Non-Guitar Dosage: Sarangi

by guitarkadia on August 11, 2009

in Non-Guitar Dosage

I’m back with some N-GD! Promise to keep this going with some juicy stringed instrument brothers and sisters.

sarangiI’m no stranger to the sound of Sarangi, being from Bangladesh and all. Some of you Westerners may have heard the sound of this beautiful instrument  via these modern usages, via Satyajit Ray movies, or, in fact, many Indian movies, Bollywood included.

Let me digress for a moment and explain a little bit of the different ‘woods’ in India – the reason being that musically the influences of Indian music in Hollywood will no doubt appear thanks to A.R. Rahman’s winning the Oscar this year – Bollywood is just one portion of the vast Indian film industry. Rahman himself didn’t start out in Bollywood – which itself had been inspired by Bengali film industry Tollywood, dating back to 1932, but in Tamil films.

Ok, back to SarangiAccording to the lovely Wikipedia, Sarangi:

“…is a bowed, short-necked lute of the Indian subcontinent. It is an important bowed string instrument of India’s Hindustani classical music tradition. Of all Indian instruments, it is said to most resemble the sound of the human voice – able to imitate vocal ornaments such as gamakas (shakes) and meend (sliding movements).

The word sarangi is derived from two Hindi words: sau (meaning “hundred”) and rang (meaning “colour”). This is because the sound of the sarangi is said to be as expressive and evocative as a hundred colours.”

Let’s get to some music. The first video is a taste of what this instrument sounds like, played by Ram Narayan, a more recent clip of the master (he has been playing as a professional since the early 40s) . The second is an hour-long performance by Sultan Khan, who’d been a member of the Indian Fusion super-group – I say – called Tabla Beat Science.


I recommend you get  just a tad bit of info about the Raga played in this piece, the Nat-Bhairav. If nothing else, just listen to what the ‘scale’ sounds like.

Related: Tabla Beat Science on YouTube

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