Tanpura Info

in Info, Tanpura


Tanpura is drone instrument and it has come from the family of lute instruments. It is a string instrument which is known as Tanpura in North India and as Tambura, thamboora, thambura, or tamboora in Southern part of India.

Tanpura is usually carved out of jackwood. It does not contain frets. A long neck contains a round shaped resonator at the end which vibrates and increases the sound. tuning of the instrument can be performed with the help of tuning pegs present at the top end of the neck.

About 4 strings are present between the tuning pegs and the resonator which pass over an ivory bridge. Along with these, silk threads called ‘jeeva’ are also used which helps in generating buzz sound and in enhancing the tonal quality. This feature makes tanpura a unique instrument.

Based upon size, tanpura can be male or female. A male tanpura is larger than a female version. Also there are three other styles of tambura known as Miraj style, Tanjore style and Tamburi(an instrumental version).

A Miraj style is generally used by Hindustani(North-Indian) musicians. It is about 3-5 feet in length and a non-tapered neck. Its resonator can be usually made of gourd but sometimes from wood too.

The Tanjore style is preferred in the Carnatic(South-Indian) Sangeet. It consists of a tapered neck, flat front plate and a wooden resonator. It has same length as that of Miraj style.

Tamburi is the instrumental version of tanpura. It is about 2-3 feet in length and contains a curved wooden resonator. It might consist of 4, 5 or even 6 strings. Due to its different size, it is played differently than other tanpuras. Although it does not have too good sound but it is favoured due to its portability. It is much easier to tune and maintain the same.

While playing tambura, it is placed on the right lap. Strings are controlled with right hand and resonator with the left one. First string is initially plucked with middle finger and the remaining ones with index finger.

Tanpura is mainly used in concerts, but it is never played by the main artist. Tambura artist sits behind the main artist and starts playing the same before the concert starts and plays till the end. It is acts as an accompaniment to a bansuri player and assists him in case he/she gets tired during the concert.

Famous Tanpura Manufacturers of India are: Maharaja Musicals, Bina Music Store, Ashutosh Bhowmick, Music Ashram, Jamuna Dass & Sons, Chopra Musicals etc.

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