What Is The Sarod Instrument? The Lesser-Known Indian Gem

what-is-a-sarod-Is Sarod Difficult to Play Is Sarod and Sitar the Same

What Is a Sarod?

You know those typical Hindu movie or television musical scores? One of the unique sounds that produced them is the sarod. 

A sarod is a stringed instrument with 25 strings, 15 of which are sympathetic–meaning they resonate the vibrations of their nearby strings. It has a broad neck and its metal fingerboards are distinct with no frets, allowing the player’s fingers to slide on the fingerboards for pitch differences. The bottom part of the sarod is shaped like a gourd making it similar to a sitar. 

When it comes to the question ‘what is the sarod instrument?’ One may see the sarod and immediately liken it to the common lute; that’s because it is indeed part of the lute family.

The instrument is played using a plectrum at the right hand used to pluck the strings while the left hand presses on the strings.Wood covered with skin is usually the built of the sarod’s body and a metal gourd in the instrument serves as the resonator for sympathetic harmony. 

Common to Northern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the sarod instrument is adapted from the Afghan rahab which made its appearance in India during the 16th century. Nowadays, a more modern 19th century style sarod measures 100 cm and is more commonly used by players around South Asia. 

Is Sarod Difficult to Play?

what-is-a-sarod-Is Sarod Difficult to Play Is Sarod and Sitar the Same

Playing an instrument with 25 strings seems intimidating for real. If one is eager and has experienced playing any string instrument, the sarod is a doable feat. But fret not (pun intended). 

According to sarod players, what makes it more difficult to maneuver than the sitar is the lack of frets. Players need to manually press on the fingerboard to get to a specific pitch. Newbies need to learn proper plucking using the plectrum and placement of the left hand on the strings along with guidance from a professional sarod player. 

It boils down to coaching, most players say. A good coach first teaches correct plectrum grip, finger placement, and pluck intensity. People with no experience playing stringed instruments but are interested in playing the sarod whether as a hobby or a cultural appreciation practice can definitely sit with a coach to help them learn correctly.

With consistent coaching and dedication, one should get the hang of the basics in around six months. 

Is Sarod and Sitar the Same?

Aside from the question of ‘what is the sarod instrument?’ comes the question of whether the sarod and sitar are the same or in some way similar.

The noticeable difference between the sitar and sarod would be the latter’s lack of frets.

There are notably more people who prefer being a sitarist than a sarodist. Mainly because the presence of frets on a sitar makes it easier to memorize pitches rather than DIY-ing pitches on a sarod. 

A sitar produces a twangy, happy tune when plucked and contrasts a sarod’s deep and brooding tone. For people who like the challenge of playing the sarod, what makes it stand out is the instrument’s ability to take a note up to an octave while a sitar can only carry up to five notes. 

Still, a sarod stands out with its rich and rhythmic patterns.

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