The Tanpura is an ancient four stringed instrument used only for accompaniment. It creates a drone effect when played.
Invention: Historians believe that it was invented by Tamburu Muni. It is the improved version of the Ektara, which has only one string.
Parts made of: The Tumba (hollow base) is made from gourd, the Dandi is made of wood and the Ghurach (bridge) is made of stag-horn.
Types of Tapura: There are three main types of Tanpura depending on their size and use. They are:
1. Large sized Tanpura: It is used by male vocalists and is generally tuned to Kali 1 or Kali 2
2. Medium sized Tanpura: It is used by female vocalists and is generally tuned to Kali 4 or Kali 5.
3. Small sized Tanpura: It is used to accompany instrumental music. It is also called Tanpuri.
Tuning: The four strings of Tanpura are generally tuned as follows:
The first string is tuned to Mandra saptak (lower octave) Pancham, the second and the third string to Madhya saptak (middle octave) Shadaj and the last string is adjusted to Mandra saptak (lower octave) Shadaj. However, the first string is sometimes tuned to Mandra saptak shudha Madhyam or shudha Nishad as needed for the raga. Khutis (pegs) are used for major tuning, Manakas for minor tuning and the thread on the bridge (Ghurach) is used for the fine tonal adjustments.
Tuning Pipe: This is a small handy instrument which has markings of the keyboard like C, C sharp, D D sharp etc. and is used as a reference to tune instruments like Tanpura, Sitar and Sarod by blowing through it.