Have you ever wondered what the 7th hole on the bansuri is for? Or how you can actually play it, since sometimes it seems like its just too far away? If so then you are in the right place!
While most bansuri players in the world play six hole style, there are a small number of flute players whose playing includes regular use of the seventh hole. I am one of them! My guru (Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao) taught me from the very beginning the multitude of benefits of the 7th hole. Other well-known bansuri players who make or made use of the 7th hole include Panallal Ghosh, and my gurubais, GS Sachdev and Ronu Majumdar. On this page I will explain to you WHY, WHEN & HOW to play the 7th hole.
The 7th hole of the bansuri visible at the far right.
Video: The 7th Hole On Bansuri
Originally published on the Bansuri Bliss YouTube Channel as the inaugural episode of the Bansuri Q & A series, in this video I answer the eternal question: “What is the 7th hole for, and how is it used?”. I also explain the importance of the 7th hole. I hope this inspires you to purchase a seven hole flute or to begin to make use of the 7th hole that your flute may already have.
Video: How To Reach The 7th Hole
Originally published on the Bansuri Bliss YouTube Channel as Episode 009 in the Bansuri Q & A series, in this video I discuss HOW to play the 7th hole – specifically how to reach it. The video was inspired by a question I received from a student named David, who asked:
“Dear Kerry, I cannot yet reach the bottom hole. While I have fairly long slender digits, my fingers are not as flexible as yours. Is there anything I can do to stretch further?”
I provided these tips, discussed in the video:
(1) Ensure your flute is made with a proper 7th hole (one that can indeed be played).
(2) Beginners should play small or medium sized flutes. Start on a G flute (Sa with 3 holes closed equals G) or smaller. Don’t play large F or E flutes until you can play on a G.
(3) Are you holding your hand in a poor position for hitting the hole? I give tips in the video for how to hold your hand in order to facilitate playing the 7th hole.
(4) Spend more time practicing the 7th hole (do exercises with Pa and Ma).
(5) Stretches: you can use those Chinese balls they sell in Chinatown, and my favorite, which is glowpoi (make sure you have loop handles that you stick a finger through to hold on to, as opposed to a ball shaped handle that you grab on to; the former opens your hand, whereas the latter closes your hand).
With no further ado, here is the video…
Purchasing A Seven Hole Flute
It is important to note that many flute makers have little experience making seven hole flutes and thus you must ensure that your flute maker feels confident in their ability to create a well made 7th hole. A well-made 7-hole bansuri is one in which the pinky finger can reach and cover the 7th hole (i.e. the hole is not too small, not too large, not too close, not too far), AND the Teevra Ma produced by closing all seven holes should be in tune and of equal pitch to the Teevra Ma produced when all holes are open (which is the most common way to get the note). If you have questions about the 7th hole or acquiring a quality bansuri, feel free to contact us for advice.
The 7th hole of the bansuri: not too big, not too small, not too far, not too close, not too high and not too low…just right!
Continue Your Learning
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Whatever you do, best of luck playing the 7th hole and enjoy your newfound capabilities on ragas like Yaman and Malkauns!
The author, Dr. Kerry Kriger, playing an afternoon raga on the island of Gozo, in Malta, September 21st, 2019.
In reply to a YouTube comment about the 7th and 8th holes, I wrote this response:
“Hi. I have two videos about the 7th hole, and one about the 8th hole:
Between those three, I believe I’ve covered most of what there is to know related to why they exist and how to play them. For info on how to place the 7th hole, and the relationship between distance, hole width and volume, I discuss it in the freely accessible Bansuri Buyer’s Guide.
Unless someone dedicates the time to practicing the 7th hole, they will likely not do well with it, and may even say “It’s Too Far Away!”. Chances are they never practiced it and never watched my videos, They also likely do not have a guru, breaking another fundamental rule of learning ragas.
Nobody needs a 7th hole. But I would not want to go without one.”