Tambura and Veena are the two types of musical instruments that are specially used in India. Tambura, a plucked-stringed string instrument, is used to fix the Shruti, or voice alignment, or sound alignment, during a performance. Veena, a similar plucked-stringed stringed instruments, is used in Carnatic tradition.
The Tambura has a very long neck and is plucked. Tambura’s body is similar to that of Sitar. Veena has frets, but the Tambura does not. Tamburas are available in different sizes and have four or five strings. The strings are plucked one by one to create a harmonic resonance of the fundamental note. This basic note is known as Shruti.
Tamburas are different sizes for male vocalists and female vocalists. Tamburas used by male vocalists have an approximate open string length of one meter. The tambura of female singers, on the other hand, is about three-quarters the size of that used by male singers.
The word “tambura” is formed from the combination of two words: tan, and pura. Pura is the word for ‘fullness’, while Tan represents a musical phrasem. Tambura is available in three styles: Tanjore, Tamburi, and Miraj. The Hindustani classical musicians use the Miraj style, whereas the Carnatic musicians prefer the Tanjore. Tamburi can be used by solo instrumentalists as a form of accompaniment.
In the early stages of learning music, the harmonium is usually used instead of the tambura. Experts in Tambura playing assist the principal performer with meticulous diligence. Tambura musicians are recognized for their contribution to music.
The tanpura, or tambura in South India is a stringed long-necked instrument. It’s used to create a drone. The tempura is an important part of Indian Classical Music. It does not produce melodies but it provides a constant harmonic accompaniment to the musicians or instruments. Named after the root words “tana”, and “pura”. Tana is a musical expression, while Pura signifies “complete” or “full”. It is the constant, regular, and continuous motion of picking its four strings that produces the continuous, harmonic sound. This soothes and silences the mind of the musician to the exclusion of everything else.
The tanpura emits audio similar to “AUM”, the primal sound of nature. The tanpura helps musicians focus and get into meditation. The tanpura helps musicians maintain their pitch (shruti) when singing, playing instruments or performing.
Sangit Parijat, a 1620 treatise about ancient Indian music, contains the first reference to the tanpura. The tanpura is not found in older texts or statues but was widely used by the time of that period. The tanpura was fully developed by the end of 16th century and appeared in many Moghul artworks.
Tanpuras come in three different types:
- The style tanpura is usually used for Hindustani Music. It measures 3 to 5 feet in length, has a carved resonator, and a straight hollow neck. The base of the tanpura is flattened, which allows it to stand upright on its own.
- The Tanjavur-style tambura is used in Carnatic Music and looks different than its North Indian equivalent. The spherical portion is gouged from seasoned wood. It does not use gourd. The base and neck are usually smaller, with a flatter shape. This requires the musician to support the instrument at all times.
- Tanpuris is a small tanpura that’s used for instrumental soloists. They are usually about 2 to 3 feet in length, and have up to a total of 4-6 strings.
- electronic Tanpuras have become very popular with musicians, students and teachers. The tanpuras are lightweight, portable, and box-shaped. They also closely mimic the sound produced by the real instrument. Most purists dismiss electronic tanpuras as having little artistic value or sound quality.
The Construction of the Building
Tanpuras usually have 4 strings and no frets. Rarely can one find a tanpura with 5 or 6 strings. Strings pass across a bridge with a gently curved top. The jivari (literally “soul”) is responsible for the rich overtone sound.
You can manipulate the harmonic content of the tanpura by using a cotton thread and shifting it between the strings and the bridge. Each string has its own harmonic range and resonance. This unique feature is used by musicians to tune their tanpuras in order to showcase a specific “raga waroop”, or to show off the exclusive features of a certain raga.
Tanpuras come in different sizes and shapes. Tanpuras that are “male” are bigger and more powerful than those which are “female”.
Veena, an Indian string instrument. Veena, and variations of it, play an important role in Hindustani Classical Music and Carnatic Classical Music from both North India and South India. It is either a violin or a guitar, depending on which type of Veena you have. It is the construction and shape of the soundbox or resonator that makes the difference. Veena is spelled in many different ways, such as vina, Bina, or Beena. However, they are all the same instrument.
The veena is usually around one meter (3.5 feet) in length. However, the dimensions can change depending on how big the player is. Vainika is a person who sits cross-legged and plays the veena. Some veenas can be played horizontally across the lap, while others are held at an angle similar to a sitar.
Two resonators are located at the ends of the hollow wood body on the back. The larger resonator, which is the main one on the instrument body is situated near the back at the top. Modern versions of the veena use other materials, but traditionally, they are made out of gourds. The neck has 24 metal frets, traditionally embedded with hardened beeswax and charcoal powder.
Veena, a metal-wound string instrument that has four melodic strings and three drone strings on either side of the neck for rhythmic support. To produce sound, the strings are plucking to cause vibrations within the resonators. Vainikas pluck the melodic strings by using picks on their fingers while playing drone strings. Three octaves are available on the veena.
Veena Instrument History
In the Rigveda, and Samaveda of the 1st millennium BCE the veena was mentioned. In Sanskrit, the word “veena” refers to a plucked-stringed instrument. However, in ancient texts Narada, who is credited as having invented what we now know as the modern Veena, appears with this instrument. It is considered to be one of the oldest Indian musical instruments. In the sixth century, Goddess Saraswati is depicted playing a veena that looks similar to what we use today.
The veena’s predecessors were called veenas and varied in terms of size, string count, and technique. Between the 10th century CE and 11th century CE, a version of seven strings with 24 frets was standard. In the 17th Century, during Raghunath Najay’s reign in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, further innovations and modifications were made to the vena.
The veena has been available in electric and electronic forms, just like many other acoustic musical instruments. In the early 1980s, a magnetic pickup or contact microphone was used to amplify the sound. In the early 2000s, modern digital veenas were developed with an integrated amplifier, speaker, and electronic tambura. Digital veenas have different volume settings for the strings, and they also feature adjustable frets.
Veena musical instruments types
There are several different kinds of Veena instruments.
- Saraswati veenas are arguably one of the most popular versions. The Veena is part of the family of lutes and has a hollow, pear-shaped resonator of wood attached to both the neck end and bridge. Second resonator made of gourd is smaller and less expensive than first. The Saraswati Veena, which is usually made of jackfruit or a single wood piece (then known as Ekantha), is most commonly used in South Indian Carnatic Music.
- Rudra Veena: Rudra Veenas have a hollow, fretted neck and two equal-sized resonators below the neck (called Tumba). The gourd resonators and wood tubular body are both made out of bamboo or wood. The instrument, like most veenas has 24 frets. However, these are brass-fitted wooden pieces that have been waxed to the neck. It is less common than other veenas, but it has a unique, rich sound.
- Vichitra Veena: Vichitra Veena differs from other instruments in that it does not have frets. It is also played using a sliding. This version of the Vichitra Veena has 13 sympathetic and five drone strings in addition to the four standard melody strings. Vichitra Veenas are most commonly used in North Indian Hindustani Music.
- Chitra Veena: Chitra Veena or Gottuvadhyam is similar to the Rudra Veena in shape and design, but it has 20 strings. It also features a fretless, fretless neck. The Rudra Veena is played with two gourds resonators at each end. Chitra Veena is a six-stringed instrument with three drones, 11 or 12 sympathetic strings and 6 melody strings.
Various variations of the Veena also evolved into instruments we know today. “Tritantri Veena” has three instead of four strings and was one of the major precursors of sitar. Saradiya Veena was the forerunner of the Sarod, and Pinaki Veena the Sarangi.
Veena Playing Techniques
Some techniques are used by schools and teachers while others are more individual. The techniques also show the characteristics of each raga and its embellishments (called gamaka). Here are a few of the commonest veena techniques.
* Goti, or downward plucking is the technique of striking the strings with the middle and index fingers. Since a pluck from either finger is virtually indistinguishable, the term can be used to describe any plucking technique.
The technique of vali involves the upward pulling out with one finger.
Katri creates a double sound when she plucks two strings in rapid succession.
Kuta refers to the method of plucking strings using the nails on the fingers, most commonly the thumb. The sound is softer than when using picks.
The Portamento technique is popular because it involves sliding the finger from one fret onto the next, rather than lifting your fingers. The two sounds are connected by this technique, rather than two separate ones.
Another way to link sounds is to pull upwards from the lower fret to a high one.
This technique is different from the right-hand plucking and stopping technique. This technique involves lifting your finger from the fret, while still keeping it in place on the string.
The player can adjust the tension by attaching the Veena string to the tuning pegs and bridge. There is no standard tuning for the veena. Birudais are the traditional tuning knobs, which are made from wood. They have smaller springs for making minute adjustments. The wooden pegs can be affected by weather, so veena players often use metal guitar pegs.
The veena’s strings are unique compared to other instruments. As a fretted instrument, the veena is unique in that the ends of its strings are not sharp but curved. The sound is also more gentle because the strings of this instrument aren’t pushed all the way down to the base. This allows for the constant control of tension by the player.
Difference Between Tambura and Veena
|The lute with a long neck and no frets.||The plucked-stringed instrument has frets.|
|In Indian classical music, it is used primarily as a drone sound or background.||The instrument is used for melodies in Indian classical and solo music.|
|The 4 strings are tuned to tonics and dominants of the chromatic scale.||The 7-stringed instrument has 4 playing main strings, 3 drone strings.|
|Strings are played either with a plectrum or with fingers.||Strings are plucked with fingers.|
|The tambura’s body is usually made from wood, and it has a pear-shaped chamber for resonating.||It is made from wood, and it has two resonators: a larger one at the end of the body and a smaller one at the opposite end.|
|Played in a vertical position with the tambura’s base on the ground, the tambura must be held while sitting.||Veenas are also held in horizontal positions on the laps of players.|
|It is often played as a supporting instrument and not in a melodic manner.||Veenas are capable of generating complex and intricate melodies when played in a melodic manner.|
|It is common to combine the tambura with other instruments such as bansuri, sitar, and sarod.||Veenas are often played as solo instruments or as accompaniment to other instruments such as the tabla and the mridangam.|
The tambura is a drone or background sound that supports other instruments. The tambura is used to provide a background drone sound for other instruments. However, the veena can produce complex melodies.