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The Changing Ecology of the Kolkata Tanpura

Bhattacharyya, Budhaditya

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The tanpura, a long-necked, unfretted, stringed lute, is arguably one of the most important instruments used by Hindustani classical vocalists. This ethnographic study draws from the lived experiences of luthiers and farmers specialising in crafting tanpuras. Auto-ethnographic reflections as a vocalist of this tradition also feed into this piece. Studying the effects of various phenomena, including evolving agricultural and climatic conditions in gourd fields and increasing scarcity of raw materials, the article underlines how it affects the sonic and visual profile of the instrument, thereby gradually transforming Hindustani classical sound at a very fundamental level.


Bhattacharyya, B. (2022). The Changing Ecology of the Kolkata Tanpura. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 45(6), 1095-1111.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Oct 2, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Nov 9, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 22, 2023
Journal South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies
Print ISSN 0085-6401
Electronic ISSN 1479-0270
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 6
Pages 1095-1111
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Copyright Statement
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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