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close-up of the bridge and strings of a Dilruba, with criss-crossing shadows of the strings

Sikh Musical Instruments

Bowed and plucked string instruments are ideal for accompanying the singing voice. They support and enrich the sound, with a flexibility that can mirror the singer’s emotional expression.

The instruments we teach were all created or chosen by the Sikh Gurus for singing Kirtan. They were later almost eclipsed in Sikh music practice by the harmonium, introduced to India from the West under empire.

Unlike the string instruments, the harmonium cannot match the voice in suppleness of pitch and tone. Its fixed notes make it impossible to render the subtle qualities that give Indian music its vitality and emotional power. It has a deadening effect on raag (mood created in music), the core of Sikh music.

Raj Academy is reviving the original string instruments: Rabab, Saranda, Sarangi, Taus and Dilruba. We also favour the Jori for rhythm, invented in the court of the fifth Guru and later adapted to become the Tabla.

You can learn these instruments with us!