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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The sārangī is a bowed, short-necked string instrument from the Indian subcontinent, which is used in Hindustani classical music. It is said to most resemble the sound of the human voice – able to imitate vocal ornaments such as gamaks (shakes) and meends (sliding movements).


Surjeet Singh tuning his Sarangi
Surjeet Singh tuning his Sarangi

Sarangi derives its name from the bow of lord Vishnu and probably as it is played with a bow it is named as sarangi. According to some musicians, the word sarangi is a combination of two words ‘seh’(Persian equivalent of three) and ‘rangi’ (Persian equivalent of coloured) corrupted as sarangi.[citation needed] The term seh-rangi represents the three melody strings. However the most common folk etymology is that sarangi is derived from 'sol rang' (a hundred colours) indicating its adaptability to many styles of vocal music, its flexible tunability, and its ability to produce a large palette of tonal colour and emotional nuance.

The repertoire of sarangi players is traditionally very closely related to vocal music. Nevertheless, a concert with a solo sarangi as the main item will sometimes include a full-scale raag presentation with an extensive alap (the unmeasured improvisatory development of the raga) in increasing intensity (alap to jor to jhala) and several compositions in increasing tempo called bandish. As such, it could be seen as being on a par with other instrumental styles such as sitar, sarod, and bansuri.

It is rare to find a sarangi player who does not know the words of many classical compositions. The words are usually mentally present during the performance, and a performance almost always adheres to the conventions of vocal performances including the organisational structure, the types of elaboration, the tempo, the relationship between sound and silence, and the presentation of khyal and thumri compositions. The vocal quality of sarangi is in a separate category from, for instance, the so-called gayaki-ang of sitar which attempts to imitate the nuances of khyal while overall conforming to the structures and usually keeping to the gat compositions of instrumental music. (A gat is a composition set to a cyclic rhythm.)

The Nepali Sarangi is also a traditional stringed musical instrument of Nepal, commonly played by the Gaine or Gandarbha ethnic group but the form and repertoire of sarangi is more towards the folk music as compared to the heavy and classical form of the repertoire in India. In Nepal, Sarangi is viewed as an iconic musical instrument to identify the Gandarbha people.


A sarangi laid flat
A sarangi laid flat

Carved from a single block of tun (red cedar) wood, the sarangi has a box-like shape with three hollow chambers: pet (stomach), chaati (chest) and magaj (brain). It is usually around 2 feet (0.61 m) long and around 6 inches (150 mm) wide though it can vary as there are smaller as well as larger variant sarangis as well. The lower resonance chamber or pet is covered with parchment made out of goat skin on which a strip of thick leather is placed around the waist (and nailed on the back of the chamber) which supports the elephant-shaped bridge that is made of camel or buffalo bone usually (made of ivory or Barasingha bone originally but now that is rare due to the ban in India). The bridge in turn supports the huge pressure of approximately 35–37 sympathetic steel or brass strings and three main gut strings that pass through it. The three main playing strings – the comparatively thicker gut strings – are bowed with a heavy horsehair bow and stopped not with the fingertips but with the nails, cuticles, and surrounding flesh. Talcum powder is applied to the fingers as a lubricant. The neck has ivory or bone platforms on which the fingers slide. The remaining strings are resonance strings or tarabs, numbering up to around 35–37, divided into 4 choirs having two sets of pegs, one on the right and one on the top. On the inside is a chromatically tuned row of 15 tarabs and on the right a diatonic row of 9 tarabs each encompassing a full octave, plus 1–3 extra surrounding notes above or below the octave. Both these sets of tarabs pass from the main bridge to the right side set of pegs through small holes in the chaati supported by hollow ivory/bone beads. Between these inner tarabs and on either side of the main playing strings lie two more sets of longer tarabs, with 5–6 strings on the right set and 6–7 strings on the left set. They pass from the main bridge over to two small, flat, wide, table-like bridges through the additional bridge towards the second peg set on top of the instrument. These are tuned to the important tones (swaras) of the raga. A properly tuned sarangi will hum and cry and will sound like melodious meowing, with tones played on any of the main strings eliciting echo-like resonances. A few sarangis use strings manufactured from the intestines of goats.

Notable performers

Sarangi players in India

  • Dhruba Ghosh (1957-2017)
  • Abdul Latif Khan (1934-2002)
  • Bundu Khan (1880-1955)
  • Sabir Khan (Sarangi) (b. 1978)
  • Sabri Khan (1927-2015)
  • Suhail Yusuf Khan (b. 1988)
  • Sultan Khan (1940-2011)
  • Ustad Faiyaz Khan (born 1968)
  • Ramesh Mishra (1948-2017)
  • Harsh Narayan (b. 1985)
  • Ram Narayan (b. 1927)
  • Manonmani (b. 0000)
  • Mamman Khan (d. 1940)
  • Ustad Gulab Khan
  • Ustad Mehboob Khan
  • Ustad Abdul Majid Khan (1888/89 - 1977)
  • Ustad Masit Khan
  • Ramchandra Mishra (d. 2019)
  • Bapu Lal Shishodiya (1934-)
  • Hafizullah Khan (1946-2002)
  • Munir Khan (1926-2011)
  • Nazir Hussain Khan (1937-2000)
  • Ustad Abdul Samad Khan (1936-2000)
  • Nicolas Magriel
  • Mohammed Jaffer Khan
  • Roshan Ali Khan (b. 1944)
  • Ustad Hamid Khan (b. 1944)
  • Ashique Ali Khan (1948-1999)
  • Aguru Sarkar
  • Dr. Kashyap Dave
  • Kamal Sabri
  • Aruna Narayan (born 1959)
  • Siddiqui Ahmed Khan (1914-)
  • Ghulam Sabir Khan (born 1948)
  • Ustad Dilshad Khan (born 1983)
  • Hanuman Prasad Mishra (1913-1999)
  • Vidya Sahai Mishra (d. 2019)
  • Prabhu Sahai Mishra (d. 2006)
  • Shakoor Khan (1905-1975)
  • Inder Lal Dhandra (1930-2011)
  • Gopal Misra (Sarangi) (1921-1977)
  • Patti Khan (b. 1935)
  • Bhagwan Das Mishra (d. 2011)
  • Pandit Santosh Mishra (Sarangi) (1956-2019) [1]
  • Baccha Lal Mishra (1933-2004)
  • Bharat Bhushan Goswami (b. 1955)
  • Ustad Liaqat Ali Khan (Sarangi)

Sarangi players in Pakistan

  • Bundu Khan (1880-1955)
  • Allah Rakha (1932-2000)
  • Hussain Bakhsh Amritsari (1894-1984)
  • Nazim Ali Khan (d. 1996)
  • Tajammul Hussain Khan
  • Ustad Peeru Khan (1918-1995)
  • Ustad Abdul Hameed Khan (1928 - 1994)
  • Ustad Lal Khan
  • Bade Ghulam Sabir Khan (d. 1962)
  • Hamid Hussain (1923-1980) [2]
  • Ustad Zahid Hussain (1930-)
  • Wahid Hussain (1927-2004) [3]
  • Ustad Ghulam Mohammed Khan (1910-1974) [4]
  • Nathoo Khan (1920-1971) [5]
  • Nabi Bakhsh Khan (1910-1989) [6]
  • Israr Nabi Bakhsh Khan (d. 2019) [7]
  • Irfan Nabi Bakhsh Khan
  • Tasaduk Hussain Khan
  • Bulund Iqbal Khan (1930-2013) [8]
  • Umrao Bundu Khan (c- 1915-1970) [9]
  • Faqir Hussain Khan (1930-1995)
  • Mubarik Ali (d. 2002) [10]
  • Sharif Hussain Khan
  • Akhtar Hussain, Sarangi (b. 1959)
  • Shafqat Ali (1967-2014) [11]
  • Khawar Hussain (d.2014) [12]
  • Mazhar Umrao Bundu Khan (b. 1965)
  • Athar Umrao Bundu Khan
  • Ali Zafar, Sarangi
  • Taimur Khan, Sarangi (b. 1975)
  • Zohaib Hassan Khan (Sarangi) (b. 1988)
  • Gul Mohammad Khan, Sarangi (b. 1992)

Other sarangi players

  • Yuji Nakagawa, Sarangi - A Japanese citizen who learnt playing this instrument in India under the tutelage of Dhruba Ghosh

Modern performers who have used sarangi in compositions

See also


Further reading

  • Bor, Joep, 1987: "The Voice of the Sarangi", comprising National Centre for the Performing Arts Quarterly Journal 15 (3–4), December 1986 and March 1987 (special combined issue), Bombay: NCPA
  • Magriel, Nicolas, 1991 Sarangi Style in North Indian Music (unpublished Ph.D. thesis), London: University of London
  • Qureshi, Regula Burckhardt, 1997: “The Indian Sarangi: Sound of Affect, Site of Contest”, Yearbook for Traditional Music, pp. 1–38
  • Sorrell, Neil (with Ram Narayan), 1980: Indian Music in Performance, Bolton: Manchester University Press

External links

This page was last edited on 21 October 2020, at 16:38
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