Name: Sarinda.
Type: Chordophones > Composite > Lyres > Double-Chested.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Country: India, Many.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Nepali sarinda  [in Nepali: नेपाली सरिंडा] is a Nepali bowed double-chested lyre, that is a member of the chordophone family, it is played by bowing. Similar instruments to the sarinda are played in Afghanistan under the same name, Rajasthan, Punjab, Sindh Pakistan under the name Sorud. 

Origins: Traditional the sarinda was only played by people of the Gandharba or Gaine cast [both are contested and interchangeable terms]. These musicians sing narrative tales, folk songs. Currently the Sarinda it is played outside of the Gandharba community and it is widely played by other caste members as well.

It has also garnered much interest in other music genres, such as Nepali rock and film music. While the Sarangi has become the quintessential Gandharba instrument, while its counterpart, the arbajo, a plucked lute that has fallen into obscurity.

Sarinda, India 1900s Photographed by Graeme Gibson @ British Museum, London UK.

Playing Techniques: Gaine musicians often perform while standing. They hold the instrument vertically, bow the strings just above the bridge with the right hand, and stop the strings against the fingerboard with the fingers of the left hand.

The fingerboard being as short as it is allows the performer to play only in first position. The middle two strings are tuned in unison to the tonic scale degree (sur).

Repertoire: The sarinda is played exclusively by Nepali men of of the low-status Gaine caste. They are wandering minstrels who perform narrative repertoire that includes news, myths, gossip and commentary, they some what function like “Singing News Papers”.

Their repertoires are large and the songs they perform today fall into two general categories: songs and styles influenced by Indian and Western popular music heard through the mass media and songs sung in the old folk ragas [modal scale structures].

Tunings: The top string is tuned a fifth above the tonic and the bottom string a fourth below. Since the sarangi player accompanies his own singing, he chooses a frequency for the tonic that compliments his vocal range.

All other pitches are produced relative to this pitch; since the fingerboard is not fretted, intervallic relationships between notes of a scale are determined by where the performer stops the strings against the fingerboard.

Construction: The sarinda is carved of one single piece, a membrane of animal skin is tacked onto the front sound cavity of the instrument located at the bottom. An angled bridge is placed under the four strings. Keeping the playing strings taught. Two steel strings often of packaging wire and two nylon strings are used as drones. The Nepali sarinda lacks any other additional sympathetic strings as seen on other instruments of this type.

Citations: Baily, John, and Alastair Dick. 1984. “Sarinda, “ NGDMI v.3: 297-298 ; Ballinger, Thomas O and Purna Harsha Bajracharya. 1960. “Nepalese Musical Instruments,” Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 16/4: 398-416 ; Bech, Terence. 1975. “Nepal, the Gaine Caste of Beggar-Musicians,” The World of Music 17/1: 28-35 ; Helffer, Mireille. 1984. “Sarangi; 3. The Nepalese sarangi,” NGDMI v.3: 296 ; Hoerburger, Felix. 1970. “Folk Music in the Caste System of Nepal,” Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council 2: 142-147 ; Moisalo, Pirkko. 2000. “Nepal,” GEWM v.5: 696-708 ; Bibliography: Websites: Roger Vetter, Gaelyn Hutchinson ~ Grinnell College Musical Instrument Collection / Gaine Saranghi ; The Roderic C. Knight Musical Instrument / Oberlin College Conservatory Of Music ;

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