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Sarangi

The sarangi is the popular bowed instrument of North Indian music. Its name comes from the words ‘sau rangi’ meaning one-hundred colors. Many musicians prefer this instrument, as it has a unique vocal quality that no instrument can replicate. Made from a single block of wood, it contains a soundboard made of goat skin. There are four strings made from goat intestines (gut), eleven upper sympathetic strings tuned to the notes of the raga, and thirty-five side sympathetically tuned chromatically. There is no fingerboard and no frets, which adds a major component to its difficulty. In addition, the playing action requires one to use one’s fingernail and slide up or down, as opposed to the fingertip. Immensely difficult to play and tune, the use of the sarangi has been on the decline, due to the rising popularity of the harmonium, esraj, and dilruba. The sarangi has been initially used to accompany vocalists, although it is gaining reputation as a solo instrument.

 

 AUDIO CLIP: Sarangi

 

UPDATED: March 12, 2012