Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Region: South Asia.
Description: Surbahar [in Hindi; सुरबहार in IPA: s̪urbəhɑːr]. The translation for the name surbahar comes to a literal meaning of “Springtime of notes”. The Surbahar a plucked string instrument used in the Hindustani classical music of North India. The surbahar has a dual role it maybe played solo, in accompaniment with another instrument [jugalbandi or collaboration] or in an ensemble.
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 in B or Ni in sargam. The sympathetic strings are tuned to the thaat [parent scale] of the raaga being played.
Construction: The surbahar is essentially the same as the sitar. This is true from the body, neck, tuners and occasionally an added tumba or not. There are some features that set this instrument apart from the sitar in which the differences are noticeable. This includes 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, R1977 ; Suneera Kasliwal, Classical Musical Instruments, Delhi 2001 ; Websites: India-instruments.com [surbahar article] ;