The tambura is a long-necked plucked string instrument, popular in the accompaniment of the sitar or sarod in Indian music. The body shape somewhat resembles a sitar, though a tambura has no frets. Its strings are always plucked at their full lengths. One or more tamburas are commonly used to accompany vocalists or other instrumentalists. The instrument is known by many names, including tanpura, tampuri, tanbura, and tamburi.
What makes the sound so distinctive? The instrument has four or five steel strings which are plucked with a plectrum. The strings are plucked one after another in regular patterns to create a harmonic resonance on the basic note or keynote. Because the body is typically carved from a single block of wood, the instrument can be quite heavy.
More Tambura Facts
A person who performs on this string instrument is called a tamburist.
Notable tamburists include Sri Shyamji Bhatnagar, Rumen Sirakov, Ranjani Sivakumar, and Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon.
Musician Playing Tambura Figurine
Hand Crafted for Perfection in India
Listen to the Tambura
Performed by Sri Shyamji Bhatnagar
If you’re feeling stressed out, let the sound of the tambura lead you to a state of calm. As a young man, Sri Shyamji Bhatnagar studied with the renowned vocalist, Pran Nath, who believed that the expression of music was a sacred art and a pathway to the Divine. From Pran Nath and other vocalists, Shyamji learned to play the tambura. In the seventies he had the honor of accompanying Sitar Maestro Ravi Shankar, including performances at the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. As founder of the Chakra Institute, Sri Shyamji leads and inspires a worldwide network of students and professionals.
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