Topic of the Day – Musical Instruments – Tata Vadya

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Musical Instruments – Tata Vadya

Tata Vadya or Chordophones are Stringed instruments. The tata vadya is a group of musical instruments in which sound is made by the vibration of a chord or a string. The vibrations are made by plucking a string or bowing on a string that has been stretched or pulled tight. The pitch of the note produced depends on the length of the vibrating wire or string, the degree of tightening of the string. The duration for which the sound lasts also marginally depends on the vibrating string’s length.

Tata Vadya Types

There are 2 types of Tata Vadya – the plucked and the bowed. They are further classified into the fretted and non-fretted variety.

Bowed instruments are usually used as an accompaniment to vocal music and are referred to as Geetanuga. They are divided into two broad categories-the upright and the inverted.

  • In the first category, i.e, upright variety, the fingerboard is held straight up as in the case of Sarangi.
  • In the second category, that is, in the inverted variety, the board or resonator is held towards the shoulder and the fingerboard i.e, dandi is held across the arm of the player as in the case of the Ravanhastaveena, the Banam, the Violin etc.
  • The oldest evidence of stringed instruments in India are harps in the shape of the hunters’ bow. They had many parallel strings made of gut or fibre. There used to be one string for each note, plucked either with the fingers or with a plectrum known as the kona.
  • Veena was the generic name for stringed instruments mentioned in the ancient texts: and there are the ekatantri, the sata-tantri veena, etc.
  • The Chitra Veena had 7 strings and was played with the fingers and the Vipanchi having 9 strings was played with a plectrum. These instruments have been represented in several murals and scultpures of ancient India, like in the Sanchi Stupa and Bharhut inscriptions, etc.
  • Tamil texts mention the Yazh (dated 2nd century onwards). The playing of instruments was a major part of ceremonies and rituals.
  • Another type is of the dulcimer variety, where several strings are stretched on a wooden box. The best-known dulcimer type was the sata-tantri veena – the hundred stringed veena. A close relative of this is the Santoor. The Santoor is still played in Kashmir and some other parts of the country.
  • Stringed instruments of the fingerboard type developed a little later on in India. This variety was most-suited for Raga Music and many contemporary instruments of the concert platform (fretted/unfretted/bowed/plucked) come under this category. These instruments produce a rich tone and offer continuity in sound. In this type, all the notes are created on 1 chord (wire or string) by changing the length of the wire.

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