Bansuri Sizes


Bansuris are made and played in sizes ranging from sub-piccolo all the way to mega-alto flute equivalents. Usually, concert instruments play a tonic note (which is taken with three finger holes covered) at around D-sharp or E-natural. A flute with an E-natural tonic is a whole-step higher than an orchestral alto flute.

Because the bansuri is a keyless instrument, playing a large one does require a substantial amount of practice to attain the proper grip and stretch out the hands to play with good control. Invariably, players begin on smaller, higher instruments and gradually work their way down (up?) to the concert-size.

The instrument recommended for How to Play the Bansuri is pitched at a tonic of C-natural (sounding on the third space of the treble clef). This is a very conservative choice and a comfortable size for any player, even a child aged ten to twelve. Any size of bansuri may be used to work through the material of the book. However, the C-natural instrument will work best because the examples on the accompanying tape are played on this size instrument. Therefore the student with a C-natural instrument will be able to avoid a possibly disconcerting mismatch of pitch. Additionally, since some of the exercises are provided in staff notation, these will sound at pitch when played on this instrument.

Six or Seven Holes?

The book is based on the method developed by Pannalal Ghosh which utilizes the bansuri with seven finger holes exclusively. While a six-hole instrument can be used to play the material, the results will not be as satisfactory, due to the inherent limitations of that instrument. The seventh fingering hole enables minimally an extra half-step of range, but it also creates many more possibilities of fingerings on various notes, particularly in negotiating register breaks in both directions.


Bansuris in the recommended size and various qualities can be purchased from

The Ali Akbar College of Music Store


One World Flutes


Buckingham Music Company


Harsh Wardhan, bansuri maker


Ravi Shankar Mishra, bansuri maker

back to Lyon Leifer’s home page