The single wooden Kartal and double wooden khartal are traditional Indian hand held percussion instruments fashioned with pairs of metal disks. Kartal are very popular among Sikhs and frequently played with great enthusiasm as a rhythm instrument especially during group kirtan, an important part of Sikhism worship services.
Kartal, and other hand held cymbals, are played to keep time with harmonium, tabla, dilruba, or other vaja instruments, while singing sacred shabads. The Jhika stick has sets of cymbals along both sides, and is shaken to produce sound. Chhanae, or finger cymbals, also referred to as Manjira, or Zill, may be played with one, or both hands to produce a rhythmic tinkling sound.
Due to Western influence and availability, non traditional instruments such as the round, and crescent, tambourine, and closely related jingle sticks, are becoming increasingly popular with Sikhs for use in kirtan.
Khartal is a set of two wooden clappers. The double khartal are about 8 to 12 inches in length, about 2 to 3 inches in width, and about an inch or so thick. Thin round metal zingle cymbals are threaded on to a thin metal rod inset into a carved wooden frame. One of the double khartal is carved and sculptured to fit fingers, and the other khartal is carved and sculptured to fit the thumb, so that both may be played while using just one hand. The flattened center edge of both khartal are lined with metal strips, which protect the wood, and make a distinct sound when played by clapping the edges together.
Though the double khartal are designed to be played with just one hand, they are commonly played holding by one khartal in either hand and clapping them together with both hands, or by rapping one against the other. The double Khartal may also played individually by shaking, or clapping, just one against the hand. The zingle disks make a jingle sound similar to tambourine cymbals.
Indian hand held cymbals, or Manjira (also phonetically spelled Majira, Manjera, Manzira, Majeera), are a kind of small heavy weight hand held cymbal, of brass, or bronze, connected by a cord, string, or leather tether. The Manjira may have a center dome, and are played using both hands to clap the cymbals together. The Manjira range in size and weight from 1 1/2 inches up to about 2 1/2 inches.
(Similar Tibetan meditation cymbals, or prayer chimes, called Timsha or, Tingsha or Dinghsha, are small heavy weight brass, or bronze, cymbals often engraved with Tibetan symbols.)
Tabla and Harmonium Resources
Kartal of every style are used to accompany the harmonium and tabla during sing along style kirtan in both home programs the gurdwara.
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