore, its loud play by two light and thin sticks on one side has developed a technical method imitating all possible Tals of quick tempo. When it is played, the accompanying strokes on a metal plate, known as Kangsya or Kansar, reinforces the Tal with an equal effect of a metallic pitch. Dhak is used in major Sakta or Saiva religious ceremonies even today. In the olden days, the master-Dhak (Dhak player) used to be sumptuously remunerated during the worship of Goddess Durga. Dhak players would decorate the Dhak with features and make swinging dance-like movements while playing. This percussion instrument is hardly used with vocal music excepting in cases of dance-cum-vocal recital like Gajan of Malda and such other items.

The Dhol happens to be the most important of the percussion instruments used in folk music as well as the oldest of the useful percussion instruments of Bengal. Dhol has developed a brilliant technique of its use in different types of items - loud or moderate. The wooden-shell or medium type has two parchment-heads as played by hand on the left side and by a small stick on the right. The two sides are tightened by leather straps and a heavy tope helps it to be hung around the neck. Dhol is not a mere accompanying instrument of the music of the villages. It has been widely used with song and music of Panchali-parties and other narratives since the early days. Dhol was raised to the status of a skilled percussion instrument of technical type played with the Kavi songs in the 18th and 19th centuries. Often Kansar (Kangsya) is seen to be used as accompaniment for metallic rhythm of Tal. Connoisseurs of music used to take a fancy to expert Dhol-playing in their parlors. It is a singularly prominent solo-playing instrument in the rural areas and was accompanied to the rural imitation - Shehnai, mainly in marriage festivals of East Bengal.

Khol, widely used in a variety of folk songs, was originally borrowed from keertan. Bengals hols are clay-shells of cylindrical type, laced all around the body by leather straps, the head parchment being pasted with heavy vellum of iron filling. Khol of Manipur is known as Poong. Its shell is made of wood. As we know, the metal instrument (plates) utilised mainly is Kartal or cymbal, though cymbals of different size and shape are also in use. It has been claimed that Khol is basically a non-folk percussion instrument though used in folk music and light music of today (see earlier Padavali keertan). In Tagore music and in some other modern devotional music, Khol is extensively utilised.

Khanjari is one of the handy instruments of high round wooden frame with jingle-plates attached to the frame like miniature tambourine played by hand, popular all over India esecially with Oriya and Hindi devotional folk songs and less utilised in Bengali folk songs.


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