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Charlie Southgate and his Sarod in Barga Vecchia

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A stunning concert in Barga Vecchia this afternoon as Charlie Southgate slowed down the daily life of Barga and got people to sit down and listen to their own breathing, their own thoughts and some classic Indian music played on his Sarod.

Next to the Sitar, the Sarod is the most well-known and most important Indian stringed instrument of classical northern Indian music.



Construction and character of the Sarod
With high-quality instruments the resonance body, the neck and the peg box are made from one single piece of wood. The type of wood that is used is mostly tun or teak wood. Simpler and more inexpensive Sarods are composed of two parts. Here, the peg box is put on separately. The wooden body, that is covered with goatskin, has a thin horn bridge across which the strings are running. The fingerboard on the neck consists of a polished, shiny steel plate and does not have any frets. The Sarod has a second soundbox made of brass which is fixed to the top end of the neck. It has both, playing strings and drone strings. The playing strings are fingered or plucked, the drone strings are vibrating at the same time, but are not struck themselves, and produce an echo-like effect.

Playing technique of the Sarod
The playing strings of the Sarod are struck or plucked with a pick made of coconut shell while the instrument is placed on the lap, sitting cross-legged. This special kind of pick and the striking technique that is used, make a wide range of differentiated rhythmic striking variations possible. The strings are not pressed onto the fingerboard with the fingertips like in violin playing for example, but with the tip of the fingernail. In this way the typical metallic echoing sound of the Sarod is produced. This is intensified by a continuous gliding of the fingernail along the string on the fretless fingerboard. Thus the ornaments and micro-intervals are produced that are so typical and essential in Indian music.




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