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Instrument: Tanpura

Feb 20, 2023
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Tanpura is a long-necked plucked string instrument widely used in the classical music of the Indian subcontinent. It is also known as tambura, tanpuri or drone. The instrument has a hollow body and usually four or five strings, which are tuned to the notes of the raga being performed.

The main purpose of the tanpura is to provide a drone or a continuous harmonic background to the music being played. The sound of the tanpura is soothing and meditative, and it creates a calming effect on the listener. The drone created by the tanpura also helps the musician to stay in tune and maintain the correct pitch throughout the performance.

The tanpura is played by plucking the strings with the fingers of the right hand, while the left hand is used to press and hold the strings against the frets. The instrument is usually played while sitting cross-legged on the floor, and it is placed on the lap or on a small stand in front of the musician.

There are several types of tanpuras, each with their own unique characteristics. The most common types are the male and female tanpuras, which differ in size and tuning. The male tanpura has a larger body and is tuned to a lower pitch, while the female tanpura is smaller and tuned to a higher pitch.

In addition to classical music, the tanpura is also used in devotional music and in fusion music. It is an integral part of the Indian music tradition and is considered to be one of the most important instruments in the classical repertoire.

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Some famous musicians that played the tanpura
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As the tanpura is an essential and ubiquitous instrument in Indian classical music, there have been many famous musicians who have played it. Here are some notable examples:

1. Pandit Ravi Shankar - A legendary sitar player and composer who is widely considered to be one of the greatest Indian classical musicians of all time. He frequently played the tanpura in his performances.

2. Ustad Vilayat Khan - A renowned sitar player who was known for his technical virtuosity and innovative style. He often played the tanpura in his performances.

3. Begum Akhtar - A celebrated ghazal and thumri singer who was known for her emotive and soulful voice. She used the tanpura as a drone accompaniment in her performances.

4. Pandit Jasraj - A classical vocalist who was known for his powerful and expressive voice. He often played the tanpura while singing.

5. Kishori Amonkar - A classical vocalist who was known for her unique style and innovative approach to raga interpretation. She frequently used the tanpura as a drone accompaniment in her performances.

These are just a few examples of the many famous musicians who have played the tanpura. The instrument has been an integral part of Indian classical music for centuries and continues to be a vital component of the tradition today.