The Sarangi is the premier bowed instrument of North Indian music, it began to become popluar in the mid-17th century to accompany vocal music. It still retains this vital role today but is largely surplanted by the harmonium.
The Sarangi consists of squat, truncated body. Like the Sarode it has a sound board of goat skin. It has three main playing strings of heavy gut. These are the ones which are bowed. It also has an addition 30-40 metal smypathic strings, which give the instrument it characteristic sound.
Unlike the violin, in which the strings are pressed down on a fingerboard,the playing strings of the sarangi are stopped with fingernails of the left hand.
Raga Malsri by Ustad Hussain Baksh Amritsari on Sarangi
(Ustad Hussain Baksh Amritsari was born at Amritsar in a family of sarangi players.
He got his early training from his father Ustad Fateh Din and his uncle Ustad Sain Ditta.He started public performing at an early age.He became shagirid of Ustad Piran Ditta of Jhlandar. He was inspired by Ustad Shakoor Khan. After partition, the family migrated to Lahore.He was an integral part of all sarangi performances at Lahore.All the well known vocalists were his personal friends and he accompanied all of them. He had well known shagrids like Ustad Pheero Khan, Ustad Abdul Hameed, Nisar Hussain, Murad Ali, Hazara Singh and others. His tradidition is now being carried forward by his grandson–Zohaib Hassan Khan. He died in Lahore in 1885. Zohaib Hassan Khan is a young promising Sarangi Player and working very hard to make good name for himself and his family.Zohaib Hassan is at Lahore.)
Coming from a large family of folk fiddles, the sarangi entered the world of Hindustani art music during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as the preferred melodic accompaniment for songstress-courtesans. It appears to have been the most popular North Indian instrument during the nineteenth century at at a time when sitar and sarod were relatively rare as well as relatively primitive not having yet benefited from technical improvements made during the twentieth century. So plentiful were sarangi players that paintings and photos of singing and dancing girls usually depict a sarangi player on each side of the singer.
Samrat Ustad Sabri Khan Saheb - Raag Darbari, Alap. (An extract taken from a documentry of Ustadji)
The sarangi's three melody strings are stopped not with the pads of the fingers but with the cuticles or the upper nails or the skin above the nails of the left hand. The Cretan lyra and Bulgarian gadulka are also played with the sides of the finger nails, but to my knowledge there is no other instrument on which the strings are stopped with so high a portion of the back of the finger. Practice often leads to prodigious callousing as well as to telltale grooves in the fingernails. The difficulty of sarangi technique is legendary.
Ustad Shakoor Khan, Sarangi, Raag Darbari Kanada, Part 1
(Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan had only one surviving son, Shakoor Khan, who followed in his father's footsteps to also become a great musician on the sarangi and voice.
Two famous sons of Ustad Shakoor Khan are Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan & his younger brother Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan [Sangeet Research Academy Calcutta, India vocalists of Kirana Gharana. Arshad Ali Khan [born 1984] is their newphew and scholar of Sangeet Research Academy Calcutta.)
Ustad Sabri Khan.zip
The innocuous harmonium has largely replaced the sarangi as the preferred accompaniment to vocal music. Although its tempered tones are categorically out of tune for Indian music, they are, sadly, more in tune than the notes of a less than expert or out-of-practice sarangi player. Generally vocalists shy away from the possible competition of sarangi players. And indeed, sarangi players do sometimes overplay or steal the limelight, often, sometimes justifiably, considering themselves to be of more substantial musical pedigree than the singers they accompany. Their low social status is often at the root of unjustifiably low musical status, more so nowadays as a large percentage of performing vocalists, especially in Maharashtra, come from the educated middle classes and no longer from families of hereditary musicians.
Raag Madhuvanti. Sarangi Virasat (legacy). Concert by the Sabri Family.
Sarangi Samrat Ustad Sabri Khan Saheb together with his son Janab Kamal Sabri and grandson Suhail Yusuf Kahn are performing live in France.
(Photo courtesy by Don Douglas: Sarangi maestro Ustad Sabri Khan, touring with Ravi Shankar's Festival of India in 1968)
Raag Marwa by Ustad Sultan Khan, Sarangi
Sarangi music is vocal music. It is quite impossible to find a sarangi player who does not know the words of many classical songs. The words are usually mentally present during performance, and performance almost always adheres to the conventions of vocal performance 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 quite 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. Most sarangi players learn to sing before they begin to play.
Khartaal, Sarangi and Dhoalk by Rhythm of Rajasthan
Performed by Pt. Ramesh Misra: Raag Multani ("Afternoon Raga") on a sarangi made in Uttar Pradesh, about 1850 - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
(Photo Courtesy by Veronique Lerebours - Concert in NYC Nov. 2010)
Contrary to common belief, the sarangi is and has historically been a solo, as well as an accompaniment, instrument - that is to say that sarangi players have always played solo in their homes and in musicians' gatherings. The fact that solo sarangi has had limited success on the modern concert stage does not demonstrate that sarangi players have not been ready to play, or that solo sarangi music does not exist. There are many surviving recordings of solo sarangi from the first decades of this century including those of Badal Khan, Master Sohan, and the patron saint of sarangi, the genius Bundu Khan. Recordings from the fifties and sixties immortalize the brilliance of players such as Gopal Mishra and Shakoor Khan as well as the virtuoso Ram Narayan who went on to engineer a successful career for himself as a soloist. All sarangi players who are employed as staff artists of All India Radio give solo broadcasts from time to time. It is fascinating to observe the ways in which vocal music has been adapted to solo sarangi and the details of how the voice of the sarangi differs from that of a singer and generates its own stylistic specialities. These subjects are central to my ongoing doctoral research.
Bill Laswell - Axiom Sound System April 5th 2005 - Tabla Beat Science - 1/2
Bill Laswell - bass, DJ Disk - turntables, Zakir Hussain - tabla
Karsh Kale - drums, Ustad Sultan Khan - sarangi, Salim Merchant, Nils Petter Molvaer - trumpet
Abdul Latif Khan
|Allauddin Khan (Esraj)|
|Inayat Shah (Dilruba)|
|Munir Sarhadi (Sarinda)|
Other Sources: http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/India/2403Sarangi/Sarangi2403.html
Photos: *Classic Badayo, UP sarangi - About 1940
**Various sarangis: the side people rarely see
***Images from The Beede Gallery - Short-Necked Lute (Sarangi), Northern India, Early 20th Century