The SwarShala Indian music software includes Khartaal and over 80 other perfectly sampled virtual Indian instruments.

About Khartaal:

Khartaal is a musical instrument made of wood that has been carved out to give space for a hollow section where fingers can be inserted. It comes in two types; the open-ended and the closed one. The closed type holds shakers that have been mounted within a carved-out space. The open-ended ones house the shakers within open compartments of the wooden handle.

Khartal is an instrument that dates back many centuries ago, and it formed a basis for almost every folk song. The name was derived from two Sanskrit words that mean hand and clapping. Indeed, this instrument is handheld and clapped from time to time depending on the rhythm of the song being sung.

Close-up of Khartaal

It is made of either wood or metal and nowadays toughened plastic. Interestingly, the pair of Khartal is regarded as male and female, while the single one is said to be male. The male one is made of thicker wood and should be held using the thumb finger, while the female is thinner and should be held using the middle finger.

The players normally clap the pieces of wood being held by the opposite hands at high speed to keep up with the rhythm of a folk song. The jingles then produce an accompanying sound that complements the pitch produced by the wooden material.

This musical instrument is a good accompaniment for other musical instruments, especially religious songs. Some of the songs that employ this instrument are religious songs like Kirtans and Bhajans. Far from that, most theatres of secular songs usually make use of this particular instrument.

One of the singers who have employed this instrument in his songs is Bihari Yadav. While singing Biraha, he used a pair of Khartal in his hands, and when he stroked them, very beautiful and rhythmic music was produced. It is worth understanding that this instrument is closer to clapping hands when singing, but the presence of the jingles has improved the quality of sound produced.


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