Feb 17, 2011


All of us at Carnatic Latté have taken a long break. We're back with a note on the most important and fundamental aspect of Carnatic Music - Sruti, Tambura. Just a few questions that come to my mind!

1. Are these two separable and existent without the other?
2. Why is a Tambura referred to as 'Manual' Tambura?
3. What exactly is a Sruti 'Box' or 'Electronic' Sruti that substitutes the Tambura?

Your thoughts.....



  1. Yeah, a very long break :)
    An electronic sruti box was probably introduced for the sake of convenience as it is quite easy to carry.. and as ppl started referring to it also as 'tambura', the real 'tambura' is called a manual one to probably differentiate it from the electronic one..?

  2. I'd like to define few terms before getting into the discussion. I am unaware if these definitions could be backed up by any substantial statements.

    Sruti: Technically, the scale of the octave to be followed. But morally as we all know, the mother of music. It existence is involuntary in music.

    Tambura: Most important instrument in the world of music. A general name given to the family of Metronome instruments in Classical Music but if seen in particular the name denotes one specific instrument that is used for maintaining pitch scale.

    Now, to the discussion...

    Sruti and Tambura: Existence of the two entities can be related in more than one ways but the easiest way is to say that Tambura helps one maintain Sruti. They both can exist without the other in many instances. When we consider Tambura as an instrument, Sruti can surely exist even without Tambura. Also a detuned Tambura can exist without Sruti. But their unison is what makes the Classical Music divine and heart warming.

    Manual Tambura: The prefix "manual" came in "automatically" with the advent of Semiconductors in Sangeetham. Its dominance over the traditional Tambura has made its counter part get the prefix "manual". If the importance for the traditional Tambura had been constant, we might be having different terms, "Tambura", the manual one and "Automatic Tambura", the electronic counter part.

    Electronic Box: The early Electronic Sruti Box like early manual Sruti box can generate Drone and not Tambura sound. The suffix "Box" is just came into existance since the console is enclosed in a box shaped container. If someone had been clever enough to manufacture the consoles in the form of spheres and circles and other possible geometric shapes, the suffix might've been different. Better, if someone had managed to get it into the shape of the Tambura like today, there would neither be "Box" nor "Electronic" prefixes/suffixes.

    Who would've thought we might end up discussing such a trivial, yet intriguing topic! It helps atleast for that! ;) Your thoughts?! Have I said too much?! :P


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