From Court Musicians to International Concerts
The origin of the shehnai is quite fascinating. The word “shehnai” refers to royal. Since it was first played in Shah’s chambers and was played by a nai (barber), the instrument was named “shahnay”. The sound of the shehnai began to be considered auspicious. Shehnai is made out of wood, with a double reed at one end and a metal or wooden flared bell at the other end. Its sound is thought to create and maintain a sense of auspiciousness and sanctity and, as a result, is widely used during weddings, processions, and in temples, although it is also played in concerts. The Instrument may have evolved since the Persian Nay. There are representations of Nay on Egyptian tombs dating to 3000 BC Historically, in India, Shehnai was one of nine instruments associated with the sets of royal courts. Ustad is considered one of the greatest exponents of the shehnai. He played the shehnai with such expressive virtuosity that he became a leading Hindustani classical music artist. His name was indelibly linked with the woodwind instrument. While the shehnai had long held importance as a folk instrument played primarily schooled in traditional ceremonies, Khan is credited with elevating its status and bringing it to the concert stage.