The difference between the Bansuri (India) and the concert flute is actually quite a long list, and there are a number of similarities as well. For example, the Bansuri is a true flute meaning that it is blown ‘across’ instead of ‘into’. It is a hollow tube of certain lengths with one end capped to push the air through the instrument.
We are all interested in flutes from around the world.
Although the Bansuri is a native instrument from India, there are many flutists around the world who love their deep, earthy tones, and so they have one or more in their collection as well. Just like people and nationalities, our world is becoming more blended by the day. We find flutes of all kinds in every country. And with easy purchase online and shipping services, this trend is not going to stop.
The Bansuri is oftentimes referred to as a ‘bamboo’ flute because it is typically always made out of bamboo. Traditional flutes from around the world are generally always made of hardwoods or materials that can be found more easily in nature.
Keep in mind though, that technology and the price of different materials is making it so that even the traditional instruments are now being experimentally made with glass, metals, and other types of elements.
The concert flute (which is part of the question today) is definitely a ‘blown-across flute’. It also can be made of different materials, but the most common is the silver, nickel type of flute.
I’d say the biggest difference between these two instruments are definitely the keys. The concert flute (also known as classical flute) has many holes and keys.
In fact, the Bansuri has 8 holes which are covered and uncovered in different combinations, and the concert flute has 15 holes throughout the instrument (not including the hole you blow across). There are also 26 different buttons and keys on a standard flute that are used in combo to create even more tones and pitches.
With this last bit of information, you probably can see that it’s possible to play many more notes on the concert flute which is considered a chromatic instrument.
Traditional flutes that only have 6 or 8 holes are designed to play from certain scales and only about 2 ½ octaves where as the concert flute can play 3 + full octaves and is more direct in pitch because it doesn’t use as much ‘note bending’ with fingers being slowly drawn on and off… this can be considered a benefit when playing the type of music that uses exact pitches, but a disadvantage if bending and ¼ tones are wished for.
There are other differences you can notice between the bansuri and the concert flute, especially if you have the chance to see them played side by side. Have you ever played the bansuri? What is your experience? Let us know! We are all interested in flutes from around the world.