Kleines Lexikon indischer Instrumente
Der Text ist in gekürzter Form von Suneera Kasliwal, Classical Musical Instruments, Delhi 2001, entnommen


Another instrument that appeared in Hindustani music in the early years of the nineteenth century was the Sursringar, which was analogous to surbahar.

Sursringar is a modified version of the Seniya rabab. The instrument rabab had some limitations. Its gut strings and skin parchment upon the resonator make the slow passages of alapchari, impossible unlike the been. Moreover, due to the dampness in the monsoons, the sound of rabab used to deteriorate so much that the notes played on it could not even be discerned. In Sursringar, the skin parchment of the resonator had been replaced by a wooden sound board, the gut strings by those of steel and the wooden fingerboard was covered with a thin iron sheet. With these modifications Sursringar became a distinct improvement over the rabab with regard to the tonal quality and for the alapchari of dhrupad anga. These modifications, in the rabab were carried out by a descendant of Tansen's named Jaffar Khan.

Sursringar was well-suited for vilambit (slow) alap, and the techniques of both veena and rabab playing could be incorporated in it. The melodious effect of Sursringar was so overpowering that it could even outshine the veena in its vilambit alap. Thereafter, it became a tradition amongst the Rababiya gharana to play the Sursringar during the rainy season.

The instrument was well received in the world of music and became popular in a very short time in northern India.


Sursringar in our catalogue

Sursringar and surbahar, both these instruments were meant for playing the dhrupad anga alap in an elaborate manner. Sarod players used to play alap on the Sursringar before playing gat toda on sarod in the same manner as sitar players used to play on the surbahar before playing gat toda on the sitar. Therefore, it was customary to learn the Sursringar along with the sarod till the early years of the twentieth century. Gradually, when the sarod and sitar were modified and became well equipped with greater range of expressiveness, the popularity of the Sursringar and surbahar ebbed and these became obsolete in the latter half of the twentieth century.