The SwarShala Indian music software includes Pepa and over 80 other perfectly sampled virtual Indian instruments.
The pepa is a wind instrument used in traditional music in the region of Assam, India. It is presumed to have been first created and introduced by buffalo herders, and is also referred to as Phenpha amongst Boro language speakers. The instrument is made from a buffalo horn that has been soaked in water or buffalo dung to soften, before being hollowed out. The hollow horn is then attached to a neckpiece with several holes along its length and has a mouthpiece made from reed.
The pepa is usually accompanied by percussion and string instruments. It is played by blowing air into the mouthpiece, while using your fingers to alternately block and release the small holes along the neck to create a varying sound and pitch that emanates from the wide end of the horn. The sound produced is a rich high tone, often used to indicate the beginning of a ceremony. It is also synonymous with the coming of spring in April, as the pepa is always heard at the Assamese New Year and spring festival, called Rongali or Bohag Bihu.
Bihu also refers to two other important festivals in India where the pepa can be heard, namely Kongali or Kati Bihu celebrated in the month of October, and Bhogali or Magh Bihu in January. Other variations of Pepa were also used by the Garo, Dimasa, and Tripuri ancient tribes. Pepa can be found in other parts of Asia as well, including Tibet and some parts of China.
While a prominent feature of traditional music and dances displayed at ceremonies in the past, the pepa has become an increasingly rare find in recent years. This is due to a decline of the buffalo population as a result of shrinking pastoral lands. Fewer buffalos means fewer large horns that can be used to craft the pepa. Despite this, their popularity remains constant in North-East Indian communities, and the pepa can even be viewed in some national museums.
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