Sadharani - A site dedicated to Indian Classical Music, Veena and Dhrupad. Sadharani - A site dedicated to Indian Classical Music, Veena and Dhrupad.
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Sursringar

It is widely believed that Sursringar was invented by a seniya rababiya Jaffar Khan (1775 – 1825). His main intention was to improve the resonance and the tonal quality of the seniya rabab.

The story behind the invention of Sursringar is – once Jaffar Khan and his cousin Nirmal Shah had to demonstrate their skill on seniya rabab and veena (been) respetively at the court of Benaras. One has to keep in mind that rabab’s sound box is covered in hide, and the strings were mostly catguts – and therefore extremely sensitive to humidity, dampness etc – weather in general. This performance also happened to be during the monsoon season.

The first performance was by Nirmal Shah on the Veena (Been). Feeling disadvantaged in front of the Been due to limitations of rabab – especially during the monsoon, since the sound gets damped due to rains – he took a month’s time from the Maharaja of Benaras, promising to play at the end of it. Its said that during this period, Jaffar Khan, stayed with a instrument maker, and evolved a new instrument based on rabab – which is sursringar.

Now that’s history. Whatever may be the history , or evolution, I can assure you that it is one of the most charming and beautiful instrument full of resonance, depth and beauty. It definitely is one of the best instruments for the Dhrupad style of music – though it is a difficult instrument to play.

It has been the dream of both Ustads, that Dhrupad on Sursringar be revived – and bring forth the rare instrument. Keeping with their dreams, its taken me 20 years, and many efforts to realize their dream – since there are very very few makers of the instrument. Its very unfortunate that its almost a lost art now.

Though I do not play sursringar professionally, I was determined to revive Sursringar in some form.

I take this opportunity to thank Jody Stecher (a student of our Ustad, multiple instrument player including sarod and sursringar ) – and who shared detailed diagrams / measurements of his Sursringar with me.

I’ll upload a few pictures under the “Photo Gallery”, and a recording of my instrument, as soon as I can make a decent recording of the same under “Audio / Video”. Keep a look out for it.

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