Reed > Aerophone.
> South Asia.
specimens are from Ian Mackenzie, from a trip to Rajasthan India.
Shenai or known by its alternate names Sahnai, Shanai, Shehnai
or Mangal Vadya, is a double-reed aerophone found through out
India. The shenai can be historically linked to a Central Asian
instrument called a “naubat” that was played in military bands.
In Rajasthan the shenai is accompanied by the Dukar-Tikar (a
type of kettle drum) both are played in the Naqara genre. The
sound of the shenai is auspicious, as a result it is used in
North India for weddings, ceremonial procession, lunar occasions
and festivals. In South India the Nadaswaram is closely
identical to the shenai, accept for the volume and length.
name shenai has derived from several words, that include [Saina]
the name its player [she] meaning “breath” and [nai] meaning
flute. In the Persian language the name shenai means [king] and
[flute] or “the king's flute”. Along time ago a shah had banned
the punji in his court due to its shrill sound. So a barber
belonging to a family of musicians is thought to improve the
shenai from the punji. In the 1960s the Shenai found its self in
the Wonderwall recording by George Harrison who introduced the
shenai to its Western audiences.
the shenai is played in pairs, the first shenai is a lead instrument
and the [sur] is a drone instrument. Both of these instruments would
often be accompanied by percussion. In the hands of a masterful
player the shenai can express great subtleties in the performance.
When learning the shenai a student undergoes long hours of practice,
a lot of patience, circular breathing and a good set of lungs are
required to fully master this instrument.
Shenai is constructed from a conical wooden bore that is
approximately 50 centimeters in length. Shenai shorter to longer
size in length. A metal bell often of brass is affixed to the bottom
end. On the top end of the instrument a hollow thin metal tube is
inserted in the instrument. The shenai has roughly 7 to 8 finger
holes and no thumb-hole. A cane reed is tied together and placed
onto the mandrel. This is achieved by tying the cane reed together
after the reed has been cut and folded in a particular manner.
Multiple coloured thread is wrapped around the tubing for
Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments pages 283, 284 by Stanley
Sadie Vol. 3. K. S. Kothari, Indian Folk Musical Instruments, New
Dheli 1968; B.C. Deva -The double reed aerophone in India 1975. N. A
Jairazbhoy The South Asian Double Reed Aerophone 'reconsidered' EM,
1980. A. Dick Earlier History of the Shawm in India.