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History of Tanpura

Taanpura (or tanpura ) is an Indian instrument is a stringed Indian musical instrument. Carnatic music, it is known as tambura. It is used as a drone instrument in Indian classical music. Taanpura is not used to create melody or Rhythm.

In Hindustani Music, the notes (sur) are not fixed and are relative to each other. This means that you can identify any note as Sa and then the next higher note automatically becomes Re. Therefore, taanpura is to used to create the tones for that base sur called adharaswara. Indian tanpura is supposed to have come in its modern shape around 500 years ago when it started featuring in paintings of that era.

As per one theory, the name tanpura is derived from sanskrit word taana, referring to a musical phrase and pura means full. Another theory goes that it is a derivation of Persian word tanbur. Tanbur are long necked musical instruments originating in Mesopotamia . They are prevalent in folk music of Central Asia and Middle East. Tanpura is essentially an Indian adaptation of Tanbura as per this theory.

Taanpura comes in many sizes from 3 to 5 feet. Tanpura comes mainly in three variations. 

● Male Taanpura is larger in size 

● Female Taanpura is smaller in size 

● Smaller accompaniment taanpura smaller than the female tanpura used to accompany a sarod or sita

Miraj in Maharashtra is the center of Taanpura manufacturing and is known for manufacturing the best-sounding Tanpura for Hindustani classical music. Whereas Tambura, used in Carnatic music, from Thanjavur is considered as a gold class. Taanpura is made from a special variety of dried gourd grown in Pandharpur area of Maharashtra. Tanpura is usually made of teak or tun (red cedar). Tun is ideal as it is lighter and has better resonance, but one can find high-quality tanpura made from teak as well. 

A taanpura has five main parts :

1. Tumba or resonator

 2. Tabli or sound board 

3. Dandi or neck 

4. Gullu or neck joint 

5. Patta or fingerboard

Taanpura usually has four strings that are joined together on top with four knobs. There are some which have five strings as well. But the ones with four strings are more prevalent.


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