Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Region: South Asia.
Description: Surbahar [in Hindi; सुरबहार in IPA: s̪urbəhɑːr]. The translation comes to a literal meaning “Springtime of notes”. The Surbahar a plucked string instrument used in the Hindustani classical music of North India.
History: The sitar emerged some time in 1820 during the 19th century. According to some scholars, beenkar Umrao Khan of Lucknow [or some say by his teacher, beenkar Pryar Khan], who belonged to Tansen’s tradition by his daughters lineage. He had a large sitar and named it “surbahar”, to teach the alap, jodalap of druphad anga to his favourite students. Ghulam Mohammad was one of them.
Tuning: Depending on the instrument’s size, it is usually pitched two to five whole steps below the standard sitar, but as Indian classical music has no concept of absolute pitch, this may vary.
Construction: The surbahar is essentially the same as the sitar, although a “bass” version of this instrument. However there are some features that set this instrument apart from the sitar. The differences are noticeable. The scale length of the surbahar, between the nut [meru] and the jawara [bridge] determine the length to be 145 cm or more. The width of the neck is at least 11 cm in diameter of the sound table is over 40 cm.
The gourd section of the back the back of the shell flat backed and round. The tied curved frets are often flattened on the bottom for structural support. The pegbox is installed as a separate component, bent back and has a scroll, open at the back with a bilateral [two left, three right] arrangement of the tuning pegs,
Citations: Bibliography: S. M. Tagore: Yantrakoś – on a sitar [Calcutta, 1875 in Bengali] ; C. R. Day: The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan [Delhi, 1891, R 1977] ; Suneera Kasliwal, Classical Musical Instruments, Delhi 2001 ; Websites: India-instruments.com [surbahar article] ;