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Tanpuras of Miraj, Maharashtra

Musical Instruments, Sound Objects

Tanpuras of Miraj, Maharashtra

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Sitarmaker Street in Miraj is a living example of a wonder called Tanpura. A dried pumpkin, a stick with some strings attached is all needed to bring music to life in this small town of Maharashtra. The pumpkins are specially brought from Pandharpur and only those varieties are used which are inedible. The pumpkins are also used a floats while crossing river. The wood that is used should also be chosen with utmost care. The shape, thickness and seasoning all need to account for while making a good tanpura.

Ustad Abdul Karim Khan saheb, the founder of Kirana gharana of Khayal finds close association with discovery of Tanpura. Abdul Karim Khan has a special association with the place. As much as Miraj is associated with the tanpura, it is also associated with Ustad. It was after listening to his record, playing in a shop, that Bhimsen Joshi decided at the age of 11 to run away from home to learn music. Music can become as obsessive as that.

The town comes to life each year during the three-day music festival coinciding with the Urs of Hazrat Pir Khwaja Shamana Mirasaheb, a great sufi saint of the Chishti tradition. It was a tradition started by Ustad Abdul Karim, his descendants along with the instruments makers continue this tradition in his honour.

Khan sahebs contribution in bringing Tanpura into popular music culture cannot be missed. Kirana Gharana’s mainstay was in subtle nuances of tones which is brought into focus by the Tanpura itself. He would himself sit the makers to get the right tonal quality and resonance needed for his music.

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