: Lesson 2
tanpura is a string instrument. In structure, it resembles
the sitar. It is like a sitar without frets. But it
is bigger in size than the sitar and has four strings.
The first three strings are made of steel and the last
of brass or copper. The first string is tuned to pancham,
madhyam, dhaivat or nishad depending upon the raga being
rendered. The middle two strings called joda are tuned
to the sa (shadaja) of the middle octave. The last string
is tuned to the sa of the lower octave. Like a sitar,
the tanpura has a tumba at its base and a long neck,
but unlike a sitar, it has no smaller tumba on its left
end. The tanpura's flat neck is carved out of a hollow
wooden bar and its tumba from a hollow pumpkin or a
peculiarity about the tanpura is that the older the
wood used in its making, the better is its sound. Africa
is supposed to have the largest tumbas in the world
and tumbas are specially imported from Africa by Indian
tanpura makers. The top of a tanpura's tumba is called
the tabli on which a bridge is fixed. The bridge is
made of teakwood, ebony or sambar seeng. Four strings
run over this bridge.
modern tanpuras have even six strings like Kishori Amonkar's
and Prabha Atre's tanpuras. Traditionally four strings
are used. A very important element of the tanpura is
the threads, which are slipped beneath the strings on
the bridge. These threads serve to adjust the instrument's
tone, called jawari.
to the liking of the singer, you can have a sharp, base
or pointed tone. This is the way the world-renowned
Meeraj style of tanpuras are made. The male tanpuras
i.e. tanpuras used by male vocalists are bigger and
longer and posses a deeper tone, while the female tanpuras
are shorter and posses a sharper, high-pitched tone.
The tuning of the tanpura, which entails an exact pitching
of the tone calls for a lot of skill from an artist.
One can only tune a tanpura after at least five years
of taalim from his guru.
are several ways to play the tanpura. It is played sitting
on the floor and can be kept either horizontally or
vertically. To play the tanpura horizontally, the musician
keeps the instrument in front of him, places his elbow
on the tumba and always plays the first note with the
first finger and the rest of the three notes with the
pointer finger. If the singer wishes to hold the tanpura
vertically, (s)he puts it on the lap. Generally the
men place it on their laps. The placing depends on the
preferences and comfort of the player. In the Agra gharana,
the men keep the tanpura on their right thigh and play
it. Kirana gharana singers like Ustad Amir Khan saab
would place the tanpura sometimes horizontally and sometimes
a dhrupadia or a khayalia prefer to sing to the accompanying
sounds of a tanpura jodi, which means two identical
tanpuras with the same sound and tone. Only skilled
paramparik tanpura makers know how to make a jodi. A
jodi is priced much higher than two individual tanpuras.
of tanpura :
Generally, tanpuras are of three main styles - the Meeraj
style, the Tanjori style and Tanburi.
Meeraj Tanpura : Though good tanpuras are also
made in Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta, it is Meeraj which
is known the world over for its tanpuras. The Meeraj
tanpuras are simple; they have no decoration on them
and give out extremely resonant sounds. Hemraj was renowned
as a tanpura maker about 50 years back.
Tanpura : The Tanjore style of tanpuras are made
in South India. They are similar in construction to
Meeraj tanpuras, about three to five feet long. But
unlike the Meeraj tanpura, the Tanjore tanpura's neck
tapers towards the top. Its front plate is extremely
flat. Even its back bhopla is flattish and not rounded.
The resonators are almost always made of wood. Also,
a tanpura of the Tanjore style does not have carvings
on the front like a Meeraj one does.
Tanpura : The tanburi is used for instrumental music
and has become extremely popular with instrumentalists.
Unlike the tanpuras, which accompany vocal music, the
tanburi is small and thin; it's about two to three feet
in length. It has a very shallow resonator and a considerably
softer sound than the Meeraj tanpuras. It usually has
four strings; it may also have five or six. The tanburi
is not held vertically, but kept horizontally usually
while playing. It is very portable. Because it is made
of wood, it does not break easily.
Instruments : Electronic tanpuras In modern days,
conventional tanpuras are being replaced by electronic
tanpuras. The electonic tanpura is a small box-like
thing, which is usually manufactured in Bangalore, Mumbai
or Delhi. It's extremely portable, easy to use, and
allows for a lot of variation in pitch. It is also battery
operated; so people can take it for their travels. It
involves only one problem. In case of a power fluctuation,
the pitch may vary. This is a major complaint. Different
kinds of electronic tanpuras have evolved in the last
fifteen years or so. There is ongoing innovation to
reproduce as closely as possible, the sound of the original
: Lesson 1 Lesson 2
lessons on other instruments?