However, today this industry faces several challenges related to the materials used and methods employed leading to a non-standardized product of unpredictable quality.

A project was conceived by Dr. Suvarnalata Rao in order to assess in an objective way the problems associated with this craft and to evolve a comprehensive strategy to support this traditional art through more predictable scientific methods. Funding for this project was provided by the Homi Bhabha Fellowships Council (1996-98).

Four major string instruments of North India, viz. sitar, tanpura, sarod and sarangi were selected.
The specific objectives of this endeavour were to:

  • Research and document the prevailing methods of instrument-making related to the above mentioned instruments.
  • Identify problem areas associated with various aspects of instrument-making
    • Conduct scientific analysis with a view to:
    • Redefine the subjective criteria applied by the makers in relation to the selection of raw materials
    • Develop simple techniques for easy and objective evaluation of the quality of the raw materials
    • Ensure pest-free condition of the raw materials
    • Identify alternate raw materials for the most important component of sitar and tanpura, viz. the bridge

The study brought to focus a number of areas, which need to be studied further in collaboration with the instrument makers. A full report on this project is available at the NCPA Library as well as with the Homi Bhabha Fellowships Council.