This website is a redesigned and expanded version of "Nicolas Magriel's Sarangi Site" which I created rather idiosyn-cratically in 1997 during the internet's early days. The site is dedicated to the sarangi and the many sarangi players whom I have had the good fortune to know. On this site you can find:

1) information about the sarangi, its history and social significance, its construction, maintenance and repair, and its technique.

A video-based sarangi tutor will eventually be included as well as videos of my own lessons with several masters of the instrument and videos of me teaching my own students in London.

2) a mammoth archive documenting over a hundred sarangi players whom I worked with when doing my PhD research in India in the nineties. This will include biographical and anecdotal information, but most importantly, videos and audio. As of March 25, 2015 there are 300 videos of 52 sarangi players on the site as well as some irare audio of great sarangiyas of the 20th century.

3) information about my own musical journey as well as about my research on South Asian music. My articles and PowerPoint presentations and links to my other publications will appear in due course.

 

The process of creating the archive

The editing, converting, uploading and embedding of video is a mammoth task. During the 90s I shot about 450 hours of Hi-8 video of over a hundred sarangi players in eighteen cities of North India. Regretfully I didn't make it to Pakistan at this time!

The individual tapes, already digitised and saved on hard disks, have to be edited into individual rag performances, conversations and home-life vignettes which then need to be individually exported from Final Cut Pro, converted to Vimeo codec, uploaded to Vimeo and finally embedded on the sarangi players' pages on this site. This is extremely time-consuming, unpaid work and there's only me to do it. But my hope is that all of this unique footage will eventually make its way onto sarangi.net.

The historical and anecdotal information that I am writing about individual players cvombines what I can remember off the top of my head with historical notes and information contained in interviews on the recordings themselves. In many cases my interviews with sarangi players were on DAT (digital audio) tapes—not on the videos, and I have several hundred hours of DAT recordings from the 1990s, only summarily logged—it's a quagmire. So, for the time being, you will find that the most extensive information is  to be found on the pages for those players who were also my own sarangi teachers.

 

The sarangi at home

People in India sometimes know the public face of sarangi—on the concert stage or how it is represented in Bollywood films. They know nothing about the life of sarangi players, about the gruelling practice sessions, about the intimate relationship sarangi players have with their instruments—repairing and maintaining them themselves. Because I am a sarangi player myself and have enormous sympathy with the plight of sarangi players, both musically and socially, when I was doing my fieldwork in the 1990s, I had unprecedented access to their homes. This video archive comes a long way towards lluminating the real world of sarangi players and sarangi life.

This website will also pay tribute to the world of tawayafs, the courtesans whom sarangi players traditionally accompanied, the singing and dancing women who in the words of my dear ustad Abdul Latif Khan "kept this music alive for the last four hundred years". These women have been excised from the history of Indian classical music as part of the crusade to make the music respectable and suitable for middle class consumption—a crusade which began to take shape in the latter half of the nineteenth century in tandem with aspirations for Indian independence and statehood.

Videos will be posted of mujhras, courtesan performances in Banaras, Mirzapur and Calcutta.

 

What is Sangi Rangi?

The name Sangi Rangi has a history. I keep the rosin for my bow in a short half section of bamboo about five centemeters wide and twelve long. One day it was broken, and I went looking for a new piece of bamboo in Banaras. The places that sold it would only sell entire poles three or four metres long. I was told to go to the burning ghats and there I would find what I needed easily. I went to Harish Chandra Ghat and sheepishly asked one of the workers there if he could give me some bamboo (used for stretchers to carry the bodies and lay them on their funeral pyres). He asked what I wanted it for—and another worker there answered for me "sangi rangi ke liye" (for a sarangi or something). Evidently I was not the first sarangi wala to come looking there.