Venu : Introduction

The venu (Sanskrit: वेणु; veṇu) is a bamboo transverse flute used in the Carnatic music. It is also called by various other names such as pullankuzhal (புல்லாங்குழல்) in Tamil, പുല്ലാങ്കുഴല്‍ in Malayalam, and ಕೊಳಲು (kūḷalu) in Kannada. It is known as pillana grōvi (పిల్లన గ్రోవి) or Vēṇuvu (వేణువు) in Telugu (Andhra Pradesh).

How to play Venu?


Construction and technique

One of the oldest musical instruments of India, the instrument is a key-less transverse flute made of bamboo. The fingers of both hands are used to close and open the holes. It has a blowing hole near one end, and eight closely placed finger holes. The instrument comes in various sizes. The venu is also a highly respected instrument and those who play it are expected to appreciate it, for it is considered a gift to be able to play it.

The venu is capable of producing two and half octaves with the help of over-blowing and cross fingering. The flute is like the human voice in that it is monophonous and also has a typical two and half octave sound reproduction. Sliding the fingers on and off the holes allows for a great degree of ornamentation, important in the performance of raga-based music.


The flute (Venu) finds great mention in Indian mythology and folklore having been listed as among the 3 original instruments meant for music alongsr with the Saraswati veena and mridangam (veena-venu-mridanga trinity).[citation needed] However it is strange that there is no name mentioned for the typical flute that the Lord plays.

The venu is associated with the Hindu god Krishna, who is often depicted playing it. This kind of flute is mainly used in South India.The Lord Vishnu is portrayed as Sri Venugopala – playing the flute of Creation.


Venu players of the past

1. Palladam Sanjiva Rao
2. H. Ramachandra Shastry, a disciple of Palladam Sanjiva Rao.
3. T. R. Mahalingam, a child venuist prodigy who started playing the flute at the age of five years. He is most popularly known as “Mali” or sometimes “Flute Mali.”
4. Dindigul SP Natarajan, Disciple of T.R.Mahalingam
5. B.N. Suresh
6. T. Viswanathan, grandson of Veena Dhanammal and brother of Balasaraswati
7. T. K. Radhakrishnan, son of the Legendary composer Lalithadasar and disciple of Palladam Sanjiva Rao
8. T. A. Hariharan – Disciple of Sri T K Radhakrishnan and staff Artiste of AIR Chennai
9. Cochin Ranganathan known for his unique style of Swaraprastharas

Venu players of the present

1. B. Shankar Rao (b. 1922), largely self-taught, great friend and informal student of Late Mali, has enriched the field of Carnatic music for seven decades and continues to do so personally and through his students.
2. Prapancham Sita Raman, disciple of T.R.Mahalingam
3. N. Ramani, (b. 1934), disciple of T. R. Mahalingam
4. T. S Sankaran – Disciple of T R Mahalingam
5. B. M. Sundar Rao – Disciple of T R Mahalingam
6. Sikkil Sisters – Kunjumani & Neela (b. 1930 and 1940)
7. Sikkil Mala Chandrasekar, (b. 1963)
8. K. S. Gopalakrishnan
9. G.S. Srikrishnan
10. V.K. Raman
11. G.S. Rajan
12. K.Bhaskaran, (b. 1961), disciple of Smt. Mayavaram Saraswati Ammal.
13. S. Shashank
14. Prapancham S.Balachandran disciple of Dr.N.Ramani
15. Chaitanya kumar
16. Sriharsha Ramkumar
17. Rajkamal Nagraj
18. Bharathwaj Gopalakrishnan
19. Kudamaloor Janardanan