While the Saarangi Sings its Songs

Saarangi is a folk Nepalese string instrument, also very popular as a folk musical instrument in Northeast India. Unlike the classical Indian sarangi which has many sympathetic strings which are not bowed, the Nepali has only four strings, all of which are played. Traditionally in Nepal, sarangi was only played by people of Gandarva or Gaine caste, who sing narrative tales and folk song. However, in present days, it is widely used and played by many.

Of all Nepalese musical instruments, it is said to get closest to the sound of the human voice. Carved from a single block of wood, the Sarangi has a box – like shape, usually round two feet long and around half a foot wide. It has no fingerboard and usually three or four gut strings, which are bowed with a horse – tail fiddle and “stopped” not with the finger – tips but with the nails. The name SARANGI is derived from the world “Sau Rangi”, which means “Hundred Colored”, describing its ability to convey a wide range of mood and emotion. Similar musical instrument can be found in other parts of the world. For example: the western violin. Sarinda, the Indian musical instrument probably is the closest in resemblance to the Sarangi. In Nepal Sarangi is mostly played by Gandharva a caste which earns their living by playing Sarangi Instrument. The Gandharvas learn to sing their unique songs and play the Sarangi in a traditional way – elders pass on their skills to younger generations. The Sarangi is most popular in Nepal and North India.

saarangi by nischhal pradhan

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