"The sarangi remains not only the authentic and original Indian bowed stringed instrument but the one which expresses the very soul of Indian feeling and thought". Sir Yehudi Menuhin
About the Sarangi Indian Cultural heritage encompasses such aspects as vocal, instrumental and dance as its three wings graded in that order. In the instrumental department, Sarangi the age old stringed instrument assumed the top position by the sheer virtue of its being able to emulate the human voice to perfection.
The Sarangi is the main bowed instrument of North Indian Music. It is carved from a single piece of hardwood, has a face of stretched goat skin and has no less than thirty six sympathetic strings, (which provide the haunting echo in its sound) and three main strings. The three main strings are made from gut which are played by the bow. The Sarangi is revered in India both for its uncanny ability to imitate the timbre and inflections of the human voice and for the intensity and emotional expressions to which it lends itself. It is widely considered the most difficult of all Indian instruments. The most difficult problem being the tuning of so many strings as well as the playing technique which involves stopping the gut strings with the cuticles on the left hand, which can be very painful. Hence its difficulty, there are now only a few Sarangi players in India today as the learning technique takes much patience and devotion as well as skill. As it is the majo accompanying instrument and there are very few Sarangi players, it is much in demand, so much so that it is due to the lack of Sarangi players that the harmonium evolved and came into popularization as it is much easier to play and does not need continues tuning. But even so does not even begin to come close to the depth and beauty of the old aged string instrument known as Sarangi. The music of India is basically vocal music. Over the centuries the instruments of India have been nothing if not in fact, human voices by proxy. And for the sheer verisimilitude the most expressive voice in all of India is that of the colourful Sarangi. That's why it is called 'Sarangi, the voice of a hundred colours'.
We acknowledge with thanks for excerpts on Sarangi by Nicolas Magriel @ www.sarangi.net Some recommended Sarangi listening: Ustad Sabri Khan Raag Darbari (47 minutes)- Alap, Jor and Raag Multani-Khyal Slow Ektal, Drut Teentaal Auvidis Ethnic B6754 This really is my Guruji at his best. Recorded in France in 1990, the recording has managed to capture a side to Sarangi that is so rare. Played in complete meditation, a truly evocative insight into the Darbars of the Moghuls.... Ustad Sultan Khan Sur Taal Raag Nat Bhairav, Dhun in Maand, Raag Hemant, Raag Basant and Raag Des. T Series Classical Instrumental SICCD 022 Sultan Khansahib has such a sweet sound, and an amazing gamak!!! This recording is a great initiation into Sarangi. The Des alap is especially good.... Pandit Ram Narayan Raag Marwa, Raag Des and Mishra Bhairvi Music Today (Delhi) or anything on Nimbus its all good! The undisputed master of instrumental Sarangi. Panditji has developed his own unique style, concentrating on Sapat (scale runs) rather than gamak (fast glissando between two notes).