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Sarod, an Ancient Banjo

Posted by Paul Roberts on Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Sarod is a majestic-sounding Indian classical instrument. The modern Sarod has 25 strings which are plucked with a coconut shell plectrum. It's body is made of a single block of seasoned toon, teak, or mehgini wood. The fingerboard is a smooth fretless steel plate. The Sarods belly is covered with a goat skin. There are two deer horn bridges; one rests on the belly and the second is on the neck before the main pegs. The strings are steel and bronze. Four main strings carry the melody; four resonating (jwari) strings are tuned to the principle notes of a particular raga (scale); two chikari strings - tuned to the tonic - are used for drone emphasis and rhythm; and the remaining fifteen strings (known as taraf) are tuned to the notes of the raga to provide sympathetic resonance. Above the fingerboard is a brass bowl (toomba), which is used for resonance, balance and to rest the instrument on the floor when not being played.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan is widely regarded as the greatest master of the sarod. He has performed worldwide, greatly contributed to the appreciation and awareness of Indian classical music. Listen to his gorgeous sound:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hobK_8bIDvk

2 comments on “Sarod, an Ancient Banjo”

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Wednesday, December 3, 2008 @9:25:29 PM

Hey, that was neat to see and hear that video.  The sarod could have some really fine possibilities for frailers, and picking it up wouldn't be too bad for those used to playing fretless banjos.  I bet it would sound good with nylon strings.  Great, another instrument for me to covet!

Paul Roberts Says:
Wednesday, December 3, 2008 @10:43:12 PM

It's a challenge; 25 strings, with tension pegs, and a huge clubby neck. You note the melody by pushing the string down to the fingerboard with the fingernails of your left hand. But the sound is out of this world.

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