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by Steve Landsberg

Although the Surbahar looks like an oversized sitar, it has a deeper, more powerful and sustaining sound. The gourd of the Surbahar is much larger and flatter than that of the sitar. It is shaped like a tortoise shell and was referred to in ancient texts as a kachipa (tortoise shell) veena. Although the left-hand technique is similar to the sitar, the right hand technique is the same as the veena. This technique on the Surbahar requires the use of three mizrabs (plectrums) whereas the veena only requires two plectrums. There is no other school of Surbahar in India to this day that knows this technique based upon the stroking patterns of the veena. All other schools play with one plectrum in a way similar to sitar. You may listen to examples of these stroking patterns on the CD "Night and Beyond: Ragas of Indian Music".