Lady playing Swarbat :Sarod - the Indian Lute... Raja Ravi Varma Oil Paintings Picture Images Gallery

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Lady playing Swarbat :Sarod - the Indian Lute...
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The Sarod is a very popular instrument in North Indian Classical Music. Although not as popularly recognized as the Sitar, the Sarod has its own position in Indian Classical Music. Its deep tonality and rich timbre attracts young and old to the sounds of this instrument.

There are several conflicting hypotheses about the origins of the Sarod. Some say that it was an instrument that was imported into India from Persia, while others claim that it was invented in the Indian sub-continent during the ages of the Gupta kings and has since remained over the ages. In fact, a Gupta period coin depicts the great king Samudragupta playing a Veena, which many believe to be the precursor of the Sarod.


The Sarod, as we know it today, is supposed to have been created by the legendar Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan Bangash of the Senia-Bangash gharana. It is supposed to be a combination of the Afghan Rabab (Indian Folk Rabab) and the Rudraveena (also known as the Dhrupadi Rabab). Contradictory thoughts claim that the Rabab had its origins in India rather than in Persia or Afghanistan. Its traces can also be found in southern India (in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka) where it is known as the Swarbat.


The folk Rabab had a wooden finger plate as opposed to a steel plate in the Sarod. The strings were made of silk, cotton or gut instead of metal and they were played with a wooden plektrum. In the case of the Sarod, the strings are made of stainless steel, copper, or bronze. The strings are played with a plektrum made from a coconut shell. This is called the Jaba. When the Afghan Rabab was combined with the Dhrupadi Rabab, the sound chamber was increased in size. Some early Sarods had a wooden finger plate instead of a metal finger plate. This changed during the time of Ustad Murad Ali Khan. Sympathetic strings were also introduced for harmonization.

Along ith these changes to the instrument, the playing style also began to evolve. The Beenkars (or the lineage of Veena players) started to add more melody into the playing style which was, until then, heavily concentrated on Rabab style, which was characterized by heavy strumming. Today the Shahajahanpore Seniya gharana has a unique blend of the 'Gayaki' style (derived from vocal music) and the Rababiya style (developed from the Rabab). The Sarod is one of the rare instruments where the listener would discover that the instrument imitates vocal music at times, and recreates the rhythmic variations as on a percussion instrument, at other times.

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