Lute > Chordophone.
> India > South Asia.
Length 63 cm.
The sarasvati veena or raghunatha veena is an a
plucked lute and member of the chordophone family of musical
instruments. This musical instrument is one of the main traditional
stringed instruments present in Carnatic (South Indian) classical music.
As its name sake this instrument is directly associated with Sarasvati
the goddess of music, knowledge and learning. While this particular
instrument is fretted and played with a plectrum (mizrab). The fretless
brother of this instrument being the “Ghoduvadtyam” is played with a
Several ancient texts the first being the Ramayana,
Bhagavata, Mahabharata and Puranas all contain references to various
types of veena. In the Ramayana one will find the mentioning a musical
instrument called the “Vipanchi veena” who originally had 9 strings. In
the Ramayana particular veena is also referred to as the “vipanchi
veena”. Through out the epic the veena is also referred to as the Laya
current form of sarasvati veena evolved in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
during the reign of Raghunatha Nayak (1600 to 1634). Prior to his time
the number of frets were more or less moveable frets according to the
musicologist Padmabushan Prof. Sambamurthy. Both traditional and
contemporary repertoires are played on this instrument. One who
performs the veena is referred to as a vainika. Sarasvati Veena's
usually tuned to a Sa Pa Sa scheme that incorporates an octave and a
fifth. For example B E B e or Bb Eb Bb eb (e flat) or they maybe tuned
according to the ragam performed.
Construction: The main portions being the body (kudam) and neck
(dandi) are carved from jackwood (Cryptocarya glaucescens). A total of
24 brass or bell metal frets are added in two parallel rails of black
wax. The frets are affixed in position while the wax settles near the
end of the manufacturing process. Four main playing strings are added
and three symathetic strings, both the playing and sympathetic strings
run across the same wooden bridge (kudarai). The wooden bridge which
has a plate of brass affixed to the top and a seperate piece of brass
for the sympathetic strings. A total of seven tuning pegs (kunti) are
inserted into the musical instrument. Two rosettes formerly of ivory
now usually plastic are inlaid into the sound board (palakai) affixed
to the resonator.
New Grove Dictionary of Music by Stanley Sadie, Pages 732-733
article contributed by Alastair Dick (1, 5-8(i), 9-10, Gordon Geekie
(8(ii), Richard Widdess (2-4). The Garland Encyclopedia of World
Music. Websites: www.