by David Courtney working tools


The Gottuvadhyam also known as the chitravina, is an instrument played in Southern India.  It is usually used as a solo instrument in Carnatic sangeet.

Gottuvadhyam has an interesting construction.  It resembles the saraswati vina in its general form.  It has six main playing strings which pass over the very top of the instrument.  It has three thallam (drone) strings at the side, and a series of sympathetic strings which pass under the main strings.  The approach to tuning is in some ways similar to the sitar, in other ways it is similar to the saraswati vina, but in many ways it is unique.  It is played with a slide in a manner somewhat like a Hawaiian guitar.

The gottuvadyam does not appear to be very old, probably around 100 years old.  It was popularised in the south by Sakharam Rao of Tiruvidaimarudur.  It was later taken up and further popularised by Narayan Iyengar who was a palace musician of the old state of Mysore.



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