Text Box: Gogona ( Bamboo Harp)

Class : Idiophones (plucked)

 

              There are two methods of playing Gogona, however sound produced is same in both. The First and most popular method is to hold the Gogona near open mouth ( not necessarily holding it between the teeth) of the player and pluck end of it, making the Jeebha to vibrate. A slim portion of the Body works as a spring, to effect vibration in the reed or Jeebha. In the other and more traditional method, a Muga ( An Asssamese Silk) string is attached to the plucking end of Gogona , and the string is pulled and plucked, not directly the body. In both methods the key point is changing the volume of air in mouth and produce different notes. The Dhol imitates the sound of thunder of the clound, Xutuli , the singing of birds, Pepa, the sound of breez, similarly Gogona imitates the sound of Frogs . Some artists are seen producing the sound of animals and birds to entertain the audience. The basic difference of Gogona with Jaw Harp is that, the body of the Gogona is plucked, not the reed, as in the Harp.

                 Gogona is made of Bamboo, and  requires high level of workmanship. A piece of matured bamboo is chosen to make Gogona, There is a popular belief that , a stolen ‘Bo Tola Sunga’ ( A part of Assamese traditional Weaving system) , of a garrulous  weaver gives the best Gogona. Though it is difficult to establish this believe scientifically, but a seasoned piece of bamboo is more suitable than raw ones. A seven to eight inch of piece of bamboo is scraped an finished to desired shape and then a reed (As. Jeebha)  is cut out of it carefully. This reed is the principal sound producing component  of the Gogona. Two slim bamboo pieces are inserted on the side of the reed and called ‘ Mekhela’s. The tune of Gogona depends upon the size and of the Jeebha and the placement of two ‘Mekhlela’s. Though there are various types of Gogona, the method of construction is the same for all. One important fact about Gogona is that, though it’s a very small instrument, while playing it is kept near open mouth , and the air inside the mouth works as resonator for it, and overall volume of the instrument increases considerably.

             Apart from being extensively used in Bihu of Assam, almost all Mogoloid and Kirat tribes of  Assam use Gogona in the folk music. Now a days it is compulsory for a Bihuwati,( A female Bihu  perfomer)  to play Gogona in stage competitions.  Traditionally Gogona is played both Male & Female performers. One of he interesting fact about Gogona is that, because of its small size and  Shape, when they are not playing  Gogona, during a performance, it  is used by Bihuwatis as  hairpin.

 

 

 

 

                                     Gogona is an instrument primarily used in Bihu of Assam, this is a type of  harp.    (Read more  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jew%27s_harp ) . Harps are ancients instrument, most of cultures in world found to have harps. Since Gogona is held in the mouth to play, I will be more appropriate to  call it a type of ‘ Jaw Harp’ . Gogona is a contribution of the Mongolian culture to Assam. In tribal languages in Assam,  Gogona is known by different names . According the size, Gogonas are named differently, such as Lihiri Gogona, Rmdhon Gogona, xaliki Gogona, etc, and the sound too significantly varies among them. Gogona in a fixed tunes instrument , so the sound is also of constant pitch. Gogona imitates the sound of a frog. Being a very melodious instrument, Gogona is very popular among the Bihu dancers. The Malitas of Dhol describe origin of Gogona and links it with Goddess Saraswati,

             . Most of the books on Assamese traditional Musical instruments categorized gogona under Aerophone, however,  while playing it,  the air is just used as a resonator, and the actual sound producing element of Gogona is the vibrating reed, therefore, it is kept under Idiophone here. Moreover, comparable instruments like Jaw Harp or Jews Harp are always classified as idiophones.

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1. Oxomor Badyajontro – Sri Dharmeswar Duwara- Bani Mandir

2. Bihure Birina Paat – Jaykanta Gandhiya/ Nomal Gogoi – Prithiviraj Media

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