Category Archives: Lutes



Name: Saranghi.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Waisted > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: India, Pakistan, Nepal & Bangladesh.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The saranghi [in Punjabi: ਸਾਰੰਗੀ Gurmukhi; Nepali: सारङ्गी; Hindi: सारंगी; Urdu: سارنگی] is a bowed, short-necked string instrument from the Indian subcontinent, which is used in Punjabi dhadi music and Hindustani classical music. It is said to most resemble the sound of the human voice – able to imitate vocal ornaments such as gamaks [shakes] and meends. Meends are apart of a series of playing techniques that denote sliding movements in equivalent to a glissando.

Saranghi, Rebab and Guinbri @ Horniman Museum, London, UK

Etymology: Some musicians hold to the view, the sarangi is a combination of two words, “seh” being the Persian equivalent to the number three and “rangi” in Persian meaning “coloured”. The two words became one word in time denoting the name of the instrument. The etymology is that the sarangi is derived from “sol rang” [a hundred colours” indicating its versatility to play numerous different styles of vocal music and its ability to produce a large palette of tonal colour and emotional nuance.

Playing Techniques: The saranghi is played with a bow that is tied with heavy horse hair. Unlike a cello the the saranghi player where the finger presses directly onto the fingerboard. The saranghi player utilizes his fingernail. His fingernail is vertically parallel to the playing inline with the cuticle. Talcum powder is applied to the fingers as a lubricant. The neck has ivory or bone platforms on which the fingers slide.

Construction: The saranghi is hand carved from a single block of tun [Red Cedar or Toona ciliata] wood, the saranghi has a box-like shape with three hollow chambers: pet the [stomach], chaati [chest] and magaj [brain]. It is usually around 0.61 m or 2 feet long and around 150 mm or 6 inches wide. There are smaller and larger sizes and dimensions of body

The lower resonance chamber or pet is covered with a membrane that is from a parchment of goat-skin. The membrane is held into place a by a cut piece of thick leather nailed, that is nailed onto the back of the chamber.

This assembly supports the distribution load of the elephant-shaped bridge that is made of camel or buffalo bone, it is no longer made with ivory Barasingha bone, as it is banned in India. The bridge in turn supports the huge pressure of approximately 35-37 sympathetic steel or brass strings. The three playing strings are made of animal gut.

The Sympathetic Strings: divided into 4 choirs having two sets of pegs, one on the right and one on the top. On the inside is a chromatically tuned row of 15 tarabs and on the right a diatonic row of 9 tarabs each encompassing a full octave. Plus 1–3 extra surrounding notes above or below the octave. Both these sets of tarabs pass from the main bridge to the right side set of pegs through small holes in the chaati supported by hollow ivory or bone beads.

Between these inner tarabs and on either side of the main playing strings lie two more sets of longer tarabs, with 5–6 strings on the right set and 6–7 strings on the left set. They pass from the main bridge over to two small, flat, wide, table-like bridges through the additional bridge towards the second peg set on top of the instrument.

Divided into 4 choirs having two sets of pegs, one on the right and one on the top. On the inside is a chromatically tuned row of 15 tarabs and on the right a diatonic row of 9 tarabs each encompassing a full octave.

Citations: Bibliography: Bor, Joep, 1987: “The Voice of the Sarangi”, comprising National Centre for the Performing Arts Quarterly Journal 15 [3–4], December 1986 and March 1987 [special combined issue], Bombay: NCPA Magriel, Nicolas, 1991 Sarangi Style in North Indian Music [unpublished Ph.D. thesis], London: University of London Qureshi, Regula Burckhardt, 1997: “The Indian Sarangi: Sound of Affect, Site of Contest”, Yearbook for Traditional Music, pp. 1–38 orrell, Neil with Ram Narayan, 1980: Indian Music in Performance, Bolton: Manchester University Press