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Bowed Instruments

The best-known Indian string instruments are dilruba, esraj and sarangi. They are used traditionally mainly to accompany singing, because they can imitate vocal phrasing almost perfectly. Their sound is rich, resonant and full of overtones. They owe these qualities to their sympathetic strings and a goatskin membrane stretched on the corpus.

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The esraj comes originally from Bengal. Its fine sound makes it particularly suitable for the accompaniment of Tagore songs, for many forms of spiritual music and for classical Indian ragas.



The dilruba is a little bigger and has more strings than the traditional esraj – and hence has a fuller, more powerful sound.



The sharp, slightly nasal sound of the sarangi is one of the most impressive and unusual acoustic colours brought forth from India. The instrument is difficult to play, but offers a unique richness of expression.