History of Dhol

The Dhol is an instrument dating back to the late 16th Century and the Mogul Empire. The Dhol is an evolution of an instrument called the "Nagarah" which was a single sided drum made with a wooden shell and goat hide stretched with rope. Nagarah`s would be used to drum up crowds for announcements. They were also used to alert the army of any approaching enemies, as the enemy drew nearer the drums would be played louder and faster.

The people of Punjab would celebrate a good harvest by dancing and singing to traditional folk songs. The songs would have descriptive lyrics and these would also be reflected in the dance, the dancing would also mimic the sowing of the seeds and harvesting of the crop. Often during these celebrations they would drink a drink called "Bhang". This was an intoxicating drink and was associated with the celebrations; this is where the word Bhangra comes from. Bhangra is considered the traditional dance of the Punjab.

Playing the Dhol

The drum is played using two wooden sticks, usually made out of bamboo and cane wood. The most common rhythm played on the dhol is the Chaal, which consists of 8 beats per bar. The stick used to play the bass side of the drum is a bit thicker (roughly about 10 mm in diameter) and is bent in a quarter-circular arc on the end that strikes the drum, the dagga. The other stick is much thinner and flexible and used to play the higher note end of the drum, the thili. The drum is slung over the neck of the player with a strap usually made up of ropes or woven cloth. The surface of the wooden barrel is in some cases decorated with engraved or painted patterns.

Evolution of Dhol

As time has evolved the dhol has taken a new shape and sound. The traditional belly style dhol has now been swapped with the straight barrel drum and the thin goat hide used on the treble has been swapped for a synthetic skin giving a brighter sound and better levels of sustain. The Dhol is now an instrument that is internationally recognized and due to the varying climates drums are now varnished or oiled to preserve the wood.