Introducing the Sarangi

The main instrument for the last track on Spirit Symbiosis is a very unique one, the sarangi. Have you ever seen a Bollywood movie with a sad love story? Then you have probably heard the sarangi in the backgrount. Its ethereal and soft sound is perfect for anything sad, nostalgic, contemplative and emotional.

The sarangi is a bowed instrument with 38 strings. The three main strings are made from goat guts and are quite thick. The rest of them are sympathetic strings made of steel and copper, and the very secret of the huge resonance of the sarangi. As you let the bow stroke the main strings, the sympathetic strings sing along in the tones which they are tuned in.

The sarangi is unique in many different ways and that also goes for the way it is played. You sit in a half lotus position with the instrument in your lap, the sarangi leaning against your body. The three main strings are played with a bow held in your right arm and the tones are changed by pressing the cuticles or the nail against the string. This is for sure painful until you build up some resistance. Both the sound and the way the sarangi is played gives it a characteristic that is closer to vocals than other instruments. It is played with sliding tones and with vocal like ornaments.

Photo by Mauri Auvinen

Traditionally the sarangi was used to accompany vocals in indian classical music, but in the last 100 years or so it has got a more prominent place as a solo instrument.

Sadly both the number of players and makers are declining as the world is changing. Classical music is put to the side as modern and more westernized music gets more and more popular. The old ragas and melodies, with their unique semi-tones, are lost as the tempered scales takes over. The age-old traditions of learning instruments with a guru dissapears as the world is to busy to study music 10 hours a day.

Indian classical music is much more than music, it is a spiritual path. Every raga and melody has its energies, modes and effects. In the old times musicians were seen as holy, like the rishis and the gurus. Revered for their magical capabilities, creating change by the magic of music.