Music to the years: Musical instruments from the Indus Valley Civilisation
An Indian researcher and musicologist, Shail Vyas, has recreated musical instruments that he claims existed during the Indus Valley Civilisation
A lot has been written about the musical styles and instruments that existed centuries ago. Now, researcher and musicologist Shail Vyas claims to have recreated musical instruments that existed during the Indus Valley Civilisation. A Video of Songs of Mystery, the name he has given this research, was launched two weeks ago. It was attended by popular composer and Indian classical musician Shankar Mahadevan.
Explaining what got him interested in taking up this research, Shail says, “In 2011, I was reading a story that was set around 300 BC. It mentioned a scene in which a king was resting and a musician was playing an instrument. I wondered how the music was at that time. After a lot of research, I figured that we don’t know much about music in that period. That’s how it started. I kept the Indus Valley Civilisation as the first part of my research. My intention is to understand and recreate the journey of Indian music.”
The researcher calls his project a combination of music, archaeology and modern technology. He has recreated 10 stringed, percussion and wind instruments, which he believes existed at the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation. “One of them is a harp-like instrument with a body designed like a bull. I have named it Nandi Veena. There’s also an instrument made using metallic pots. Although clay pots such as ghatam are still used, the tonal quality of this one is different. Some instruments are similar to the dhol, tasha, manjeera and the gong,” he says.
Explaining how he ensured that his findings were authentic, Shail says, “Well-known archaeologists, historians, musicians and experts on sound production and musical arrangements helped me with my research. Some of the instruments that I have recreated are prototypes. We’ve used high-end technology to model their sounds.”
Shail is also seeking the government’s support to take his research forward. “This is an independent effort as of now. There’s a lot of work to be done. I am seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s help to take this ahead,” he says.
Watch I Mohenjo Daro: A Song of Mystery?