Name: Saranghi [Nepalese].
Type: Bowed Lute > Chordophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Tuning: G C g c.
Acquisition Source: Ian MacKenzie, Trip to Nepal.
Region: South Asia.
Description: The sarangi (Nepali: सारङ्गी) is a folk Nepalese bowed string instrument. Traditionally in Nepal, the Sarangi was only played by people of Gandarva or Gaine caste, who sing narrative tales and folk song. However, in present days, it is widely used and played by many. It is also used widely in Nepali music. The sarangi has largely usurped the role of the previous Gaine instrument, the plucked lute arbajo.
Construction: a) Traditional Nepali Sarangi is made up of a single piece of wood. Having a neck and hollowed-out double-chambered body, they are often made from a very light wood called khirro. Currently the use of other woods like Saaj, Lakuri, Mango wood has increased. b) The lower opening is generally covered up with dried skin of Sheep or Goat upon which the bridge rests, while the upper chamber is left open.
Some modern Sarangi players use the Komodo Dragon skin because it keeps the tune of the Sarangi more stable and makes the sound deeper. c) The skin of Goat and Sheep is much more popular because of its easy availability. The neck is fretless, and the strings are tied upon and tuned with the tuning pegs, which are called Kunti or Murra.
d) The original strings were made up of sheep intestine, similar to the use of catgut (made from the intestines of cattle) in violins. The village people allotted intestines of sheep, sacrificed during major festivals like Dasain, to the Gandarvas. The Gandarvas left the intestine in a pot for some days. Once the meat was fully rotten, it was pulled out, leaving behind the fine nerves of the intestine which were then woven to get the strings, which produced fine quality sound. However these days, readily available nylon and steel strings have generally replaced gut strings.