Today on Ecléctico you're listening to a raga by Indian sarod player Amjad Ali Khan. I highly recommend you go deeper by reading about the sarod, it's build and history, and this and the other ragas on this record on Real World Records.
"Sandhya" by Amjad Ali Khan
2004 | Sarod player from Gwalior, India
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The sarod is a beautiful, complex string instrument, which originates from the Afghan rabab —a central Asian wooden lute. The name comes from the Persian sarood, meaning ‘melody’, referring to its more melodic tone. Smaller than the more widely known sitar, the sarod easily sits in the player’s lap at around 3 feet long. It is played with a plectrum of ivory or coconut shell, which can be used very lightly or with more force to create a vast range of sounds and moods.
The instrument has six strings, four melodic and two drones, which provide the rhythmic background, and between eleven and sixteen sympathetic strings which improve resonance, tuned to the notes of the particular raga. A sarod is normally made from teak to give a full rich sound and the front of the wooden belly is covered in goatskin. The fretless steel-clad fingerboard, introduced by Amjad Ali Khan’s forefathers to replace the wooden fretted neck of the rabab, allows the player’s fingers to slide easily over seven notes or more, a technique used at the beginning of a composition to establish the raga.
It is the instrument’s melodic strings which allow the player almost to sing through the sarod, and its range and sonority allow a great diversity of sound and mood. Amjad Ali Khan’s own particular technique is to use the fingernails of his left hand to stop the strings (others might use the fingertips) and it is the fast staccato passages up and down the neck for which he is renowned.
The ragas on this album are all composed by Amjad Ali Khan. His love for and belief in his music has enabled him to interpret long established traditions of Indian classical music in a new and refreshing way, whilst still respecting the time-honoured tradition so closely associated with his family.
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