DilrubaDescription of the Dilruba
The Dilruba, Israj, and Sarangi are fiddle-like chordophones that are played with a bow. The Dilruba, Israj, and Sarangi are structurally very similar. They are the same in the following ways: carved from wood, relatively short and squat in shape, goat skin soundboards, main and sympathetic strings, the bow is drawn across the main strings and the sympathetic strings resonate, and the bridges are moveable to adjust the tone. They differ in: the shape of their resonators, the number of strings, and the manner in which the sympathetic strings attach.
Origin of the Dilruba
It is believed that the Dilruba was developed in India to accommodate the female player. Sarangi and Sitar players can develop large calluses on their fingers, and the Sitar is sometimes too large for a child or small women. So it is believed that a few hundred years ago the Dilruba was developed from the better of the two instruments. The Dilruba is smaller and more easily held and played with a bow so as not to disfigure a womans hands.
Today the Dilruba is a favorite accompaniment of the vocalist. Easier to carry and play by women, the Dilrubas higher tone compliments the womens higher pitched voices. Vocalists also like that the bow creates longer sustains than the Sitar.
Mid-East carries a rosewood Dilruba that is inlaid front and back. It has 4 main and 20 sympathetic strings. The main strings pass over the bridge, while the sympathetic strings pass through individual holes in the bridge. Like the Sitar almost all of the playing is performed upon only one or two strings. The Dilrubas neck seems long compared to the short resonator and hourglass shaped soundboard. The bridge and frets can be moved to alter the tone based on the raga being played. This bridge rests on a skin soundboard that resonates as the strings are played. It is 43" long. Case included in shipping. All stringed instruments are shipped de-tuned. This reduces the stress on the instrument and decreases the likelihood of shipping damage. Never ship your instrument in tune.
How to tune the Dilruba
A new Dilruba will take a few days to tune successfully. The first few days the new skin soundboard will make tuning difficult. As the soundboard settles in the tuning will be easier. You may find that the instrument requires minor tuning every time you pick it up. Remember this instrument is crafted from organic materials. The wood and skin reacts to temperature and humidity changes, which affect the tuning.
As you become more proficient you will tune your Dilruba differently for each Raga played. Until then you can tune the Dilruba in the key of C (the Indian key of Sa- see FAQS). If you are not blessed with perfect pitch you will need a tuned piano or better still an electronic tuner. The main strings are tuned to C, F, G 2 octaves below Mid. C, and G below Mid. C (Indian: Ma, Sa, Pa, Pa). The sympathetic strings can be tuned to the major scale. Some of the notes will be repeated on adjacent strings. This is necessary to keep the strings from being tuned too high. The higher the pitch the more tension on the string and the more likely that it will break.
Sympathetic strings can be tuned as follows:
How to play the Dilruba
If you are able, sit crossed legged. Rest the neck of the instrument over your left shoulder. The body of the Dilruba rests on the floor or on a Tabla cushion. In this position it is easy to play with the bow like a small bass fiddle. Angle the soundboard slightly toward you. You draw the bow across the main strings just above the bridge. Your left hand notes the strings between the frets. When playing the Sitar the strings are pulled laterally and produce a sliding sound. This is not the case when playing the Dilruba. The frets of the Dilruba are guides for correct finger placement and not for pulling the strings. The index, middle and sometimes the ring fingers are used to note the strings. You press the strings between the frets. Do not press hard, that will dampen the sound. Your fingers should glide over the strings. You can then slide your finger up or down, from note to note, to achieve the portamento, or long-and-flowing-vibrations, characteristic of Indian music. To facilitate this sliding, you may want to keep a small amount of baby oil for your right finger tips. Do not get this oil on the other parts of the instrument, especially the soundboard and bow hair.
The Bow has a wooden handle and may likely have horse hair. To hold the bow, seat the end of the bow into or against your palm so that it can be pushed. Your thumb rests over the end, the ring finger is hooked through the center and the index and middle finger over the top. This is a different grip than holding the violin bow. If you find the Dilruba bow too heavy at first, or if your bow breaks, you can substitute a cello bow which is lighter and wider.
Remember to rosin up the bow. Keep the hair of the bow free from oils, so do not touch it with your fingers.
For a great visual tutor and a number of exercises to practice Mid-East offers an introduction to Dilruba Video.
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