Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Odakuzhal (Flute)

Popular as the favourite instrument of Sree Krishna, Odakuzhal (flute) plays a prominent role in Indian minds. Also known as venu, murali and pullamkuzhal, Odakuzhal is a wind instrument made of bamboo. A simple wind instrument, the flute can evoke emotions of love and bhakti (devotion).  Flute has been popular in China, Japan and Western countries from ancient times.

A cylindrical tube shaped instrument made of a kind of bamboo with uniform bore which is closed at one end. The length and number of holes vary from one flute to the other. Every flute consists of a mouth hole (main hole) apart from six to eight holes arranged in straight line. Lengthy flutes have rich, deep and mellow tone while in small ones the tone is high pitched. And is played by holding it in an oblique position and air is blown with the upper lip into the main hole. Different ‘sthayis’ (octaves) are produced by covering the holes with the fingers. There are flutes with both ends open.

In Western countries, flutes made of metal with ‘swara’ blocks attached are popular. In India, flutes occupy a prominent position along with mridangam and veena.  Flute recital is one among the 64 arts.

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