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Veena

 

Veena, as Saraswathi Veena is popularly known, is the instrument associated with Saraswathi, the Goddess of Learning and the Arts. This is a common instrument in South India. It is used in Carnatic music for exclusive performance and not as an accompaniment to a vocal performance.

It has a body made of wood, generally of  jack wood. The Veenas of very high quality  have the entire body carved from a single block of wood, while the ordinary Veenas are carved in three sections (resonator, neck and head) and joined together. There are 24 frets made of brass bars set into wax.  There is another resonator like bulb near the neck. This is not a functioning resonator,  is mainly used as a stand to facilitate the positioning of the instrument when being played. This upper resonator may be made of acoustically neutral materials such as paper mashie or other similar materials. Veena has seven strings,  four playing strings and three drone strings, and has no sympathetic strings as in Sitar. The main bridge is a flat bar made of brass. This bar has a very slight curve and it is this light curve that gives the Veena its characteristic sound. 

It is played with the performer sitting cross-legged on the floor, the small vestigial gourd resting against the left thigh and the main resonator resting on the floor. The right hand is used for plucking the strings while the left hand frets the instrument.

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