Shehnai, Woodwind Instrument

Well Known Indian Woodwind Instrument – The Shehnai

The Shehnai is a very well known Indian Woodwind Instrument also known as the (North) Indian Oboe.

It is customary to play the Shehnai in many North Indian weddings since its sound is considered to be very melodious & auspicious.

Usually at the entrance of the wedding venue, Shehnai players can be seen seated, playing their happy tunes and welcoming the guests. In other cases, when live performances are not possible, recorded Shehnai music is played in the background.

What does the Shehnai Look Like?

It is quite simple in look and feel. The tube-like body of the Shehnai is made of wood. It is slim on top and expands towards the rear end into a brass bell.

There are usually about eight (6 to 9) holes on the wooden body. Being a Quadruple Reed WoodWind Musical Instrument, the Shenhai has two sets of double reeds – two upper reeds and two lower reeds.

Origin of the Shehnai

There are several different interpretations about how the Shehnai was invented, the most common being that the Shehnai originated in the Kashmir Valley, in India. Other beliefs state that the Shehnai was named after the King or Shah in who’s court the Shehnai was played and the Barber or Nai who was instrumental in giving it the form it has today. Hence, the instrument was called the “Sheh-Nai”.

Famous Shehnai Artists

Some well known Shehnai Artists who played a major role in popularising the instrument and providing it global acceptance include –

  •     Ustad Bismillah Khan
  •     Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan
  •     Gangadhar Sant
  •     Lokesh Anand

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