Long-forgotten musical instruments on display

Long-forgotten musical instruments on display

Rare instruments on display during an exhibition in Amritsar on Wednesday. Tribune photo

Manmeet Singh Gill

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 26

In times when musical instruments developed in the 19th Century such as harmonium and tabla have acquired the centrestage even in gurbani recitation and have pushed historical instruments like taus, pakawaj and saranda to oblivion, their display at the Amritsar Sahit Utsav is a rare sight.

The other instruments included dhrupad rabab, Afghani rabab, tanpura, taus, dilrupa, esraj, saranda, sarangi and pakawaj. While Bhai Mardana ji immortalised dhrupad rabab, taus was invented by sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind Sahib. Later, Guru Gobind Singh had modified it into a lighter form — dilruba. Even Saranda was invented by fifth Sikh Guru Arjan Dev.

During the days of Sikh Gurus and till much later, the gurbani recitation was performed on traditional instruments. However in the 20th Century, a shift to harmonium and tabla was seen.

Jagdish Singh of Naad Pargaas, the organisers of the Amritsar Sahit Utsav, said: “A few exponents of gurbani are still using the traditional musical instruments. Our objective is to acquaint the present generation with the long-forgotten traditional instruments.”

He said students were inquisitive about these musical instruments which they had never seen in the past.

A student of classical music at an academy run by Naad Pargaas, Prabhjit Singh said: "At present strings of plastic are used in most of the wired instruments, except saranda wherein strings made from veins of goat are still used."

Another student Ravinder Singh said interest in classical instruments was reviving.

"At our academy, around 400 students are attending music classes."

He said the exhibition was organised as part of efforts to increase interest of people in traditional instruments.

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