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Traditional String Instruments Resources

Indian Classical Raag Musical Instruments

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The sacred scripture of Guru Granth Sahib is compiled of hymns composed in 31 classical raags by 42 authors including minstrels of the Guru's court. Kirtan performed with traditional Indian string instruments dates back to the very origins of Sikhism.

  • First Guru Nanak sang hymns accompanied by his spiritual companion, the minstrel Mardana, who played upon the Rabab, an instrument given to him by the guru's sister Bibi Nanaki.
  • Sixth Guru Har Govind combined features to produce the Taus, an instrument fashioned to resemble a Peacock.
  • Tenth Guru Gobind Singh is thought to have created the Sitar, and known to have modified the elaborate Taus into the simple Dilruba for convenience, and ease, of transportation by his military.
  • The late Bhai Avtar Singh, a Golden Temple ragi, performed kirtan while playing the Taus. His nephew, Bhai Baldeep Singh has devoted his life to carry on the kirtan tradition of string instruments.

Dilruba

Dilruba String Instrument
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The Dilruba is fashioned in a variety of sizes from woods such as Cedar, Rosewood, Teak, or Tun, and may have inlay patterns, or decorative carvings, has a goatskin sound board, and is played with a 20 inch wooden bow having synthetic fibers. The Dilruba is up to 41 inches in length. Brass, or other metal is used for 20 movable frets, and 4 steel strings, strung over a bone bridge. Case may, or may not, be included.
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Esraj

Esraj String Instrument
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The Esraj is fashioned of Teak, or Tun, woods and may have or decorative carvings and inlay. The Esraj instrument is up to 51 inches in length and features a long neck, brass, or other metal, frets, a bone bridge, a goat skin sound board, 4 main strings played with a bow strung with horse hair, and depending on the instrument, 12 to 19 resonating sympathetic strings. Case may, or may not, be included.
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Rabab

Rabab (Rababah) String Instrument
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The Rabab (Rababah) is an ancient string instrument. The light weight Rabab dates back to the origins of Sikhism and was played by the minstrel Mardana to accompany First Guru Nanak when he sang shabads in praise of One God. The most simple Rabab has a single string which resonates against a a fixed flap of goat hide. The traditional 2 string Rabab may be fashioned from a hide covered coconut shell, and is played with a bow strung with horse hair. Case may, or may not, be included.
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Rebab

Rebab String Instrument
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The Rebab, a variation of the Rabab, is one of the most ancient stringed instruments and has undergone many transformations as it evolved over the centuries. The multiple string Rebab is available in variety of styles, and may be made of both wood and animal hide (goat skin). The deluxe style of Rebab may be carved of mulberry wood, has 4, or 5, main strings with 12 to 16 resonating sympathetic strings, and is played with a bow. Case may, or may not, be included.
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Rebek

Rebek String Instrument
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The Rebek, a variation of the simple Rabab, has 3 strings made from animal gut, and is played with a bow. The Rebek may be carved from, or trimmed with, Rosewood. Case may, or may not, be included.
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Sarangi

Sarangi String Instrument
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The Sarangi is a popular Indian string instrument played with a bow which is available in a variety of sizes and styles. The Sarangi generally has a rectangular box shaped body, and neck, fashioned of Tun, or other wood and hide. The Sarangi is played with a bow strung with horse hair, and has 3 to 4 main strings, with up to 35 resonating sympathetic strings. Case may, or may not, be included.
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Sarod

Sarod String Instrument
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The Sarod is available with, or without, a Toomba gourd shaped resting piece, and is constructed from Tun wood, brass, or other metal. The Sarod may be carved from Tun, or Rosewood, with decorative inlay, has a steel face plate, and is fitted with goat skin hide over the sound board. The Sarod is played with a pick and is available in multiple sizes with 15 up to 23 strings, with 2 drone, 6 to 8 main, and 7 to 13 resonating sympathetic strings. Case may, or may not, be included.
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Sitar

Sitar with Toomba
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The classic Sitar is available in a range of sizes and styles with 5 to 7 main strings and 11 to 14 resonating sympathetic strings, totaling up to 20 strings. Sitar instrument styles include single, and double Toomba (gourd shape resonating resting piece), and the innovative Electric Sitar. Generally the single Toomba has 6 main strings, and has fewer embellishments than the double Toomba, which has 7 main strings, and more extravagant decorative inlay and carvings. A case may, or may not, be included.
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Tanpura

Tanpura String Instrument
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The Tanpura is a traditional wooden gourd shaped, drone instrument with a long slender hollow neck and is primarily used to accompany vocalists, or other instruments. The neck has no frets, and generally has 4 steel strings, but may have 5, or even 6 strings. The Tanpura may be fashioned from a Tumba Gourd, or carved from Teak, Tun, or Guort, woods with decorative carvings, and inlay. The Tanpura is available in several sizes including male up to 60 inches, female, and flat, up to 40 inches, miniature male, and female, up to 24 inches, box style, and electronic. A case may, or may not, be included.
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Taus Peacock Instrument

Taus Peacock String Instrument
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The Taus is an instrument fashioned in the form of a peacock having the qualities of both Sitar and Sarangi, and is believed to have been the creation of Sixth Guru Har Govind. The Taus body is gourd shaped with a wooden peacock head, a animal hide back (sounding board) and rests on carved wooden peacock feet. The Taus is fashioned of Tun wood with decorative paint, carvings, and inlay. The instruments neck designed to resemble a peacock's tail, may be embellished with feathers, and has 19, or 20, movable frets, 4 main strings, and from 16 to 26 resonating sympathetic strings, all played with a wooden bow strung with horse tail hair. Case and strings maybe included.
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