Esraj Info.

in Info, Israj

Esraj is one of the string instruments which has been in the existence from around 200 years. So it is not an ancient instrument. It can be commonly found in the eastern and central parts of India. It belongs to a category of bowed string instruments. Esraj is used in a wide variety of musical styles. A variation of Israj called Dilruba is commonly used in the North India.

It consists of a Sitar-like neck along with 20 metal frets. It has 4 main bowed strings for controlling the sound. It also contains around 15 sympathetic strings held on a wooden rack. Its soundboard is made out from a stretched animal(usually goat) skin. A gourd may be present occasionally for the enhancement of tonal quality and maintaining the balance.

It is believed contain features from Sarangi and Sitar. Base looks similar to that of Sarangi while neck and strings are same as found in Sitar. Unlike Sarangi, it is more easier to play Israj.

While playing, Esraj is placed between the knees while kneeling and it rests over the left shoulder. One hand is used for playing the strings and other one for controlling the frets.

Two techniques exist for playing the same. The first one focuses more over Sitar, and Index finger is preferred for playing strings. Middle finger is used only when the tone needs to be increased.

In other method, Sarangi is favored. Middle finger is coupled with index one for playing purpose. In both methods, strings are slightly touched to the frets which assists in changing the intonation.

Esraj is widely used in Rabindra Sangeet as an accompanying instrument. It is also sometimes used for interpreting Hindustani Sangeet in Vishnupur Tradition.

Some of notable players of Esraj are Pandit Ranadhir Ray, Kalipada Ghoshal, Ashesh Bandopadhyay, Buddhadeb Das, Ravi Shankar, S. N. Bose etc. Mr.Kanilal Dheri of Gaya is regarded as the Best Esraj player.

Famous Esraj manufacturers of India are: Maharaja musicals, Calcutta Musical Depot etc.

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