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SAROD A lute popular in North Indian classical music, the sarod (Persian, sarod, sarūd, "music" or "singing") is constructed from a single piece of wood, with a skin-covered resonating cavity in the base and a hollow metal-covered neck. The fingerboard is fretless so that performers stop strings with the nails or flesh of their fingers, allowing them to slide between notes after plucking with a triangular piece of coconut shell. A characteristic feature of the body is the symmetrical indents that delineate the division between the base and the neck.

Sarods have metal wires: four principal melody strings, two or more drone strings (the highest of which are the chikārī), and seven or more sympathetic strings (tarab). Like the sitar and the sārangī, the sympathetic strings extend from pegs in the side of the neck up through holes in the face of the neck and pass under the melody and drone strings. Both the sarod and the sārangī have membranes covering the base of the instrument, and both have holes in their broad, flat bridges through which their sympathetic strings pass. The result of this highly responsive surface is that when a performer plays the melody string, other strings also vibrate, especially if they are tuned to the note played by the melody string.

The sarod is probably a nineteenth-century modification of the central Asian rabāb, although similar instrumental traditions in Indian history (e.g., the dhrupad rabāb and the sursingār) undoubtedly contributed to the sarod's development. The sarod is larger than the Afghani rabāb, and the metal fingerboard seems to have been an innovation of Nahamzamatullah Khan (1816–1911) while he was a musician at the Calcutta household of the exiled ruler of Lucknow, Wajid Ali Shah (fl. 1860s). A larger version of the instrument (without the skin-covered base), the sursingār, had limited popularity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Two families have been responsible for the sarod's development and international popularity in the twentieth century. Allaudin Khan and his son, Ali Akbar Khan, have been adventurous innovators and tireless educators, while Amjad Ali Khan represents the Ghulam Ali Khan style of instrument and playing.

Gordon Thompson

See alsoMusic