Sarod, a vital lute in the Hindustani music tradition

Sarod, a vital lute in the Hindustani music tradition

Sarod is a stringed musical instrument commonly used in the Hindustani musical tradition of northern India. It belongs to the lute family and is known for its distinctive sound and expressive capabilities.

History and Origin

The exact origin of the sarod is a subject of debate among scholars. Many believe that the sarod is a combination of the ancient vichitravina, the medieval Indian rabab and the modern sursingar. Some scholars also suggest that a similar instrument may have existed some two thousand years ago in ancient India during the Gupta period. In fact, a coin of the Gupta period depicts the great king Samudragupta playing a veena, which many believe is the ancestor of the sarod.

Sarod grew in popularity in the 1800s, especially in Northern India. It underwent further adaptations in the 20th century by musicians such as Allauddin Khan, who made changes to the instrument’s size and tone to improve its sound quality. Over time, the sarod has continued to be customized and adapted by musicians and instrument makers, resulting in variations in its design and techniques.

Sarod, a vital lute in the Hindustani music tradition
IndianCulture sarod special

Game structure and technique

The modern classic sarod is approximately 100 cm (about 39 inches) long and has a slightly waisted wooden body with a leather belly. It features a wide neck with a wide metal-covered fretless fingerboard to accommodate the characteristic slide frets. The instrument usually has four to six main melodic strings, with additional symphony strings and drones. Some strings can be paired in duets, tuned in unison or in octaves.

To play the sarod, the seated musician holds the instrument on their lap. The strings are plucked with a plectrum held in the right hand, while the nails of the left hand press the strings against the fretboard to produce various pitches and flourishes.

Amjad Ali Khan and Sons

Outstanding players

Sarodi has been played by many famous musicians throughout history. Prominent sarod players: Abhisek Lahiri, Abir Hossain, Aditya Verma, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Pandit Alok Lahiri, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Bangash, Anupam Shobhakar, Arnab Chakrabarty, Ayaan Ali Bangash, Basant Kabra, Biswajity, , Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta, Dr. Chandrima Majumdar, Debasmita Bhattacharya, Jotin Bhattacharya, Narendra Nath Dhar, Pradeep Barot, Prattyush Bannerji, Pushpen Dey, Radhika Mohan Maitra, Pandit Rajeev Taranath, Rajrupa Chowdhury, Reeta Das, Sakhawat Hussaintai, , and Pandit Vikash Maharaj.

Sarod books

Sitar and Sarod in the 18th and 19th centuries by Allyn Miner. January 1, 1997
The Invention of the Sarod: A Cultural History by Adrian McNeil. January 1, 2004
How to Play Sarod: A Step by Step Guide including 1 hour of video lessons by Rahul Bhatttacharya. August 24, 2017.

Sarod Albums

Alap – a solo Sarod by Ali Akbar Khan

Sarod Maestro by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

Strings For Peace: Premiere For Guitar & Sarod by Sharon Isbin and Amjad Ali Khan

Traditional Sarod music from India by Aditya Verma

Live at Washington Square Church 1981 by Vasant Rai and Vasant Rai (sarod), Anand Gopal Bandopadhyay

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has dedicated his life to musical exploration. His efforts included the creation of two online portals, and In addition, Angel is the co-founder of the Transglobal World Music Chart, a panel of world music DJs and writers that celebrates global sounds. Additionally, he ventured into the record business, producing world music studio albums and compilations. His works have appeared on Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Indígena Records and Music of the World.


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