Type: Chordophones > Lute.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Region: South Asia.
Description: The sarod or sarode [in Hindi: सरोद or সরোদ] is a stringed instrument used mainly in Hindustani [North Indian] classical music. Along with the sitar, it is among the most popular and prominent instruments.
Etymology: The name sarod or sarode roughly translates to “beautiful sound” or “melody” in Persian. One of the many languages spoken in in Afghanistan.
History: The traditional hierarchical master-disciple [ustad-sagird among Muslim musicians] relationship through which performance knowledge is closely guarded and transmitted in the Hindustani continued through the 9th and early 20th century, to the two prominent stylistic lineages [gharanas] of sarod playing that still exist today. One founded by Ghulam Bandagi and the other by Allauddin Khan. These two gharanas differ not only in style but also in their details of instrument design.
Origins: From an organological perspective the sarode is a descendant of the Afghani rebab its closest 19th century relative the sursingar a similar instrument although much larger in size. There are speculations among the sarodiyas [sarode players] notably the maestro Ali Akbar Khan [b. 14 April 1922 d. 18 June 2009].
That a similar instrument might have existed almost two thousand years ago in ancient India. They refer to instruments which resemble the Sarode found in carvings of the 1st century in the Champa temple, as well as in paintings in the Ajanta Caves.
Acoustics: The sarod is known for a deep, weighty, introspective sound, in contrast with the sweet, overtone-rich texture of the sitar. With additional sympathetic strings that give it a resonant, reverberant quality. It is a fretless instrument able to produce the continuous slides between notes known as meend [glissandi Hindi: मीण्ड़ ْ, Urdu: میند] which are important in Indian music.
Construction: The body of the sarod is carved from a single block of teakwood and includes two separate cavities for resonance. the resonator proper, is hemispheric and covered with a taut glued-on goatskin, the other, the neck, is rectilinear with tapering sides and covered with a thin, slightly convex sheet of nickel-plated metal. A distinctive waist marks the meeting point between the resonator and the neck. The body continues beyond the top end of the neck with a tapering peg-block. A nut is made of bone, it is located where the neck and the peg-box meet.
The large and wide bone bridge [ghora] that rests upright on the resonator soundtable. Four melody strings, one bronze and three steel and two rhythm strings [chikari] made from steel pass over the bridge; four steel drone strings [javari] pass through a short row of holes drilled in the face of the bridge; and eleven steel sympathetic strings [taraf] pass through a longer row of holes drilled in the face of the bridge below the row of javari strings. One end of each string is wound around a wooden friction tuning peg.
The other is looped around one of five studs on a common metal string holder that is firmly secured to the resonator bowl. The tuning pegs for the four melody strings are located on the far side of the peg-block. Those for the four javari strings are on the near side of the peg-block, the two chikari string pegs penetrate the side of the neck. The eleven taraf string pegs are arranged in two parallel rows on the side of the neck close to where it meets the resonator.
Unlike the other strings, the taraf ones pass through raised holes in the fingerboard and are wound around their tuning pegs inside the resonating chamber of the neck. A spherical metal second resonator is screwed to the bottom side of the peg-block. A triangular wooden or coconut-shell plectrum (not pictured), called a java, is used to pluck the strings.
The conventional sarode as it stands today has 18 to 19 sympathetic strings, this lute has four to five main playing string. Both the sympathetic and playing strings travel through the bridge from the tail end to nut then head stock. There are five slightly tapered wooden friction tuning pegs, carved separately on a lathe.
The head stock has four or five matching individual sound holes dedicated for each tuning peg. 18th to 19th holes are drilled and reamed slightly beneath membrane in parallel alignment. Pins are installed for each hole so the sympathetic strings can travel from the second tail bone. Across the binding site, through the bridge and to the head stock alongside and parallel to the playing strings.
Citations: Bibliography: Miner, Allyn 1993 – Sitar and Sarod in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, International Institute for Traditional Music, Berlin, Tamori, Masakazu ; Dick, Alastair. 1984. “Sarod.” NGDMI v.3: 298-299 ; Miner, Allyn. 2000. “Musical Instruments: Northern Area.” In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music v. 5. South Asia. ed. Alison Arnold. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., pp. 331-349 ; Slawek, Stephen. 2000. “The Classical Master-Disciple Tradition.” In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music v. 5. South Asia. ed. Alison Arnold. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., pp. 457-467 ; Wade, Bonnie. 1979. Music in India: The Classical Traditions. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall ; The Transformation of Sarod Gharānā: Transmitting Musical Property in Hindustani Music [PDF]. Senrii Ethnological Studies 71: Music and Society in South Asia. ISBN 978-4-901906-58-6 ; Grinnell College Musical Instrument Collection / Sarode article ;