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 LESSONS in Indian Music

Sarod : Lesson 2

Sarod is a fretless, string instrument. It was initially said to have been played with a bow made from horsehair, but now it is plucked with a plectrum, made from coconut shell. It has a natural deep and resonant sound and is capable of producing highly emotional passages.

The sarod is about three and a half to four feet long. The body of a sarod is carved from a single and well-seasoned piece of teak. The base of sarod is covered with goat skin. The finger board has a covering of metal. The metal part of the body adds to the resonance within the tumba or the gourd.

The sarod has 25 metal strings, seven of which are played with the mizrab or plectrum. Four carry the melody and the rest serve to produce the drone of the instrument, called the tonic or 'sa' which accentuates rhythmic parts like the jhala. The other 17 strings are sympathetic strings (tadap strings) which provide resonance. Fifteen of these are attached to the long neck of the sarod and are attuned to the raga to which they are being played. The strings are tied from one end of the body of the sarod to the other over what is called the bridge. The bridge holds on its head only the main seven strings, and not the tadap strings.

The sarod is played with the nails of the artist, which serve as frets. It calls for a great sense of sur on the part of the player. The pitching has to be extremely accurate. Because of its fretless quality, the sarod allows the player to take long meends (slides) and subtle gamaks, which are typical of Indian classical vocal music.

Related Instruments : Rabab (a popular Afghani instrument) ; Surshringar (Zafar Khan invented this instrument).

Major exponents : Baba Alauddin Khan, the great sarod exponent, was a disciple of Ustad Wazir Ali Khan, a noted beenkar and a dhrupadia and a doyen of the senia gharana. Alauddin Khan (1862-1972) produced many legendary disciples like Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ravi Shankar, Annapurna Devi, Pt. Pannalal Ghosh, Sharan Rani. Baba lived to serve the cause of music. He also composed many ragas like Hemant and Durgeshwari. Hafiz Ali Khan Along with Alauddin Khan, Hafiz Ali Khan developed the sarod to its present day form. He too was a disciple of Ustad Wazir Ali Khan. Hafiz Ali Khan's son Amjad Ali Khan is today a renowned sarod player.

Modern day players: Ustad Ali Akbar Khan - was initiated into music at the age of three by his father Alauddin Khan, who was acknowledged as one of the greatest teachers and musicians of Hindustani classical music. At the age of 14, he gave his first public performance in Allahabad. While he was still in his twenties, he became the court musician of Maharaja of Jodhpur. A gifted genius, Ali Akbar is acknowledged as one of the greatest musicians in the world. He treats his ragas in an extremely spiritual, intellectual and serious manner. He founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in California in 1967. Hundreds and thousands of students have been learning sitar, sarod, tabla and vocal classical music under his guidance. He has cut many records and discs. Akbar Ali Khan's son Ashish Khan is also a sarod player.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan - belongs to the senia gharana, which can boast of a galaxy of masters. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was born in October 1945. He received training from his father Padmabibhushan Hafiz Ali Khan. He started playing the sarod at a very young age and was acclaimed a child prodigy. He has developed the gayaki ang on the sarod; his playing is exotic and lyrical in style. He has mastered the technique of sarod baaz and maintains his purity of playing. He has cut many records and discs.

Other sarod players: Pt. Buddhadev Das Gupta ; Zarin Daruwalla ; Brij Narayan ; Others profiled with us

Sarod : Lesson 1 Lesson 2


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