On 22 September, the research team for the Music on the move initiative visited the town of Banepa, some 30 kilometres away from Kathmandu, to meet Ram Manandhar at his woodwork shop. In addition to making furniture, which is his main form of livelihood, Manandhar is also a skilled sarangi maker. A large percentage of the sarangis in circulation within the Kathmandu Valley are his creations. Below is a basic summary of the materials and measurements involved in the making of a sarangi. This is the first in a series of articles to appear on the sarangi’s organology.
Parts of a whole
The sarangi has a total of six parts of divisions as follows:
First division: The keys, at three inches
Second division: The bridge, at 1/2 inches
Third division: The neck, at 3.25 inches
Fourth division: The hollow section of 5.5 inches
Fifth division: The stand at 2.1 inches
Sixth division: The skin at 3.2 inches
The knot of the sarangi, also called the mura, is 8-8.5 inches
The dimensions of the sarangi depends on the its scale and range capabilities. The A-B-C-D range sarangi has a neck length of 3.25 inchs and a bridge of 1/2 inches. Meanwhile, the E-F-G range sarangi has a neck length of 4.15 inches and a bridge of 2.15 inches.
The string used can be of a variety of kinds including telephone wire, guitar strings, monkey gut and cycle gear wire.
The steps to making the bow of the sarangi are as follows
- Cut the bamboo to a length of about 18-19 inches
- Make small holes on both ends with a drilling machine.
- The plant Kyaktuke is used – though nylon is an increasingly popular option –
to tie onto the bow (The Kyaktuke threads are softened by soaking in water for one hour and then tied onto the bow on both ends.)
– The bamboo piece is curved
– The skin to cover the hollow part of the sarangi is soaked in water for about 7-8 hours, till it softens. It is then rubbed on a rough surface by hand and pasted onto the instrument with glue. This is how the resonator is made.
– The bridge and string stand are mounted before adjusting the four strings of the sarangi.