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LESSONS in Indian Music

Sarod : Lesson 1

Listen to the Flute.

With a sound that evokes the mystery and depth of the oceans, the sarod is easily one of India's most exotic musical instruments. The name sarod can be linked back to the Arabic word 'sahrod', the Persian word 'sarood' (both of which mean music) as well as the Sanskrit word sharod meaning good sound.

There are several theories about the origin of the sarod. One popular school of thought traces back the genesis of sarod to the land of sands and silences - present day Afghanistan. This school believes the sarod evolved from the instrument rabab, which was honed and nurtured in Afghanistan; the sarod is a blend of rabab, veena and surshringar. They track back the creation of the sarod to the arrival in India of rabab player Ghulam Bandegi Khan Bangesh of the Bangesh gharana of Afghanistan. Ghulam Bangesh migrated to India about 300 years ago. He was commissioned as a soldier in the army of Raja Vishwanath Singh of Rewa.

It was Ghulam Bangesh's grandson Ghulam Ali, who along with his colleagues Niyamatullah and Inayat Ali modified the rabab and created the original sarod. Ghulam Ali was encouraged by the Raja of Gwalior, a big fan of dhrupad music, to sing dhrupad. Ghulam Ali's guru Zafar Khan, who would play the surshringar, suggested to him that the Afghani rabab could be adjusted to suit the style of vocal dhrupad music. An inspired Ghulam Ali worked on the suggestion and thus the sarod came into existence. According to another school of thought, Amir Khusroo, a court musician of Alauddin Khilji from 1296-1315, developed the sarod.

A third school of musicians hold that the sarod was known in ancient India; it is depicted in the 2000-year-old Champa temple in MP. Illustrious sarod player Ustad Ali Akbar Khan subscribes to this third school of belief.

In any case, all agree that the present form of sarod is a modification of the earlier forms by Ustad Baba Alauddin Khan and his brother Ayat Ali Khan in the 20th century.

Sarod : Lesson 1 Lesson 2