Have you ever wondered what the 8th 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, and even sometimes the 8th hole. Personally, I love the sound of low Shuddh Ma during Malkauns, especially when it has the full sound that comes from using the 8th hole (as opposed to using 7 holes and an inward roll of the flute, which is another way to get the note).
Prepare to understand the uses of the 8th hole of the bansuri!
Video: The 8th Hole On Bansuri
Originally published on the Bansuri Bliss YouTube Channel as Episode 017 of the Bansuri Q & A series, in this video I answer the eternal question: “What is the 8th hole for, and how is it used?”. I hope this inspires you to purchase an eight hole flute or to begin to make use of the 8th hole that your flute may already have.
The video was inspired by a question I received from Morgan Redman, who asked:
“The 8th Hole. Thanks for your answer about the 7th hole. What about the 8th? My nicer bansuris have 8 holes. The 7th and 8th are actually on the bottom, and slightly staggered. Occasionally, I use the 7th hole by bringing it into contact with the outside of my leg. But, I have never figured out how to use the 8th hole properly.”
I provided these tips, discussed in the video:
The 8th hole improves the timbre of the flute (helping your tone) and enables you to play a beautiful sounding low Shuddh Ma…the deepest note you produce on bansuri. The 7th hole combined with a rolling of the flute can also get Shuddh Ma, but the tonal quality is better and the volume higher when using the 8th hole. Play the 8th hole by closing the first seven holes and then closing the 8th hole using your thigh/quadriceps (a few inches above the knee.
A properly made 8th hole should NOT be on the bottom of the flute, as that would force you to close it with your knee, which has a small surface area and is thus sub-optimal. Rather, the 8th hole should be on the side of the flute away from your body (towards the audience), about 120 degrees offset from the main six holes (4pm on a clock).
With no further ado, here is the video…
Recorded August 17, 2018 in Manassas, VA. Tanpura is set at F (+8 cents).
Final Thoughts On Eight Hole Bansuris
It is important to note that many flute makers have little experience making eight hole flutes and thus you must ensure that your flute maker feels confident in their ability to create a well made 8th hole. Before you buy your next bansuri, regardless of how many holes it will have, I encourage you to read through the Bansuri Buyer’s Guide, which anyone with a free Bansuri Bliss account can access.
If you wish to master the bamboo flute and the classical music of northern India, become a Bansuri Bliss Member today. We will teach YOU how to play in the traditional style, while using modern day technologies to accelerate your learning.
Best of luck playing with the 8th hole and enjoy your bansuri playing!
The 8th hole of the bansuri can be seen at the left of the photo. The 7th hole is not visible. The mouth hole does not count in the numbering system.
More Lessons On The 7th & 8th Holes
I have two videos about the 7th hole:
For info on how to place the 7th hole and 8th hole while making a flute, and the relationship between distance, hole width and volume, I discuss it in the Bansuri Buyer’s Guide, which anyone with a free Bansuri Bliss account can access.
Nobody needs a 7th hole or an 8th hole. But they sure are nice to have!