Name: Saraswati Veena.
Plucked Lute > Chordophone.
South India > South Asia.
Scale Length cm.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Acquisition Date:
Acquisition Source:
Randy Raine Reusch @

Description: 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 slide.

Origins: There are several ancient texts that mention references to the word “Vina”. The Mahabharata and the puranas mention various types of vina. 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 or Tantri. The 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.

Tunings: Sarasvati Veena's are 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. The carnatic approach to playing violin by musicians (L. Shankar), electric mandolin (U. Surinivas), electric guitar (Sukamar Prasad & Prassana) is the use of fifths and octaves which allows for the playing of ragam on Western stringed instruments

Saraswati Veena Tunings
De facto B E B e

Bb Eb Bb eb (e flat)