Dhol - The Indian Percussion instrument of Punjab


It is said to have been invented by the Persians. When they migrated to North India, it was incorporated into Gujarati, Punjabi, Rajasthani and other North Indian cultures. Nowadays, it is a very popular percussion instrument in modern Punjabi language

The dhol is a double-sided barrel drum which is played mostly as an accompaniment with the Punjab traditional dance Bhangra, and Garba in Gujarat, and in Qawwali. While being accompanied on Qawwali music, the term dhol is used to describe a similar, but smaller drum which is used with the smaller tabla. 

The typical sizes of the dhol varies according to the states or regions. For example in Punjab, the dhol has generally seen of the size to fit the needs of the bhangra troupes who do are into peppy fast paced beats and energetic dances, while in Persia, or some of the Pakistan provinces and Gujarat, the dhol still remains as a large and bulky percussion instrument that is capable of producing the loud bass required for dances and music of those regions. 

Making of a Dhol: The dhol is made of a wooden barrel with animal hide stretched over its open ends and covering them completely which ultimately create and produce the required sound. These animal skin patches can be stretched or loosened with the help of the tightening mechanism which are either made up of  ropes that are interwoven, or are fixed with the help of nuts and bolts. Tightening or loosening the skins gently and subtly is to alter the pitch of the drum sound. The stretched animal skin on one of the ends is thicker than the other and the thickness helps to produces a deep, low frequency sound while and thinner end of the dhol is used to produce higher frequency sound.

It is interesting to note that there is also the Armenian Dhol. This dhol is played with hands of the performer. It is usually placed and positioned in a certain manner between the legs of the performer to play or is placed on the lap and then played. The drummer is supposed to hit one side of the dhol. The Armenian Dhol is wider but shorter than the Indian Dhol.

Playing Dhol:  The Indian Percussion instrument Dhol with the help of  two wooden sticks, on most occasions made from Acacia. One wooden stick for each end of the end of the dhol. The stick which is used to create the bass sound and that side of the drum which produces  the bass sound is a bit thicker stick and is bent in a 1/4th circular arc on the end which strikes the drum, the dagga. The other stick is comparatively much thinner as well as flexible. It is used to play the higher note end of the drum, called the thili. The drum is tied and hung over the neck of the player with a strap made up of Rope. A rope is a nothing but a simple length of fiber, twisted or braided  together to improve strength so that it can hang without creating any imbalance or discomfort.  
The surface of the wooden barrel is in some cases decorated with engraved or painted patterns.

Dhol used to be a popular Indian percussion musical instrument in both formal and informal dance performances for decades. Dhol players were once sought-after individuals for occasions of celebrations like weddings and family and religious functions. 

With time introduction of electronic instruments and taped music has led to a decline the importance of Dhol. Let us not forget to mention here that the formal Bhangra performances still involves traditional dhol, however the casual revelries are mostly carried out sans dhol. Nevertheless, dhol still figures in the studio recordings of gujarati folk dance Raas/Garba and Punjabi Traditional Dance Bhangra.

The dhol is popular not only in North and West India and Pakistan, but is much-loved throughout India. A younger cousin of the dhol is called dholak or dholki.

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