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[LISTENING GUIDE] Introduction to Sarod

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performs on February 16 in Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium.

The sarod is an Indian stringed instrument used mainly in North Indian (Hindustani) classical music. The sarod’s ancestry links to the Afghan rabab, which is a wooden Central Asian lute that is covered with skin. Similar to the sitar, its more well-known stringed instrument cousin, the sarod is a smaller stringed instrument that is held in the musician’s lap. The conventional sarod is a lute-like instrument with 17 to 25 strings. Of these, four to five strings are used to play the melody, while one to two are drone strings, two are chikari strings, and nine to ten are sympathetic strings.

Claimed as “one of 20th century’s greatest masters of the Sarod” by Songlines World Music Magazine in 2003, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is a sixth-generation sarod player in his family, which originated the esteemed Gwalior-Bangash gharana (a gharana is a system of social organization linking musicians or dancers by lineage or apprenticeship). It is said that Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s ancestors had developed and shaped the instrument over several hundred years. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was six years old when he gave his first recital on the sarod.


Ustad Amjad Ali Kahn on Improvisation in Indian Music & the Sarod

Listening guide

This year’s UMS listening guide serves as an introduction to the sarod and contains mainly Hindustani classical music featuring the instrument. You can also find more information on Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and sarod music on

Raga Mian Ki Malhar with solo by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performs at Philharmonie Köln

Aman Ali And Ayaan Ali Khan perform at Modern School

Ayaan Ali Khan performs

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performs Raag Maru Bihag

Interested in learning more about classical Indian music? Explore Meeta’s guide to improvisation in classical Indian music.