Category Archives: Veenas

Veenas

Guqin

Name: Guqin.
Type: Chordophones > Zithers > Long > Fretless.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.4
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The guqin [in Chinese: 古琴 pronunciation in IPA: kùtɕʰǐn] is a plucked seven-stringed Chinese musical instrument of the zither family. Traditionally been favoured by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement, as highlighted by the quote “a gentleman does not part with his qin or se without good reason”.

It is mentioned in Chinese writings dating back nearly 3,000 years and examples have been found in tombs from about 2,500 years ago. The exact origins of the qin is still a very much continuing subject of debate over the past few decades.

Factoid: In 1977 a recording of “Flowing Water” composed by Liu Shui and arranged by Guan Pinghu; one of the best qin players of the 20th century] was chosen to be included in the Voyager Golden Record, a gold-plated LP recording containing music from around the world, which was sent into outer space by NASA on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. It is the longest excerpt included on the disc.

Dating back as early as the Nan Dynasty [494 AD 220 AD] and possibly earlier. t is estimated that there are over three thousand qin pieces in existence, and many of these pieces are still played today on the qin.

Older qin are considered collectors items, with existing instruments dating back as far as the Tang Dynasty [618 – 907 AD]. Some of these qin can be heard on CDs recently released on Chinese, and Taiwanese record companies.

Tuning: Pentatonic [5 note] C Major Scale C / D / F / G / A / c / d.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ Asza.com [Gu Qin, Article]

Mohan

Name: Mohan Veena.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Tuning:
Manufacturers: Concord Instruments, India.
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Mohan Veena is a recent development modelled after the Hawaiian slide guitar. Having 12 sympathetic strings, the sympathetic strings were added in addition to the original instrument.

Construction: This instrument is modelled after the arch top guitar. 12 Sympathetic strings were added in the development of this musical-instrument. The Mohan Veena is under considerable tension in the access of 500 Lbs / In line with the Hawaiian slide guitar this instrument has a raised nut and bridge. Sympathetic strings are laid underneath the playing strings.

The drone strings are lower in height than the melody strings to allow for unrestricted playing of the melody strings. Professional quality Mohan Veena’s are built from a carved spruced top, mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck, and a flat, fretless, rosewood fingerboard.

Citations:

Hansa

Name: Hansa Veena.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Inventor: Pandit Ravi Shankar, 2000.
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Hansa Vina is a modern musical instrument as played in Indian Classical Music. The Hansa Vina is the result of a collaborative project between Pandit Ravi Shankar, Vishan Das, M/S Rikhi Ram and Sons of Dheli.

This instrument is the result from the adaptation of the slide guitar and inspiration from the sitar. This instrument has 13 sympathetic strings running in a parallel plane in line with the marked although non-fretted fingerboard, this approach of using sympathetic strings additional to an arch-top Hawaiian guitar.

This feature is shared by the Chatturangui and Mohan Veena. Both the bridge [jawara]  and nut are raised.  Each of the sympathetic strings is tuned to suite resonance of each note of the raga being performed.  

Citations: Barun Pal 

Ranjan

Name: Ranjan Veena.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Inventor: Pandit Niranjan Haldar
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Ranjan Veena is a plucked string musical instrument invented and patented by Pandit Niranjan Haldar. A retired senior artist from All India Radio [Indore, India]. This instrument resembles the Ghoduvadyam in design. Although in a much smaller size to scale. It has 19 frets. It is played with a slide.

Invention: Haldar had more than 40 years of experience in Indian and Western Classical music and has performed at various concerts and events such as Vichitra Veena for Akashvani, Doordarshan and Sangeet Natak Academy. He drew inspiration from Vichitra Veena.

After a decade of work he created a smaller musical instrument with a unique tonal quality that is a combination of the veena, sitar and guitar. The instrument is played with picks on fore-finger, middle-finger and thumb. On the Ranjan Veena, an experienced musician can play all the Indian Classical Instrumental techniques: Meed (Slide) Gamak, Krintan, Gitkari and the fast Taans.

Citations:

Triveni

Name: Triveni Veena.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Tuning:
Inventor: Pandit Niranjan Haldar along with Pandit Kamal Kamle.
Patent No#:
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Triveni Veena is a stringed instrument played not unlike a vichitra veena or slide guitar developed by Pandit Niranjan Haldar. After inventing Ranjan Veena he researched with various instruments to come up with a unique instrument. It was named Triveni Veena. 

Triveni meaning three rivers and also the materials to which the instrument is made of, wood, leather & metal. There are 4 melody strings 2 right strings 4 left Chikari strings to maintain Scale with Rhythm and 11 sympathetic strings.

Citations:

Jahllari

Name: Jhallari.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Veenas.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The jhallari or gethuvadyam is a string percussion instrument from South India. It is similar to the Saraswati Veena and ghotuvadyam in construction.

Playing Techniques: Jhallari strings are played with two small wooden or bamboo sticks, one on each hand, to create rhythmic patterns or a percussive development.

Construction: It consists of a large resonator [kudam] carved and hollowed out of a log usually of jackwood, a tapering neck of 1 to 2 feet in length, a string tuning box and four metal strings attached from the kudam to the tuning box.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: The Hindu [article: Rhythm Rendezvous Jhallari] ;

Chatturangui

Name: Chatturangui.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel & Sachs No#: 321.321.6
Inventor: Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya.
Patent No#:
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The chatturangui is a modified form slide guitar with a raised nut. This form of guitar has been introduced into India originally by Tau Moe Family. The Chatturangui has 22 to 24 strings in total. The main playing or melody strings are no different in tuning so for example Open D major or DADF#AD is used with this instrument. Unlike the Mohan Veena whose sympathetic strings run underneath the instrument. The Chatturangui’s sympathetic strings run parallel on the front or right side of the the body.

Both the Mohan Veena and Chatturangui are modelled after the Hawaiian slide guitar. It should be pointed out that both Debashish Bhattacharya and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt were students of Pandit Bridj Bushan Kabra who was one of the pioneers of playing of guitar for Hindustani or North Indian classical music .

The chatturangui originally began as a guitar having only two additional sympathetic strings when Debashish Bhattacharya began his studies of Indian Classical Music. This instrument developed into having 11 sympathetic strings, a total of four chikari strings two paired steel strings running parallel on either side of the melody strings. These are plucked with the thumb and middle finger.

Both the thumb and index finger wear the mezrab [pick] as used by sitar players. With the raag or as a counterpart or in contrast to the melody strings. A separate jawara [bridge] provides a flat surface for the sympathetic strings to sound in resonance when the melody strings are plucked.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

Saraswati

Name: Saraswati Veena.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Veenas.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch.

Description: The Saraswati veeṇa also spelled Saraswati vina [in Sanskrit: सरस्वती वीणा it is pronounced as “vīṇā” ; in Kannada: ವೀಣೆ ; in Tamil: சரஸ்வதி வீணை ; in Malayalam: വീണ ; in Telugu: సరస్వతి వీణ, in Bengali: সরস্বতী বীণা].

It is a plucked lute that is found primarily in the Carnatic [South Indian] classical music. It is named after the Hindu goddess Saraswati, who is usually depicted holding or playing the instrument. Also known as raghunatha veena. One who plays the veena is referred to as a vainika.

The saraswati veena is one of the major types of veena that is popular today. Other veena’s include the Vichitra and Rudra Veena. The Rudra Veena [a stick zither] is not related to this instrument and has a separate lineage in its development. Both traditional and contemporary compositions inside and out of Carnatic classical music are performed on this this instrument.

Origins: The current form of the Saraswati veena with 24 fixed frets evolved in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. During the reign of Raghunatha Nayak and it is for this reason sometimes called the Tanjore vina or the Raghunatha veena. Prior to his time, the number of frets on the veena were less and also movable. – Padmabhooshan Prof. P. Sambamurthy, musicologist.

Tuning: Four main playing strings E / B / E / B or in sargam notation Ga / Ni / Ga / Ni tuned to the tonic and the fifth in two octaves, Three additional drone strings running parallel on either side are tuned to the tonic, fifth, and upper tonic.

Construction: Consisting of a large resonator [kudam] carved and hollowed out of a log, usually of jackfruit wood. A tapering hollow neck [dandi] topped with 24 brass or bell-metal frets set in scalloped black wax on wooden tracks, and a tuning box culminating in a downward curve and an ornamental dragon’s head [yali].

If the veena is built from a single piece of wood it is called [Ekantha] veena. A small table-like wooden bridge [kudurai] about is topped by a convex brass plate glued in place with resin. Two rosettes, formerly of ivory, now of plastic or horn, are on the top board [palakai] of the resonator.

Citations:

Chitra

Name: Chitra Veena.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Veenas.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: India.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The Chitra veena, also known as hanumad veena or mahanataka veena is a 20 or 21-string fretless lute in Carnatic music. Around the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it started to be known by another name, Gotuvadyam [often mis-spelt as gottuvadyam, gottuvadhyam, kottuvadyam etc.].

Origins: Today it is played mainly in South India, though its origins can be traced back to Bharata’s Natya Shastra [200 BCE-200 CE], where it is mentioned as a seven string fretless instrument. Sarangadeva [1210–47] also made a similar reference to the chitravina in his work, Sangita Ratnakara.

History: The chitra veena was popularized in South India by the musician Sakha Rama Rao before his disciple Gotuvadyam Narayana Iyengar [1903 – 1959] who was a palace musician of the erstwhile states of Travancore & Mysore took it to great heights. Iyengar’s son, Chitra Veena Narasimhan [b. 1941]  was instrumental in spreading his father’s stringing and tuning methods as well as playing style.

Playing technique: The first two fingers on the right hand are usually used with plectra to pluck the metal melody strings while a cylindrical block made out of hardwood (often ebony), buffalo horn, glass, steel, or teflon held by the left hand is used to slide along the strings to vary the pitch.

Construction: The Chitra veena has six main playing strings that used for melody. They pass over the top of the instrument. The drone strings and 11 or 12 sympathetic strings running parallel to and below the strings. The string arrangement of the chikari strings [plucked sympathetic strings] run parallel to the neck similar to the sitar. Generally the Chitra Veena is generally tuned to G# [Pa#] 5 and 1 / 2. 

The drone [tala] strings are tuned in the order of a tonic / fifth / tonic the Sa / Pa / Sa is unique in terms of the top layer, main playing strings. The 3 and 2 include an octave string which gives the instrument a unique tone.

Citations: