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Tambura Musical Instrument – Tanpura In Hindu Religion

Tambura, also known as Tanpura, is a sophisticated string musical instrument in Hindu religion and it evolved from ek-tari a single stringed instrument from ancient India. Ek-tari was developed into tamburi. Tambura is a stringed instrument, one meter in length, and is very handy and even portable like ek-tari. The resonance box is made of wood and is spherical in shape. The spherical box has a covering made out of a plain flat plank.

In Hindu religion, the instrument has a long history and Sage Narada is shown carrying the tambura with him always. Tumburu Gandharva is associated with the musical instrument.

Tanpura has been developed from tamburi. The Prakrit word tumba means a gourd popular in Maharashtra, as pumpkin. It is grown extensively all over Maharashtra but the pumpkin used in the preparation of the sound-box of tambura is especially cultivated, considering the requirements of different sizes. The fruit, when ripe, is plucked and allowed to dry and is seasoned. It is then cut open; the inner pulp is removed and is covered with a thin plank of wood.

The size and length of the danda varies according to the required pitch. Pumpkin is used as a sound box, especially in North India. Small, thin cotton, woolen, silken threads, which are called javaris are inserted in the gaps of the strings on the sound box. By correct adjustment of these javaris the strings of tambura emit rich sounds full of resonance. For classical or light music, the background resonance of the sound is provided by tambura, both in vocal or instrumental music.

In classical concerts, there will always be a tambura artist, harping on the strings. Some musicians harp on the strings themselves. Some vocal experts, particularly in Hindustani style, keep two tamburas on each side for total tonal synchrony.

Bibliography
Musical Instruments of India : Their History And Development (1978) Bigamudre Chaitanya Deva: published by Firma KLM Kolkata.
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume X page 287-88 - IHRF




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