July 1, 2020


Indigenous Art & Culture

Anurupa Hazra

PhD Scholar, Department of Instrumental Music, Rabindra Bharati University


Instruments are inseparable part of music and pursuing knowledge on the history and evolution of musical instruments is important. The musical instruments are of four types – a) Tata, string instruments, b) Avanaddha, skin covered hollowed instruments, c) Sushira, wind instruments and d) Ghana, solid instruments. This paper focuses on the string instrument. Synthesizing evidence from existing literature and based on discussions with experts, the paper provides information on string instrument’s invention, evolution and dominance over other instruments and influence on Indian music. The first stringed instrument invented was the hunter’s bow and thus, ‘Dhanuryantra’ is the father of all stringed instruments from the ancient period till now. There has been an evolutionary trend in Indian musical instruments from the Ancient period to the 12th or 13th century, and the continuity of the instrument’s structural variation was maintained. Later, in the Middle age, along with some ancient instruments, newer instruments got developed. In the post 15th century, along with Veena-like instruments, other stringed instruments such as Sitar, Sarod, Esraj, Surbahar, Sarengi, Surshringer, Tanpura, Swaramandal, Santoor, Rabab, Violin, etc. made their place and were admired in Indian classical music.


Music and musical instruments had their own fields of development since the primitive age. Human civilization has progressed to the current stage through continuous evolution from the primitive age with its own way as per the time requirements. Similarly, with the progression of life, music, art, dance, etc. have also changed their forms and modes of expressions. Most probably, ancient people had unknowingly chosen things such as music, art, dance and instruments for recreation and the idea might have been laid latent in their mind. 

According to Muni Bharat’s ‘Natya Shastra’, there are three genre of music, viz. ‘Geet’ (Vocal music), ‘Nritya’ (Dance), and ‘Vadya’ (Instrumental music). In that sense, instruments are imperative part of music and pursuing knowledge on the history and evolution of musical instruments is important. The core of instrumental music is instrument. Before starting a discussion on the history and development of musical instruments, we need to know the definition of musical instruments. As per Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary, ‘instrument’ means ‘an object or device for producing musical sounds’ or ‘a tool or implement, especially one for precision work’. So, the function of a musical instrument is to create a nice sound which can be called music. Ancient scholars have classified musical instruments according to some specific features. For example, in Muni Bharat’s ‘Natya Shastra’, a landmark book on Indian music scenario, musical instruments have been nicely classified. While classifying musical instruments in the 28th chapter, Bharat Muni has remarked,

“Tatang tantree gatang jneyamabandhang tu poushkaram

Ghanang talastu bijneya sushiro bangsh uchyate. 2. N.S.”

The musical instruments are fourfold – Tata vadya, which means string instruments, Avanaddha vadya, which means skin covered hollowed instruments, Sushira vadya, which means wind instruments and Ghana vadya, which means solid instruments.1 In the 13th Century, Sharngadeva, another great scholar of ancient music, also has acknowledged Muni Bharat’s classification of musical instruments and has written “Geetang chaturbidhad baddyajjayate choparjyate” – the four types of musical instruments are “Tata sushirang chavanaddhang ghanamiti smritam” – i.e., 1) Tata (tantree), 2) Sushira, 3) Avanaddha and 4) Ghana.2 The subsequent scholars have also complied with this classification of Indian musical instruments. This paper focuses on the string instrument and provides information on its invention, evolution and dominance over other instruments and influence on Indian music. 

Invention of string instrument

Like the other three types of musical instruments, Indian string instruments have a rich cultural heritage. According to various music scholars, string instruments have appeared in the Indian musical scenario after Avanaddha (skin-covered instruments) and Sushira (wind instruments), although there are differences of opinion regarding this. Most of them have agreed to the fact that the most ancient string instrument was bow and arrow, popular as ‘Dhanurveena’. In the ancient post-stone era, instead of stones people learnt to use bow and arrow for hunting. Hunters, in their leisure time, used to strike the string of the bow that produced a nice sound. This is how the string instrument was invented. S. Krishnaswami, in his ‘Musical Instrument of India’ has commented – “the first stringed instrument invented by man was the hunter’s bow. When the hunter shot his arrow, he must have noted the bow string produced a pleasant humming sound. If he twanged the bow string near the cavity of the mouth, the sound was amplified. If he rested the bow on some hollow object, the resonance increased still further.”3 This bow is the source of inventing similar harp-like musical instruments. Mr. Jitendra Mohan Sengupta, in his book ‘Bharatiya  Vadyayantra o Yantrasadhak’ has mentioned that when ancient people had acquired the sense that the density of sound of a bow depends upon the length, thickness and strain of the string, they tried to use different length of string with different strain in the same bow. This experiment had resulted in the invention of a harp-like string instrument. Harp is a very popular musical instrument among the Egyptians and the Assyrian.4

Initial concept of stringed instruments

It is believed that in the first half of the ancient era, bow instrument had given birth to one of the earliest popular stringed instruments ‘Veena’. Mr. Jitendra Mohan Sengupta, in his book mentioned that stringed instruments like the ‘Ektara’, ‘Dotara’ were made from the string of one or two animals.4 Those instruments resembled modern ‘Veena’. It can easily be said that ancient ‘Dhanuryantra’ was the ancestor of modern ‘Veena’. Most of the scholars, not only in India, but also in other developed countries have admitted this. We may, therefore, conclude that ‘Dhanuryantra’ is the father of all stringed instruments from the ancient period till now. From the ancient period, the word ‘Veena’ referred to any stringed instrument. Hence Veena and stringed instrument are almost same in the meaning. Various forms of Veena have evolved through the ages from one stringed hunting bow. The shape of ‘Vipanchi Veena’ confirms its origin from the ancient ‘Dhanuryantra’. The one stringed Veena had gradually been evolved to five stringed, and finally to nine stringed Vipanchi Veena. This Vipanchi Veena and Chitra Veena were one of the major musical instruments in the earlier periods.

Variety of stringed instruments

With the advancement of human innovative mind, they had experimented to develop different types of stringed instruments. This resulted in the invention of advanced quality stringed instruments such as ‘Chitra Veena’, ‘Vipanchi Veena’, ‘Kachchhapi Veena’, ‘Katyayani Veena’, ‘Shatatantri Veena’, ‘Ektantri Veena’, ‘Mahati Veena’, ‘Tamburu Veena’, etc. Sir Shourindra Mohan Tagore, in his book ‘Yantrakosh’ has opined that ancient classical musicians had developed various forms of Veena from one and only contemporary stringed instrument called ‘Veena’.5 They also had named those instruments differently depending on the shape and nature but keeping the uniformity in keeping the name ‘Veena’.

The discussions from the classical music scholars reveal that ancient Veena-like instruments have changed their shapes and nature to produce a variety of stringed instruments in the later periods (especially in the Middle Age or Modern Age). It can be noted here that in the Vedic Age there was an instrument called ‘Shatatantri Veena’, which means a Veena with hundred strings. Later, a new instrument ‘Santoor’ was developed that resembled the hundred stringed Veena. In India, presently a Santoor-like musical instrument can be seen in Kashmir. In the same way, ‘Sitar’ has come from seven-stringed ‘Chitra Veena’, and ‘Tanpura’ has come from ‘Tamburu Veena’. According to Dr Amiyanath Sanyal, the name suggests the number of strings of a particular Veena.6 For example, the term ‘Ekatantri’ denotes single string, ‘Tritantri’ suggests triple strings. ‘Nakul Veena’ was consisted of dual strings, ‘Chitra Veena’ and ‘Vipanchi Veena’ had seven and nine strings respectively. The latter two types were transformed into Sitar and Surshringar of India. The word ‘Chitra’ is almost homophonic with the Western ‘Chithara’ or the Persian ‘Setara’. It appears from the description of ‘Kinnari Veena’ that it is the same instrument of Northern India’s Veena with two ‘tumba’. The description of ‘Pinaki Veena’ suggests it is the previous form of modern Esraj. 

Amongst the earliest string instruments, the most famous two were ‘Vipanchi Veena’ (mentioned in the Ramayana) and ‘Kachchhapi Veena’ (mentioned in the Mahabharata). While seeking the source of invention of these two Veenas, it has been found that ‘Kachchhapi’ is named after the famous monk Kashyap. The word ‘Kashyap’ is a Vedik word. ‘Vipanchi Veena has come from ‘Dhanurveena’ or ‘Dhanuryantra’. The ‘Kaspian Veena’, prevailed in Baijentium in 1500 B.C. was actually a two stringed (1st and 5th) Veena, most probably popularized throughout the Kaspian Sea area. Nevertheless, these Kaspian Veena, Kashyapi Veena and Kachchhapi Veena were inter-related.

The musical scholars and experts believe that some musical stringed instruments are in use in India since the ancient period. According to C.R. Day, “Numbers of instruments still in use in India have not altered in the smallest particulars their ancient forms. The Vina, the Tamburi or Tambaru vina and the Kinnari still remain just as they are described in the ancient books, even down to the very details of the carving with which they are adorned so conservative are the people who use them of all connected with the art they hold to be so sacred.” 7

The Kinnari Veena, Alapini Veena, etc. were invented in the ancient period as their names had been mentioned in ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’ by Sharngadeva in the 13th century.2 Some people think that Muni Matang had left his contribution while inventing Kinnari Veena. Sri Mrinmoy Ray described the Kinnari Veena as the modified version of Alapini Veena and as per him, the Kinnari Veena has an inseparable relation with Muni Matang.8 The particular structure of Kinnari Veena tells that Alapini or Alabani Veena (one stringed and then two stringed with frets) was the ancestor of the former type. Kinnari Veena was consisted of a finger board, fourteen frets and more than one gourd. It is, therefore, quite natural that Kinnari Veena was the more renovated version of Alapani Veena. Kinnari Veena had three divisions – Laghu (little) Kinnari, Madhya (middle) Kinnari, Brihad (large) Kinnari. Among these three types, the first one was of two gourds, the second one had three gourds and the third type had four gourds. On the other hand, Mr. Ajoy Sinha Roy thinks that Kinnari Veena and Alapini Veena are almost contemporary (Approximately 400/700 A.D.).9 According to some musicians, this Kinnari Veena was the father of Saraswati Veena or Mahati Veena.

While looking for the earliest Veena with frets, the first name that comes into mind is the Kinnari Veena. It is believed that based on the Kinnari Veena, the Ustads of Seni Gharana in the Mughal period refashioned the Saraswati Veena that was known as ‘Beena’. Mr. E.S. Perera has noted, “Recent investigations have revealed that the first veena with frets was the invention of Matanga’s Kinnari Veena. A comperative study of the Rudra Veena shows that it is an improved version of the Kinnari Veena.  Ahobals ‘Sangit-Parijat’ and ‘Radha Govinda Sangit Sar’ mention the name of Rudra Veena. The main difference between the Rudra Veena and Kinnari Veenas concerns the arrangement of the frets. Based on this Kinnari Veena, the Utsads of the Seni Gharana in the Mughal Period refashioned their Saraswati Veena, which is now commonly referred to as Beena.”10

In this regard, Dr Lalmani Misra in his book ‘Tantrinad’ mentioned that Muni Matang-made Kinnari Veena was the first Veena in the world that had fret. From 800 A.D. to 1200 A.D., several variants had come into the musical scenario of Kinnari Veena, but the use of frets in three-stringed Veena started following the footprints of Kinnari Veena.11

Contribution of Veena in Raga

The main theme of Indian classical music is making Raga. The classical music has two sides: 1) Nibaddha Sangeet (i.e. music confined by beats) and 2) Anibaddha Sangeet (i.e. music not confined by beats). Creation of melody through musical instruments is really excellent. In recent times, the classical music is also known as ‘Raga Sangeet’. Mr. Ajoy Sinha Roy, in his book ‘Musing on Music’ has said, “It can be easily seen that very name Alapini Veena suggests that the instrument was directly connected with the music form Alap and Alap began to be practised and developed  from the days of the Alapini.”9 Mr. Sinha Roy believed that Kinnari Veena was a better medium in creating Alaap than Alapini Veena. In the Mediaeval period, Tansen’s son-in-law Naubat Khan excelled in Kinnari Veena. The other variants of the Veena family were also in full use during that period. Mr. Sinha Roy said, “While Alapini was the first medium of expression of the form Alap, Kinnari was an improved version and was a better medium than Alapini and was more in vogue.”9 He described that the evolution process of Kinnari reached its peak during the time of Misri Singha (Naubat Khan after conversion to Islam). Many of its innovations are credited to him and during this period the Saraswati Veena, Mahati Veena or the Bin took its final shape. As per Sinha Roy, “it attained fall size, achieved an expanded tonal compass and other subtleties which made this musical instrument foremost among the Veena group. While the tonal compass of the instrument was expanded to complete four octaves, it also achieved the capacity to produce Meend, Gamak, Ghasit, Soot and other embellishments to the fullest extent. It gradually came to acquire the reputation of being the greatest medium of the musical form Alap amongst the Indian musical instruments.” 9

Development of stringed instruments

From Kinnari Veena, similar kinds of more developed musical instruments such as ‘Tarafdari Sitar’, ‘Surbahar’, ‘Sarod’, etc. had arrived in Indian classical music. Music scholar Sri Mrinmoy Roy thinks that instruments like ‘Rabab’, ‘Surshringar’, ‘Sarod’, etc. have evolved from Chitra Veena. Swami Prajnanananda Ji, however, had opined that Sitar has evolved from Chitra Veena. Like most of the Oriental and Western scholars, he also believed that the seven-stringed instrument Sitar had appeared in India in the mediaeval period from Chitra Veena.12

In Indian classical music, one of the most prominent and special instruments was Veena or Veena-like instruments that had occupied their special place in classical music since the ancient period. An ‘Alap’ in Raga sangeet can be nicely expressed through a Veena. In this regard, Mr. Ajoy Sinha Roy, has commented, “As the medium of proper expression of the form Alap, the musical instruments Veena has occupied a special position from ancient times.  In those days all stringed musical instruments were called Veena. There were as many as 58 Veenas in Vouge at the time. But only a few have survived through the evolutionary process as the filling medium of expression of the musical form, Alap. Amongst them the Saraswati Veena (Mahati Veena, Veena, Bin), Rudra Veena (Rabab) and the Vichitra Veena deserve special mention. There are many other musical instruments in the Veena group, but they are basically offshoots of these three types.”9  

In search for the root of Sitar and Surbahar and the relationship between them, Mr. Sinha Roy has stated that both had evolved from Saraswati Veena and are members of the Veena family.  Further, he considers Rudra Veena, Rabab, Sarod, Surshringer and other stringed instruments as members of the Veena family. According to him, “Surbahar and Sitar evolved as logical extensions of Saraswati Veena. Opinions differ whether Sitar and Surbahar trace their lineage from Saraswati Veena, but that they come from the Veena family is undeniable. Similarly, Roudri Veena, Rudra Veena, Rabab, Surshringar and Sarode are regarded as the members of the same family. There have been other members of the Veena family which are mostly extinct today. Amongst these extinct musical instruments belonging to the Veena family, mention may be made of Kinnari Veena and Alapini Veena which served as the medium of expression of Alap in its primitive form. The history and the evolutionary process of Alap inextricably connected with the history and evolution of these musical instruments.”9

Ancient references of stringed instruments

Until the 12th century, many books on musicology mention about various musical instruments. Famous books like Sharngadeva’s ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’, Muni Bharat’s ‘Natyashastra’, etc. have referred to the one-stringed Veena in various names like ‘Original Veena’, ‘Ghoshaka’, ‘Brahmbha Veena’, etc. In this context, B.C. Deva in his book ‘Musical Instruments of India’ has written “The ekatantri (not to be confounded with the ektar, the drone), known as the Ghoshaka to Bharata, is perhaps the best ancient example of this group. Depicted widely in sculpture, it has also been described in many texts as for instance Nanyadeva’s, Sarasvati Hridyalankara (eleventh century) which refers to it as the Brahma Veena, Haripala’s ‘Sangeeta Sudhakara’ (twelfth century), Sarangadeva’s ‘Sangeeta Ratnakara’ (thirteenth century). As Nanyadeva remarks the minutest sruti difference can be obtained on this instrument and ‘Goddess Saraswati herself dwells in the ekatantri’. Sarangadeva calls it the Original Veena.”13 Sharngadeva has also mentioned about three-stringed Veena, which later transformed into a seven-stringed Veena. According to Mr. Lalmani Misra, Tritantri Veena was called ‘Yantra’ in the mediaeval period and later it was called ‘Sitar’. He also said that for a long period, musicians used the three-stringed Veena and its variants for creating sober music. In modern era, it has been divided into two variants – one is with frets and the other without frets. We call the former variant ‘Sitar’ and the latter ‘Tanpura’.

We can find the name of another instrument named ‘Ravanastram’ or ‘Ravanhasta’ or ‘Ravanhata’ in Narada’s ‘Sangeet Makaranda’. This ancient instrument was played with a bow. This instrument was known as Ravani Veena.14 From Sourindra Mohan Tagore’s ‘Yantrakosh’ it appears that there was an ancient instrument of the Hindus named ‘Ravanastram’ which was developed by Lankan King Ravana 5000 years ago and was named after him. Instruments like ‘Urhin’ in China, ‘Kofid’ in Japan, ‘Sarangi’ and ‘Sarinda’ of India and ‘Kemange’ and ‘Rabab’ of Arab and Parsia are all came from this ‘Ravanastram’.5

Apart from these, Sharngadeva had also mentioned ten other types of Veena like Chitra, Vipanchi, Mattakokila, Pinak, Kinnari, Alapini, Nishanka, etc. All of these were created in the earlier period and afterwards had changed their structure, shape and name. Kallinath, in his commentary about Sharngadeva’s ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’ had mentioned a stringed instrument ‘Svaramandal’. The instrument was almost like ancient Mattakokila, as noted by B.C Deva.13 He added, “… the commentary on the Sangeeta Ratnakara says that the Svaramandal was the popular name for the Mattakokila, was this a box-polychord? We have no unequivocal proof, but in Sarangadeva’s time it was an important stringed instrument, throwing the Vipanchi and others to the background.”13

Mediaeval references of stringed instruments

In the mediaeval period, we find a mention of an instrument ‘Pinak’ in Abul Fazal’s ‘Ain-i-Akbari’. The instrument used to have a coiled string. In the ancient period there was a stringed instrument in the same name ‘Pinak Veena’, which was single-stringed and played by finger. Captain Day, in his book ‘The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Decan’, had said, “One of the earliest of stringed instruments was called ‘Pinaka’, and had one string twanged by the fingers; its invention is ascribed to the God Siva.” 7 Mr. Kshetramohan Goswami, in his book ‘Sangeetsar’, has mentioned that there was indeed a stringed instrument in the musical scenario of India though it is not in use now a days. ‘Pinak’ was the favourite instrument of Lord Shiva.15 Sharngadeva also had mentioned about ‘Pinak Veena’ in ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’. According to music scholars, Lord Shiva’s ‘Pinak Veena’ is interconnected to the ‘Pinak Veena’ mentioned by Sharngadeva, there is still scope of discussion, however, about this. Some scholars think that Manipuri ‘Pena’ is related to Lord Shiva’s ‘Pinak Veena’.

In the 13th century A.D., we find a mention of ‘Roudree Veena’. Later, this Veena was popularized as ‘Rudra Veena’. According to Sri Mrinmoy Ray, in 13th century A.D., during the time of Sharngadeva, the ‘Rudra Veena’ was discovered and mentioned as ‘Roudree’ in the book ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’.8 Since then, the ‘Rudra Veena’ gradually gained dominance. In the era of Dhrupad, Samrat Tansen (1510 A.D. – 1520 A.D.), Rudra Veena was one of the most important stringed instruments. Kinnari Veena was gradually losing its place and importance. On the other hand, Indian Rabab (developed from Chitra Veena) was a contemporary of Rudra Veena. Tansen made some structural change in the Rabab. During his time, he was maestro in playing both the Rabab and the Rudra Veena.

It is worth mentioning that the Persians used a string instrument named ‘Qanun’. It looked like a mediaeval stringed instrument ‘Svaramandal’. In search of a connection between Persian Qanun and Indian Santoor, Captain Day has noted that ancient Kattyani Veena or Vedic Shatatantree Veena has evolved through the ages into Persian Qanun and later on Indian Santoor. Western Piano also has linage with Qanun.7 According to him, “The Persians still use an instrument called ‘quanun’, much like that of the same name found in India–a kind of dulcimar, strung with gut or wire-strings, and played upon the plectra fastened to the fingers of the performers. This is a development of the kattyayana vina or shatatantri (i.e. hundred stringed) vina, as it was formerly called. This Persian quanun, the prototype of the mediaeval psaltery, afterward became the santir, which has strings of wire in place of gut, and is played with two sticks, and in the west, it eventually took the form of the dulcimer. Hence, the origin of the complained pianoforte of the present day can thus be traced to the Aryans. And so with many others.”7    

From the book ‘Geetavadyam’, it is found that the Vaan like Veena that is mentioned in the ‘Wrigveda’, the hundred-stringed Vaan Veena has changed its shape and name to be known as the Qanun.14 Herbert A. Popley, in his book ‘The Music of India’, has written, “The Svaramandala is the ancient Indian dulcimer. It is said to be the same as the katyayana-vina, which was invented by the rishi Katyayana and was also called the Sata-tantri-vina, because it had originally hundred strings.”16 It means that Mr. Popley defines the Svaramandal as similar to the Katyayani Veena, which is also known as the Shatatantree Veena, since it had hundred strings.

The ‘Geetavadyam’ mentions that though many people think that monk Katyayan was the creator of Katyayani Veena and invented this in 400 B.C., we believe that this Katyayan, the creator of Shatatantree Veena does not belong to the  reign of King Nanda of Pataliputra, rather he was the Katyayan of Shoutasutra.14 Sir Shourindra Mohan Tagore in his book ‘Yantra Kosh’, stated that monk Katyayan appeared in India during the reign of King Nanda of Pataliputra just after Muni Panini in 400 B.C.5 However, Katyayani Veena has changed its number of strings and shape in various countries and changed their names as well. Finally, the instrument came back to our country by the name ‘Qanun’. The Egyptians used to travel to India for business. At that time one businessman took Katyayani Veena to their country, as opined by famous French scholar Master Velleteau.5 While writing the history of music of Egypt, he said that the Egyptians took Katyayani Veena from India and made ‘Quatoon’ from it, following which the Arabians took the Egyptian Quatoon to their land and renamed the instrument as the ‘Qanun’. There is, however, differences in opinion among scholars regarding this, because both the Persian and the Arabians demand that the Qanun is an exclusive instrument invented by them. Some references can be apt to be given here. In his ‘Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments’, Henry George Farmer has called Al-Farabi of Arabia as the inventor of the Qanun.17 In Havard Dictionary of Music it is written, “An Arabic Psaltery with 26 gut strings, the name of which is derived from the Greek word ‘canon; i.e. monochord, occurs as early as in the tenth century in a story of the Arabian nights. In the latter middle ages (12th century) the instrument was imported into Europe.”18 Herbert A. Popley thinks the Svaramandal as the miniature form of the Qanun. In his ‘The Music of India’ he said, “This instrument is the forefather of Modern Piano which is nothing more than an enlarged Swaramandal.”16

Since the Vedic period till the Mediaeval period, a number of stringed instruments came in the musical scenario of India. The continuity of Indian music and musical instruments up to this period has changed in the Middle Age. Along with vocal music, musical instruments also became widespread and improved in the Middle age. In this era, during the reign of the Muslim rulers, due to the influence of Islamic music various types of musical instruments got originated and developed in Indian music. We can find wealth of information from several books such as ‘Ain-i-Akbari’ of Abul Fazal, ‘Raagdarpan’ of Fakirullah and ‘Tuh-Fat-ul-Hind’ of Mirza Khan in the Middle age music, as noted by Mr. Rajyeswar Mishra. He said that by analysing these three books, one can have a concrete idea about the musical scenario of Mughal period as well as the Muslim period in India.19

These three books provide details about musical instruments in the 15th century. The stringed instruments prevailed in that period were ‘Yantar’, ‘Veen’, ‘Kinnar’, ‘Surveen’, ‘Amriti’, ‘Rabab’, ‘Swaramondal’, ‘Sarengi’, ‘Gheechak’, ‘Pinak’, ‘Adhiti’, ‘Kingira’, etc. The structure of some of the instruments described in the sixth chapter of ‘Ain-i-Akbari’ indicates the similarity between these instruments and some ancient instruments. These instruments have also helped in the development of more sophisticated musical instrument in the later periods. For example, ‘Yantar’ has come from ancient ‘Tritantree Veena’, ‘Veen’ or ‘Veen Sehetar’ has given birth to present ‘Sitar’, ‘Svaramandal’ is the transformed version of ancient ‘Mattokokila’. The ‘Pinak Veena’ of ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’ was also mentioned in ‘Ain-i-Akbari’, where it was called as ‘Surbitan’.


Indian stringed music instruments are evolutionary. The historical evolution of musical instruments suggests that most of them have changed their names, shapes and structures according to the requirement of the age. Most of these instruments have become more sophisticated and flourished in the Middle age and thereafter. From the Ancient period to the 12th or 13th century, there was an evolutionary trend in the musical instruments of India and the continuity of the instrument’s structural variation was maintained. Later, in the Middle age along with some ancient instruments, some newer instruments also were created. The influence of the new culture was felt in all genres of ancient music and no exception in the musical instruments. Not only in the variation in the shape of the instruments, also in the playing techniques, a newer approach was evolved in the Middle age. In the post 15th century, along with Veena-like instruments, other stringed instruments such as Sitar, Sarod, Esraj, Surbahar, Sarengi, Surshringer, Tanpura, Swaramandal, Santoor, Rabab, Violin, etc made their place and has been admired in Indian classical music.


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