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Swarmandal

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SWARMANDAL

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SWARMANDAL

The swarmandal(Hindi: स्वरमण्डल) or Indian harp is an Indian zither that is today most commonly used as an accompanying instrument for vocal Hindustani Classical music (the classical music of North India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). The name combines swara (notes) and mandal (group), representing its ability to produce a large number of notes; it is also known popularly as Sur-mandal.

Swarmandals measure from twenty-four to thirty inches in length and twelve to fifteen inches in width. The singer may choose to employ any number of strings from 21 to 36. The strings are hooked in a nail lodged in the right edge of the swar-mandal and on the left are wound around rectangular pegs which can be tightened with a special key. Wooden pegs were used instead of metal ones in the medieval period. A sharp half-inch ridge on both sides of the swar-mandal stands a little apart from the nails on which the strings are tightened. This ridge functions as a bridge on both sides. The swar-mandal is similar to the autoharp or zither in many respects.

Swarmandal

It is also similar to an instrument from Iran, and has been used for many generations, dating back to the Mughal era. Some of the vocalists who have used this instrument extensively are Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1902–1968), Ustad Salamat Ali Khan (1934–2003) [1] and Pandit Jasraj (b 1930). It was used in The Beatles songs “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “Within You Without You,” the first is from the “Magical Mystery Tour” album and the latter two are from the Sgt Pepper’s album.

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