Traditionally, Indian instruments are totally hand-made. Like the art of music, the art of 'making' instruments has been passed on from one generation to the other. However, today this industry faces several challenges related to the materials used and methods employed leading to non-standardized product of unpredictable quality.

A project was conceived 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 in details 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.

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