Sarod: Notes from the past

A lute-like stringed instrument, the sarod has now fallen silent in Pakistan.


A MUSICIAN FROM BALOHISTAN PLAYS HIS SAROD. PHOTO : HUMA CHOUDHARY

The sarod, a lute-like instrument widely used in folk music across Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, has nearly fallen silent in Pakistan. The stringed instrument has featured in several performances of the late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, who introduced subcontinental music in the US way back in 1955. Unfortunately, the strings of this Central Asian instrument no longer resonate, having disappeared almost entirely from the country’s music scene.

An improved version of the Afghan rabab, a sarod is made with a variety of woods, while the strings are traditionally of horsehair. The conventional sarod has five to seven strings to play a melody, one or two drone strings, two chikari or special drone strings and nine to eleven sympathetic strings. At present, only instruments such as dhol, duff and shehnai are played at weddings and other joyous occasions, while most other percussion instruments are gradually skipping the beat in Pakistan.

Huma Choudhary is a photojournalist working for

The Express Tribune in Islamabad.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 12th, 2015.

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