History And Types Of Veena Musical Instrument In English

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Veena Musical Instrument
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History And Types Of Veena Musical Instrument

  • Veena, also known as Veena, is comprised of various chordophone instruments from the Indian subcontinent. Ancient musical instruments evolved into many forms, such as lutes, zithers, and bow harps.
  • Many regional designs have different names like Rudra Veena, Saraswati Veena, Vichitra Veena and others. The North Indian Rudra Veena used in Hindustani classical music is of one stick. About 3.5 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 m) long, it has a hollow body and two large resonating gourds under each end to fit the musician’s measurements.
  • The South Indian Saraswati Veena is a veena used in Carnatic classical music. It is a long-necked, pear-shaped veena, but instead of the lower gourd of the North Indian design, it has a pear-shaped piece of wood.

Origin And History

  • The Sanskrit word veena (veena) is a general term for plucked string instruments in ancient and medieval Indian literature. It is mentioned in Rigveda, Samaveda and other Vedic literature such as Shatapatha Brahmana and Taittiriya Samhita.
  • In ancient texts, Narada is credited with inventing the tanpura, and is described as a fretted seven-stringed instrument.
  • According to music professor Sunira Kasliwal, in ancient texts such as the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda (both pre-1000 BCE), as well as the Upanishads (c. 800–300 BCE), a stringed instrument is called a vaana.
  • The word that evolved to become Veena. Early Sanskrit texts refer to any stringed instrument as a vaana; These include bowed, plucked, one string, multiple strings, fretted, non-freted, zither, lute or harp lyre-style string instruments.
  • The Natya Shastra describes a seven-stringed instrument and other stringed instruments in 35 verses, and then describes how the instrument should be played.
  • The technique of performance suggests that the veena in the time of Bharata Muni was quite different from the zither or veena that became popular after the completion of the Natya Shastra. According to Allin Minor and other scholars, the ancient lyre was closer to the bowed lyre.
  • Evidence of early veena and veena styles found in Hindu and Buddhist cave temple carvings in the early centuries of the Common Era.
  • Similarly, Indian sculptures from the middle of the first millennium CE depict musicians playing string instruments. By about the 6th century CE, sculptures of the goddess Saraswati were mainly accompanied by zither-style veena, similar to modern styles.

Construction –

  • At first glance, the difference between the north and south Indian design is the presence of two resonating gourds in the north, while in the south, a pear-shaped wooden body is attached instead of the lower gourd. However, there are other differences and many similarities.
  • Modern designs use fiberglass or other materials instead of hollow jackfruit and gourds. The construction is personalized to the musician’s body proportions so that he can comfortably hold and play it. It grows to about 3.5 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 m). The body is made of special wood and is hollow.
  • Both designs have four melody strings, three drone strings and twenty-four frets. The head of the instrument is usually in the shape of a swan and the outer surfaces are colorfully decorated with traditional Indian designs.
  • The strings of the melody are tuned to c’ g c G (tonic, fifth, octave and fourth), with the chanterelle often used. Drone strings are tuned to c” g’ c’ (double octave, tonic and octave). Drones are commonly used to create the rhythmic tanams of Indian classical music and to play claps with tali talas.
  • The main string is called the Nayaki string, and in the Saraswati Veena it is on the left side of the stage.
  • The instrument is played with three fingers of the right (dominant) hand, struck inward or outward with a bent-string plectrum (a “mizrab”).
  • The index finger and other fingers alternate between notes by strumming the melody string inward, and the little finger strumming outward on the sympathetic strings.
  • The North Indian Veena has bol letters played on the main string with da, ga, ra and many other fingering combinations and other strings. The veena settings and tuning pegs can be fixed or adjusted by loosening them, with the pole fixed and the cala with loose pegs in such a way that the second string and first string match.
  • The earliest description of the terminology currently used for veena construction, modification and operation appears in Sangita Kudamani by Govinda.

Types Of Veena

  • Being a general name for any string instrument, there are many types of veena. Some important ones are:-

Rudra Veena –

  • The Rudra Veena is a fretted veena, consisting of two large equal-sized tumbas under one stick. This instrument is played by placing one gourd on the knee and the other diagonally over the shoulder.
  • Mythology states that this instrument was made by Lord Shiva. It may be a medieval era invention of 6th century.

Saraswati Veena –

  • The Saraswati Veena is another fretted veena, and is highly revered in Indian traditions, especially Hinduism. It is often depicted, shown as two resonators of different sizes.
  • Earlier known as Raghunatha Veena during the period of King Raghunatha Nayaka. It is played by holding it at about a 45 degree angle to one’s body, and the small gourd is placed on the musician’s left thigh.

Vichitra Veena –

  • Vichitra Veena and Chitra Veena or Gottuvadyam do not have frets. It sounds close to humming human singer. The grotesque harp is played with an oval or round glass piece, which is used to stop the strings during performance to create delicate musical ornaments and slides.

Sitar –

  • Sitar is a Persian word meaning three strings. Legends state that Amir Khusrau of the Delhi Sultanate renamed the tritantri veena as sitar, but this is unlikely as there is no mention of sitar or sitaria in the list of musical instruments made by Akbar’s historians.

Surbahar Sitar –

  • Surbahar is the bass tune version of the sitar, created due to the fact that sitar players wanted to play a bass tune like the Saraswati Veena.

Alapini Veena –

  • Alapini veena A single-stringed stick-zither-style veena, smaller than a single-stringed veena. It had a half-gourd resonator, which was pressed against the player’s chest while plucking the strings.

Bobbili Veena –

  • Bobbili Veena, a special Saraswati Veena, carved from a single piece of wood. Named after Bobbili in Andhra Pradesh, where the instrument originated.

Chitra Veena –

  • Chitra Veena, a modern 21-string fretless veena, also known as gottuvadyam or kotuvadya. The chitra veena, a 7-stringed bowed veena, remained mainstream from antiquity until about the 5th century CE.

Kachpi Veena –

  • The Kachpi Veena, now called the Kachua Sitar, is made with a wooden model of a tortoise or turtle as a resonator.

Kinnari Veena-

  • Kinnari Veena is one of the three Veena types mentioned in Sangeet Ratnakara written by Sarangadeva. The other two were mentioned as Alapini Veena and a Tantri Veena. Tube zither with multiple gourds for resonators.

Pinaki Veena –

  • Pinaki Veena is related to Sarangi. Bowed Veena like Rudra Veena. The notes were extracted by rotating a stick or coconut shell along the string.

Pulluva Veena –

  • The Pulluva Veena is used by the Pulluvan tribe of Kerala in religious ceremonies and the Pulluvan Pattu.

Mattakokila Veena –

  • Mattakokila Veena (meaning “intoxicating cuckoo”), a 21-stringed instrument, mentioned in literature, type unproven. Possibly an ancient veena (bowed harp) or a mandala.

Mohan Veena –

  • Mohan Veena, a modified sarod, created by sarod player Radhika Mohan Maitra in the 1940s. Composed of a modified Hawaiian guitar and a sarod.

Mayuri Veena-

  • Mayuri Veena, also called Taus (derived from Arabic tawwas meaning, peacock), a musical instrument with a carving of a peacock as a resonator, decorated with real peacock feathers.

Mukha Veena –

  • Mukha Veena, a musical instrument.

Naag Veena

  • Nag Veena, a musical instrument with snake carvings for decoration.

Nagula Veena –

  • Nagula Veena, a musical instrument without a resonator.

Shatatantri Veena

Gayatri Veena

Saptantri Veena

Ranjan Veena

Sagar Veena –

  • Sagar Veena, a Pakistani musical instrument, created in the 1970s by Raza Kazim, a prominent Pakistani lawyer.

Sardiya Veena –

  • Sardiya Veena, now known as Sarod.

Thanjavur Veena-

  • Thanjavur Veena, a special Saraswati Veena, carved from a single piece of wood. Named after Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, where the instrument originated.

Triveni Veena

Which Veena is used in Carnatic classical music?

Saraswati Veena is a type of instrument used in Carnatic classical music.

What is the main string attached to the veena called?

The main string attached to the Veena is called the Nayaki string.

Which metal is used to make Veena?

Jack wood, metal is used to make Veena.

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