TAMBURA,BIN,VEENA (indian musical instruments)

The tambura (also called tanpura in the north) is one of the classical instruments of the stringed group. It is used all over India for drone accompaniment and its varieties are numberless.

By: Diksha Sharma

Posted on: 13/11/2020 View : 86

TAMBURA 

The tambura (also called tanpura in the north) is one of the classical instruments of the stringed group. It is used all over India for drone accompaniment and its varieties are numberless. With its powerful and resonant drone, it forms a perfect base for the human voice. In appearance the tambura is like the southern veena, without the latter’s second gourd and elaborate head-piece. The bowl is usually a large one, from ten inches to one and a half feet wide. The best tamburas are made of jackwood or a hollowed-out gourd. The overall length of the instrument varies from three and a half-feet to five feet. The belly is usually slightly convex. The bridge, placed on the bowl in the centre, is made of wood or ivory. There are four metal strings, three made of steel and the fourth and lowest one of brass. The strings pass through holes in a ledge near the peg. The tuning pegs of the first and second strings are fixed at the side of the neck; those of the third and the fourth strings are at right angles to the head.


Little pieces of silk or wool placed in certain positions between the strings and the main bridge serve to improve the tonal effect and enable one to hear the overtones of each string clearly. The strings are attached directly to the narrow ledge fixed to the body. There are beads threaded upon the strings, between the bridge and the attachment to which they are secured. These beads, pushed down in the direction of the attachment, act like a wedge between the belly and the strings; by thus stretching the strings, they serve to alter the pitch as required. This contrivance renders accurate tuning easier. When played the tambura is usually held upright, the body resting upon the ground in front of the performer. Some¬ times the bowl is placed on the right thigh. The strings are gently and continuous¬ ly plucked with the fingers, one after the other, in the same order. In the south, tamburas usually have wooden bodies whereas in the north gourds are generally used. The finest tamburas are made in Miraj, Lucknow and Rampur in the north. In the south, Tanjavoor, Trivandrum, Vizianagaram and Mysore are famous centres of manufacture. Tanjavoor tamburas are beautifully carved and ornamented with ivory. 

BIN 

The northern veena, usually called the bin, consists of a bamboo fretboard about 22 inches long and two and a half inches wide upon which are fixed on 24 metallic frets, one for each semitone of two octaves. The frets are fixed on the stem by a resinous waxlike substance. This fretboard is mounted on two large gourds, each about 14 inches in diametre. The instrument has four main strings for playing; it also has three side strings. Of these two are on the left side, while one is on the right. The bin is held in a slanting position on the left shoulder, the upper gourd resting upon the shoulder and the lower gourd on the right knee. The strings are plucked with the fingers of the right hand, the left hand passing round the stem and stopping the strings over the frets. Originally the bin was used only as an accompaniment to vocal music. Today it is not only a well established instrument for solo playing but the innovator of a distinctive and well recog¬ nized musical style of its own. The bin player masters alap, which is an elabora¬ tion of the raga in slow tempo, jod or raga alap in medium tempo and jhala or playing in fast tempo. In these, no tala is used although the rhythm is maintained throughout by means of the chikari or side strings which also serve as the drone.


Usually serious classical music of the Dhrupad style is played on this instrument and the main percussion accompaniment is the pakhawaj. In certain musical moods, the player repeats the percussion phraseology of the pakhawaj on the bin in terms of rhythmic musical phrases. This practice is called tar par an. It is said that during the period between Amir Khusrau and Akbar, the bin had only twelve frets on which a range of three octaves could be played. Subsequent¬ ly the number of frets was increased. Haridas Swami is credited with having improved styles of playing the bin and standardised the different styles of music played on it. The bin was very popular during the Mughal period. Thereafter the art of playing it was preserved and nourished by beenkars who were descendants of the famous Tansen. The princes of north India have since then patronised many great masters of this instrument. Wazir Khan of Rampur state, who flourished in the early part of this century, was among the more recent of them. Some other famous players were Mohamedali Khan, Sadat Ali Khan, Kale Khan, Mushruff Khan, Imdad Khan, Lateef Khan and Waheed Khan. The bin is a difficult instrument to play well, and the masters of the northern bin are not very numerous. 

VEENA 

The southern veena consists of a large body hollowed out of a block of wood, generally jackwood. The stem of the instrument is also made of the same kind of wood and the bridge is placed on the fiat top of the body. The neck is attached to the stem and is usually carved into some weird figure like the head of a dragon. Another gourd, smaller in size than the rounded part of the body, is fixed underneath the neck and forms a kind of rest or support for the instrument. Twenty- four metallic frets, one for each semitone of two octaves, are fixed on the stem by means of a resinous substance. The frets are arcs made of bell metal or of steel. The veena has seven strings in all. Four of them are main strings that pass over the feets and are attached to the pegs on the neck. The three side strings are used for the drone and the rhythmic accompaniment. These strings pass over an arched bridge made of brass. They lie flat over the top of the body and are secured to the main bridge.To play the veena, the performer sits cross-legged upon the floor and holds the veena in front. The small gourd on the left touches the left thigh, the left arm passing round the stem so that the fingers rest easily upon the frets. The main body of the instrument is placed on the ground, partially supported by the right thigh. Sometimes the performer sits cross-legged upon the ground as before but holds the veena vertically by placing the body of the instrument in front of him or on his lap. This method of playing is more popular in Andhra Pradesh. 


Generally, the various parts of the veena, such as the neck, the stem and the main body are made ready separately and joined together later. But there is a type of instrument called the ekavada veena where the whole length, comprising the neck, stem and bowl, is carved out of a single piece of wood. This type of veena is greatly prized. Its tonal quality and volume are richer than in the case of the ordinary veena. The southern veena as we know it today was brought into use by a ruler of Tanjavoor called Raghunatha Naik and his Prime Minister Govinda Dikshitar who first constructed a veena with twenty- four fixed frets. Before this the veena had less than twenty movable frets which had to be adjusted as in the northern sitar. The fixing of the frets (twelve for each octave) paved the way for the development of the famous scheme of seventy-two melakartas of the Karnatak system. The style of presenting Karnatak music has grown largely round the veena technique and many of the noted south Indian musicians, musicologists and composers of the past have been veena players. The tanam, a creative type of music in the Karnatak system, is the elabora¬ tion of a raga in free rhythm in slow, medium and fast tempo. The tanam as played on the veena has evolved as a unique style peculiar to the veena. 


More related articles:



History of Spiritual Healing

The traditional Medicine Man, or Woman, as the case often was, watched the goings on in their environment. They observed the animal life, birds, climate, and other actions or changes to determine whether the future would be successful or difficult. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA(Allahabad)

ALLAHABAD, earlier known as the Prayag, at the confluence of the great rivers Ganga and Jamuna and the mythological Saraswati, has since times immemorial enjoyed the reputation of a holy place to which masses from all over the country flock at the time of Kumbha, an event that takes place after every twelve years. They come to pay homage to their deities and to meet the Sanyasins and others and derive solace from whatever their miseries and sorrows be. Know More

Yoga Philosophy: Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga (Ashta – 8, Anga – Limb) is the path to enlightenment that offers guidelines for a peaceful, meaningful and purposeful life.The first four stages of Patanjali's Ashtanga yoga concentrate on refining our personalities, gaining mastery over the body, and developing an energetic awareness of ourselves. They are preparation for the next 4 limbs. The second half of the journey deals with the senses, the mind, and attaining a higher state of consciousness.The Yamas and Niyamas can be approached individually or they can be seen as a progressive system towards Realization. Know More

What Is Spiritual Healing?

Spiritual healing is the ability of your mind and soul to repair your ailments. These ailments are not limited mere physical wounds, but can also relate to mental illness and self esteem issues. Many modern day physicians invoke the idea of spiritual healing along with western medicine as a means to promote the health of their patients. Know More

Introduction to Yoga (What is Yoga?)

The word yoga literally means “to yoke” or “union”. More than just a practice of physical exercises, Yoga is the coming together of the individual self or consciousness, with the infinite universal consciousness or spirit. Yoga is a method of inquiry in to the nature of the mind, which emphasizes practice and direct experience. The “Goal” of Yoga: The “goal” of yoga is to align to the universal consciousness in order to experience joy, freedom and the stillness of full consciousness. Alignment, is related to mind and body, and refers to how various parts of us are integrated and interconnected. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA(Bidar)

LEGEND has it that Bidar is the short form of Viduranagar, an ancient city named after Vidura, the legendary figure of Mahabharata. Archeological finds have revealed that Bidar, situated 740 km north of Bangalore, is located at a site where in the 10th century there existed a fort. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA (Ahmadnagar)

THE Satavahanas had a prosperous kingdom on the south-western coast of the country in ancient times. Commerce and trade flourished with even foreign countries. One of the towns in their kingdom was Ashmak on which site there now stands Ahmadnagar, about 117 km from Pune in Maharashtra. Know More

KATHAK

In any discussion ofKathak as a major dance-form, several questions arise, since the style evolved gradually duringthe course ofseveral centuries, imbibing diverse influences. There are some primary questions concerning this art form; what is its chronological place in relation to other styles; does it share the Hindu myth and legend of the other dance forms; did it originate in the Moghul Coruts. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA(Golconda)

THE massive and extensive fortress of Golkunda lies just to the west of Hyderabad. Originally known as Mangal- waram or Mankal, the fort was built about eight hundred years ago by the kings of Warangal. In 1364 Kanhaiya Naik Raja was compelled by circumstances to surrender it to Sultan Muhammad Shah Bahmani and for the next 150 years golconda formed part of the Bahmani kingdom, with its capital at Gulbarga. Know More

Gayatri and Sandhyavandana

If the Gayatri has not been chanted for three generations in the family of a Brahmin, its members lose caste (they cease to be Brahmins). The quarter where such Brahmins live cannot be called an "agrahara". It is perhaps not yet three generations since Brahmins gave up the Gayatri. So they still may be called Brahmins. Know More

MANIPURI

Manipuri may be described as a dance form which is at once the oldest and the youngest among the classical dances. Seemingly free and unbound governed only in a limited manner by the poetic line and the melody, a long waning metrical system, it is in fact rigorously structured and its easy fLowr and spontaneity is its outer form w-hich makes for a smooth commtuiication but is not to be mistaken for simplicity. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA (Vijayanagar)

THE Raja of Anagundi gave shelter to a fugitive who happened to be a nophew of Mohammad bin Tughluq. The Sultan came in hot pursuit of his nephew and in a fight slew both the nephew and the Raja and appointed a governor. The latter, however, could not cope with the situation and had to be removed. Know More

ORISSI

Orissi may well claim to be the earliest classical Indian dance style on the basis of archaeological evidence, the most outstanding being the Rani Gupta caves of the second century B. C. in Orissa. Scholars have dated these caves and their carvings to be earlier than the writing ofthe Natyascistra. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA (Warangal)

WARANGAL 175 km from Hyderabad, was part of the Andhra kingdom till the middle of the 12th century when it was conquered by the Kakatiyas who made it their capital. Prod Raja, a powerful Kakatiya king, constructed a fort in the capital, as is known from inscriptions on the eastern and western gates and pillars of the fort. Know More

The Brahmin must keep his Body Pure

The Brahmin must keep his body chaste so that its impurities do not detract from the power of the mantras he chants. Deho devalaya prokto jivah prokto sanatanah. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA(Daulatabad)

DAULATABAD is one of the most natural and best preserved forts of India. It owes its beginnings, according to Stuart Paggot,its geological formation and derives its strength from the peculiar nature of mountain ranges and spires. It is at a distance of about 15 km from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Know More

KATHAKALI

normally are longer than the smaller units, sometimes these culminate as has been mentioned above or in multiples ofthree. There are even bigger Kcilasams known astheBaliya Kalasams. Know More

Upanayana: When to Perform It?

A Brahmin childs upanayana must be performed when he is eight years old from conception that is when he is seven years and two months old from birth. A Ksatriyas is to be performed at the age of twelve. Krsna Paramatman who belonged to the clan of Yadus was invested with the sacred thread at that age Know More

Forts of Deccan

SOME of the forts on the western coast of India owe their origin to the imperial policies of the Delhi Sultanates though the fort of Devagirl had been there even before the Delhi rulers could make their presence felt. But like any other defensive measure, the Devagiri fort could prove its worth not only by its fortifications but aiso by the will of the defenders Know More

BHARATANATYAM

the lower torso. The lower limbs are seen either as straight lines or two sides of an imaginary triangle in space. The upper limbs either follow the lower limbs or weave circular patterns along space which is covered by the lower limbs. Know More

Qualities of a Brahmacarin

The celibate-student must perform samidadhana every day, beg for his food and take no salt. If he is a Brahmin he must keep a staff or palasa, if he is a ksatriya a staff of asvattha. The Vaisya brahmacarin has a staff of udumbara. The staff helps the student to retain his learning. It is similar to the lightening conductor or the aerial and is scientifically valid as to fix these hymns Know More

THEORY AND TECHNIQUE

As has been mentioned in the previous chapter, there is a rich body of critical writing on the dance both at the level of theory and at the level of technique. Writers on dance and drama were known to Panini as is obvious from the numerous words he used for the actor, the performer, the dancer, the acrobat as also his reference to the Nata sutras. Know More

Upanayana

The upanayana of a boy is performed when he is old enough to understand things and chant the mantras.When he starts learning at the age of five he will have a basic knowledge of Sanskrit by the time he is eight years old, the age fixed for the upanayana samskara. The world will stand to gain if eight-year-old children wear the sacred thread, have sufficient knowledge of Sanskrit and chant the Gayatri mantra. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA(Ahmedabad)

A NOBLE city in a high state of prosperity which for the pleasantries of its climate and the display of the choice of production of the whole globe is almost unrivalled.Abul Fazel. Know More

Why not All Samskaras for All?

Jatakarma, namakarana, annaprasana and caula are common to all jatis. Only Brahmins, Ksatriyas and Vaisyas have the upanayana ceremony. There is nothing discriminatory about this nor need there be any quarrel over the same. People belonging to the fourth varna do physical work to serve the world and in the process acquire inner purity. Know More

HISTORY OF DANCE

The history of Indian classical dance is no longer a matter of conjecture; it is a fact and reality which pervades all parts of India and extends from the earliest levels of civilisation to the present day Know More

Names of Samskaras

The forty samskaras which are meant to purify the individual self are:garbhadhana, pumsavana, simanta, jatakarma, namakarana,annaprasana, caula, upanayana, the four rites like prajapatya (Vedavratas) performed during gurukulavasa (the years the celibate student spends in the home of his guru), the ritual bath on completion of gurukulavasa, marriage, the five mahayajnas performed everyday by the householder. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA( Champaner)

HE fortress of Champanir set on a formidable deeply scrapped rock 25 miles from Baroda derives its name from its founder. Jamb or Champa the brilliant and gallant minister of King Wun Raj of Chowra dynasty that ruled in the eighth century. The fortress is also known as Pawan garh or Pavagarh The Castle of Winds pawan meaning wind which continuously blew and blasted it. Know More

Importance of Agni

Agni, the sacred fire, must be kept burning throughout a Brahmins life.The Brahmacarin or bachelor - student must perform the samidadhana everyday. After he is married, with Agni as witness, he becomes a grhastha (householder). He must now perform the aupasana in the fire. For the vanaprastha (forest recluse), there is a sacred fire called kaksagni. Know More

TAMBURA,BIN,VEENA (indian musical instruments)

The tambura (also called tanpura in the north) is one of the classical instruments of the stringed group. It is used all over India for drone accompaniment and its varieties are numberless. Know More

The Eight Qualities

The eight gunas or qualities are: daya, ksanti, anasuya, sauca, anayasa,mangala, akarpanya, asprha."Daya" implies love for all creatures, such love being the very fulfilment of life. There is indeed no greater happiness than that derived by loving others. Daya is the backbone of all qualities. Know More

MIGRATIONS (Instruments in Indian Sculpture)

The migration of Indian musical instruments to the countries surrounding India at an early period forms an interesting subject of study. In pre-Buddhist times, India seems to have had commercial and other relations with Egypt, Sumer and other Middle-Eastern regions. Archaeologists have discovered musical instru¬ ments similar to the yazh of the ancient Tamil country in Egypt and Babylon. Know More

Forts of Gujarat

DURING the Rajput period adequate attention was given to fortification’ Forts were called by different names depending on their location etc, e.g. Sivir, Vahinimukha, Sthariya, Samviddha, Kolaka, Nigama and Sikandhatva. Forts were of various types, e.g. Vanadurga, Salilidurga, Parighadurga, Pankjadurga, Dhanrvadurga, Sahayadurga, Sainyadurga. Some basic rules about construction of forts were laid. In shape they could be circular, square, rectangular; they were to be surrounded by moats, enclosing walls and ramparts, furnished with gates, circumambulating flights of steps and secret staircases in the interior. Know More

THE VEDIC PERIOD

Music and dance have been the chief forms of religious expression in India. The origin of music in India is attributed to gods and goddesses and to mytho¬ logical figures like gandharvas and kinnaras who figure in all the stories and legends connected with the science and practice of music. Know More

CHRONOLOGY

Sanskrit treatises on music and literature containing references to musical instruments begin from about the 3rd century B-c* In Barhut, Sanchi, Bhaja, etc., the artists of ancient India have sculptured various types of musical instruments in the scenes depicting the life of the Buddha. Know More

Three Types of Worlds

We speak of three worlds: devaloka (world of the celestials),manusyaloka (this world of ours), and naraka (hell). The first has nothing but pleasure; in the second it is a mixture of happiness and sorrow; and in the third there is nothing but pain and sorrow. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA(Amber)

THE Amber Fort near Jaipur is situated on the summit of a hill that commanded the regions lying to the north and south and the narrow passage which joins these two. Its powerful and extensive walls and towers enabled its rulers to prepare themselves for defence from inside. Know More

Instruments in Indian Sculpture

The polished, ivory-ornamented elegance of modern Indian musical instru¬ ments such as the veena, the sitar and the sarod affords little idea as to how primitive were the instruments from which they are descended. Know More

Paradise or the Path of Atmajnana?

Our worldly existence is a mixture of joys and sorrows. Some experience more joy than sorrow and some more sorrow. Then there may be a rare individual here or there who can control his mind and keep smiling even in the midst of sorrow. On the other hand, we do see a quite a number of people who have much to be happy about but who keep a long face. Know More

Sruti-Smriti - Srauta-Smarta

Those who follow the tradition of Acarya are called "Smartas". The word "Smarta" literally means one who adheres to the Smrtis. To say that the Acarya descended to earth to uphold the Vedas and that those who follow his path are Smartas implies that the Vedas and Smrtis are one.The rites that are not explicitly mentioned in the Vedas but are dealt with in the Smrtis are called Smarta karmas and those that are explicitly mentioned are called Srauta karmas. This does not mean that the Smarta rites are in anyway inferior to Srauta Know More

FORTS OF RAJASTHAN(Jodhpur)

ON an auspicious hour of 13 May 1459 Rao Jodha Singh laid the foundation of a fort and also commenced construction of the city which came to-be known after him as Jodhpur Fort and Jodhpur city, respectively. And, following the tradition, a person named Rajiya Bhati was butied alive in the foundation in the superstitious belief that such a course enhances longevity of the fort. Know More

The Source of Smritis is the Vedas

The best testimony to the claim that the Smrtis are founded on the Vedas is provided by the words of mahakavi (great poet). Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva, the founders of our religio-philosophical systems, proclaim that our dharmasastras are in accord with the Vedas. But they had, each of them, a doctrine to establish. Know More

Smritis - not Independent Works

There is a wrong impression about the dharmasastras even among those who treat them with respect. They think that the rules and duties of the Smrtis were formulated by their authors on their own. They call theseauthors lawgivers who, in their opinion, laid down laws that reflect their own views. Know More

FORTS OF RAJASTHAN(Ranthambhore)

THE famous fort of Ranthambhore near Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, stands on an isolated rock 1578 feet above sea level and is surrounded by a massive wall strengthened by towers and bastions. The fortress witnessed many sieges and battles but today ail that is there are the remains of a palace, a mosque, tomb of a saint and barracks for the garrison. Know More

Freedom and Discipline

There is much talk today of freedom and democracy. In practice what do we see Freedom has come to mean the licence to do what one likes, to indulge ones every whim. The strong and the rough are free to harass the weak and the virtuous. Thus we recognise the need to keep people bound to certain laws and rules. However the restrictions must not be too many. Know More

FORTS OF INDIA (Rajasthan)

TO the rulers of states in Rajasthan, which literally means the Land of Kings and who claimed to be offsprings of the sun, moon or some such phenomenon, freedom was the most precious possession for which they considered no price, no sacrifice big enough. They could not compromise when any demand from their opponents clashed with their sense of self respect. Know More

Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram

As one enters the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram (pi. XI), one finds a large gopura, the upper por¬ tion ofwhich is completely lost but the form ofwhich may be imagined from the complete second (inner) gopura. The larger prakara-wall all around the temple, decorated with couchant bulls at intervals, is in continuation ofthe second gopura Know More

BRIHADl§VARA TEMPLE, GANGAIKONDACHOLAPURAM

The great monument at Gangaikondacholapuram, the second Brihadisvara Gangaikondacholesvara temple (pi. VI), rears its head nobly and bespeaks the imperial dignity of the capital that Rajendra (1012-44), the son ofRajaraja, established after his victorious march to east India up to the river Ganga. Know More

Sthala Puranas

Even those who respect the Puranas are not prepared to accept that the Sthala Puranas, that is the short Puranas pertaining to particular places,are authentic. If educated people think the [major] Puranas to be nothing but lies, they go so far as to treat the Sthala Puranas as nothing better than rubbish. Know More

BRIHADISVARA TEMPLE, THANJAVUR

Thanjavur attained prominence under the Cholas in the ninth century, Vijayalaya, the first great ruler of the dynasty (850-71), having captured it and made it his capital. The Brihadisvara temple is a symbol of the greatness of the Chola empire under its author, emperor Rajaraja (985-1012), whose splendour it reflects. Know More

Join Omdhara spiritual community

Grow your internal being as it has to be, get connection with the one.