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About the Swar-Mandal

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

Swar-Mandal is believed to have evolved out of 13th century 21-stringed musical instrument 'Matha-kokila'. Similarly it is a multi-stringed musical instrument, with a flat surfaced sound board, mainly made of wood. Depending on the size, swar-mandal may have 21 to 36 strings. It is hollow inside like a guitar but from the top resembles a harp because of its similar look of strings sitting on both bridges on either side. That's why refer to it as an Indian Harp. It also resembles the Arabic string instrument 'Qanun'. It is classified as box zither, plucked instrument.

Swar-Mandal name is derived from two Sanskrit words, swara and mandal. Swara literally means a pleasing sound or musical note, and mandal means a circular group of people or things, however, in this case it refers to the group of swaras. As opposed to an individual solo performing instrument. It is mainly used as accompaniment for the classical vocals in North Indian Music. It is an important accompanying instrument because of its ability to produce the whole scales of ragas properly tuned to write micro-tones (Shrutis) used in them.

Its tuning depends depends on the raga to be performed. It creates an aesthetically beautiful environment, which not only fills the space around the performer with resonated multiple swara but also assists in one's presentation of vocals.

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