Sarangi

Purchased in Katmandu, Nepal, Dec. 1967

From Graciela's Notes

The sarangi is an Indian classical instrument. The classical music of India, as well as Pakistan, is marked by the shimmering sounds of its instruments. To Western eyes, these exquisite instruments look as exotic as they sound. Urged along by the constant rhythm of the tabla, a pair of drums, the music twists and turns in winding phrases that seem to echo the ornate decorations of the instruments - the sarangi being one of them. While they look different, however, Indian string instruments are basically the same as lutes, zithers, and fiddles. The shimmer in the sound comes from a set of "sympathetic" strings that vibrate independently of the main strings. They are not plucked or bowed but vibrate spontaneously, and sympathetically, when the other strings of the instrument are played. The sarangi is a short-necked fiddle and is the most important bowed instrument in northern Indian classical music. The sarangi is held upright in the player’s lap, with the top half held against the left shoulder. The large indentations - known as a waisted body and made of a single block of wood - on each side of the body accommodate the movements of the bow from string to string. The sympathetic strings pass through the holes in the wide fingerboard. The sarangi produces a rich sound, which is used in both folk and classical Indian music. This Indian bowed instrument is known as a chordophone with three or four playing strings. This one has four strings above the sympathetic strings. The bow is thick and short. I bought the instrument from an old man in Katmandu, Nepal who was playing it in front of one of the many beautiful temples. With the help of the guide I asked him where I could find one like it. To my surprise he told the guide that if I wanted to buy it he would sell it to me. He said that it had belonged to his family so it was rather old. For some reason he was willing to part with it. Maybe he needed the money. At any rate, we agreed on a price, he put it in a cloth sack where he carried it, and I carried it, through the rest of our tour of Nepal and India and on to Spain. It was quite an acquisition. I bought it in December 1967.

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