FINGERING THE SARANGI

by David Courtney working tools


fingering the Sarangi

Part 1 - Sarangi: An Overview
Part 2 - Parts of Sarangi
Part 3 - Tuning the Sarangi
Part 4 - Fingering the Sarangi - This Page

Fingering is a very important topic when learning the sarangi.  However before we get into the fingering of the instrument, we need to have a basic idea as to where the notes lay.  (For the rest of this page we will be presuming that the standard tuning is employed for our sarangi.) Refer to the following illustration:

Positions of the notes

The illustration above shows us where the notes are.  In this illustration we see the three octaves of the instrument.  Notice that the first tetrachord of the lower octave (i.e., Sa through Tivra Ma) is played with the heavy third string.  The middle sized second string plays the upper portion of the lower octave.  And finally, the thin first string plays the remaining two octaves.  Once we have familiarised ourselves with the positions, we next turn our attention to the actual fingering.

The first thing to remember is that the strings are not stopped against the fingerboard, but instead are simply stopped by sliding the string against the nail, cuticle, or area under the first knuckle.  The actual position seems to be a question of personal taste.  I for one, like to slide the string against the nail, I find it does the least damage to your fingers.  Most people use the area around the cuticle, and some, as in the picture below, use the area above the cuticle.

Srangi Fingers

The first three fingers of the left hand will be used to stop the string.  Sometimes the string is stopped with the first finger (index finger).  This is illustrated with the picture below:

Stop string with first finger

Sometimes the string is stopped with the second finger (middle finger).  This is illustrated with the picture below:

Stop string with second finger

Sometimes it is stopped with the third finger (ring finger).  This is illustrated with the picture below:

Stop string with third finger

Now the obvious question arrises as when to use which finger.  India is big county and one may find considerable differences of opinion.  I do not like to pontificate on these matters, so I will discuss several of the approaches here.

The table below is probably the most common approach to fingering.

STANDARD FINGERING
NOTE STRING  FINGER
Sa (Lower Octave) 3rd Open
Komal Re (Lower Octave) 3rd 1st
Shuddha Re (Lower Octave) 3rd 1st
Komal Ga (Lower Octave) 3rd 1st
Shuddha Ga (Lower Octave) 3rd 1st
Shuddha Ma (Lower Octave) 3rd 2nd
Tivra Ma (Lower Octave) 3rd 2nd
Pa (Lower Octave) 2nd Open
Komal Dha (Lower Octave) 2nd 1st
Shuddha Dha (Lower Octave) 2nd 1st
Komal Ni (Lower Octave) 2nd 2nd
Shuddha Ni (Lower Octave) 2nd 2nd
Sa (Middle Octave) 1st Open
Komal Re (Middle Octave) 1st 1st
Shuddha Re (Middle Octave) 1st 1st
Komal Ga (Middle Octave) 1st 1st
Shuddha Ga (Middle Octave) 1st 1st
Shuddha Ma (Middle Octave) 1st 2nd
Tivra Ma (Middle Octave) 1st 2nd
Pa (Middle Octave) 1st 2nd
Komal Dha (Middle Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Dha (Middle Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Ni (Middle Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Ni (Middle Octave) 1st 3rd
Sa (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Re (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Re (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Ga (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Ga (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Ma (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Tivra Ma (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Pa (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Dha (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Dha (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Ni (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Ni (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Sa (2 Octaves Higher) 1st 3rd

There is a variation to this fingering that was used by the Ram Narayan.  It differs from our standard fingering as to when one shifts from the first finger (index) to the second finger (middle finger).  By Ram Narayan's own admission it is a non-standard approach, and under any other circumstance we would dismiss this as being a somewhat idiosyncratic technique.  However Ram Naryan is considered unequalled in the 20th century for his skill and influence over the entire field of sarangi; therefore some attention to his technique is in order.

RAM NARAYAN FINGERING
NOTE STRING  FINGER
Sa (Lower Octave) 3rd Open
Komal Re (Lower Octave) 3rd 1st
Shuddha Re (Lower Octave) 3rd 1st
Komal Ga (Lower Octave) 3rd 2nd
Shuddha Ga (Lower Octave) 3rd 2nd
Shuddha Ma (Lower Octave) 3rd 2nd
Tivra Ma (Lower Octave) 3rd 2nd
Pa (Lower Octave) 2nd Open
Komal Dha (Lower Octave) 2nd 1st
Shuddha Dha (Lower Octave) 2nd 1st
Komal Ni (Lower Octave) 2nd 2nd
Shuddha Ni (Lower Octave) 2nd 2nd
Sa (Middle Octave) 1st Open
Komal Re (Middle Octave) 1st 1st
Shuddha Re (Middle Octave) 1st 1st
Komal Ga (Middle Octave) 1st 2nd
Shuddha Ga (Middle Octave) 1st 2nd
Shuddha Ma (Middle Octave) 1st 2nd
Tivra Ma (Middle Octave) 1st 2nd
Pa (Middle Octave) 1st 2nd
Komal Dha (Middle Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Dha (Middle Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Ni (Middle Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Ni (Middle Octave) 1st 3rd
Sa (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Re (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Re (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Ga (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Ga (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Ma (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Tivra Ma (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Pa (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Dha (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Dha (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Komal Ni (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Shuddha Ni (Upper Octave) 1st 3rd
Sa (2 Octaves Higher) 1st 3rd

Now we need to discuss how strictly any particular fingering is adhered to.  If we were simply to play straight (i.e. "cut" notes) as one finds in Western music, then it would be possible to play all of the notes as specified above.  However, it becomes readily apparent that with either of these above approaches, many types of ornamentation, in particular many slides (i.e., meend), are simply impossible.  Therefore considerable latitude is extended to the fingerings.

One area where this latitude produces interesting technical results is in the playing of the second and third strings.  Although the fingering charts described above showed the third string going only as high as Tivra Ma (augmented 4th), and the second string going only as high as Shuddha Ni (Natural 7th), in practice these strings are played considerably higher up into the scale.  For instance virtually any ornamentation of the lower octave Pa, must played on the third string, and virtually any ornamentation of our middle Sa, must be played from our second string.  This usable range of the second and third string is extended even further when we wish to play other meends.  (e.g. lower Ni to Re as one would find in Yaman Kalyan which can only be played as a meed from the 2nd string.)  There is no theoretical limit placed upon how high we can go on the third or second strings, but as a practical matter, one seldom goes more than a step or two beyond the ranges specified in our earlier fingering charts.

 

 

 

Part 1 - Sarangi: An Overview
Part 2 - Parts of Sarangi
Part 3 - Tuning the Sarangi
Part 4 - Fingering the Sarangi - This Page

 

Selected Video

Madhukauns Sarangi Recital - Pt 1

 

Madhukauns Sarangi Recital - Pt 2

 

Madhukauns Sarangi Recital - Pt 3

 

Madhukauns Sarangi Recital - Pt 4

 

Madhukauns Sarangi Recital - Pt 5

 

Pt Anant Kunte - Sarangi

 

kamal sabri world music video album Sarangi

 

Sarangi Vs Sarangi

 

Gouri banerjee playing raag Madhubanti in Sarangi

 

Sarangi Concert Allarakha Kalawant, Shabir Khan Tabla

 

Sarangi Samrat Ustad Sabri Khan Saheb

 

Raag Megh - Sarangi Zohaib Hassan

 

Sarangi Samrat Ustad Sabri Khan Saheb

 

Sarangi in Delhi - Nasir Khan

 

Sarangi Virasat (legacy) Concert by the Sabri Family

 

Sarangi in Delhi - Nasir Khan

 

Saurang Festival New Delhi 2004

 

Ram Narayan sarangi master at Shira Arts Festival

 

Khartaal, Sarangi and Dhoalk (Rhythm of Rajasthan) (This is a good example of the folk sarangi)

 

Kamal Sabri interview on Indian Television prt-1

 

Kamal Sabri Interview on Indian Television prt-2

 

Kamal Sabri Interview Indian Television prt-3

 

Ustad Lakha Khan (Sindhi Sarangi)

 

sarangi (Hey folks, check out the stringing and tuning of his instrument)

 

Saurang Festival New Delhi 2004

 

Part 1 - Sarangi: An Overview
Part 2 - Parts of Sarangi
Part 3 - Tuning the Sarangi
Part 4 - Fingering the Sarangi - This Page

 

© 1998 - 2017 David and Chandrakantha Courtney

For comments, corrections, and suggestions, kindly contact David Courtney at david@chandrakantha.com