The bansuri (Hindi: बांसुरी);(Bangla: : বাঁসুরী)) is a transverse alto flute of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, made of a single length of bamboo with six or seven open finger holes. An ancient musical instrument associated with cowherds and the pastoral tradition, it is intimately linked to the love story of Krishna and Radha. The North Indian bansuri was traditionally used as a soprano instrument primarily for accompaniment in light compositions including film music.
The sound from a bansuri comes from resonance in the air column inside it. The length of this column can be varied by closing or opening the holes. At the same time, keeping a hole half-open helps in getting a flat note. The ‘sa’ (on the Indian sargam scale, or equivalent ‘do’ on the octave) note is obtained by covering the top three holes from the mouth-hole. The higher and lower octaves are played by changing one’s embouchure. The flat portion of fingers, and not the tips, are used to cover the holes as this gives better control and ease while playing the half-holes. Bansuris of different sizes are used to play different tonalities. The longer bansuris with larger bore are usually for lower octaves and the slimmer ones for higher octaves.