// Sagar Veena

1 Sagar Veena is a completely new addition to the existing variety of stringed Instruments for playing North Indian Classical Music (NICM), case and a new invention  in musical instruments altogether. The name is divided into two parts; “Sagar” being a Sanskrit word for ocean, order while “Veena” a generic term used to classify the family of stringed instruments, unhealthy or more commonly known in Western musical nomenclature as chordophones.

The current version of the Sagar Veena, having passed through seven prototypes, is a product of dynamic research and experimentation process carried out by Raza since 1970. During this period he has been receiving the cooperation of his daughter, Noor Zehra, in practically testing the potential of the instrument as a serious musician. She is currently the sole Sagar Veena player, and has been rendering performances on the Instrument on various occasions within and outside of Pakistan. In the making of the Sagar Veena and developing its craft, major contributions have come from the professional Instrument Maker Mohammed Riaz.

4 Visually, the Sagar Veena belongs to the two-gourd family of Veenainstruments, but in essence it is a radical departure from all existing stringed instruments of NICM, in all respects, starting from the concept behind it to the minutest details of both its design and construction. In terms of sound and acoustics, Sagar Veena has an unparalleled range of timbres and pitch registers for the musician to explore and to create music. It is also a highly resonating instrument, which provides the overall quality of sound with richness and clarity.

The objective behind the making of the Sagar Veena is to provide the artist with a rich and extensive palette of musical sounds and timbres evoking different kinds and degrees of pleasure, through which developed human sensitivities for pleasure can be expressed. The purpose is to have musical sounds which enable the contemporary artist and the listener to focus upon and dynamically interact with, and develop their own deeper internal processes of sensitivities, feelings and thoughts—their new dimensions, nuances and different shades. Also, the motivation is that the artist has sounds which enable him/her to go beyond the existing framework in which the Indian Classical Music is being done, and create new kind of music which connects with the sensitivities of the contemporary human being and raises their quality.

32 The underlying concept of Sagar Veena is that the artist should be able to think and create music in terms of dynamic-layered timbres and resonances, their subtle variations and the meanings they convey, which is where the main potential of music lies. These characteristics of musical sound are the main specialization of Sagar Veena, which in fact make the above objective possible. In the Sagar Veena the main players are not the tangible, measurable aspects of sound such as the pitch or the volume, but more intangible characteristics such as timbres, resonances and harmonics, and a wide range of them. The concept and the image of musical sound having such abilities is basically a product of a serious inquiry into the fundamentals of music and musical sound in Indian Classical Music, and the effects they evoke within the artist and the listener. In addition, the understanding of the kind of timbres and resonances required has come from a perception of the qualities and characteristics of sound as conveyed in emotional and intellectually rich human vocal music. That is why the sound qualities of Sagar Veena resemble that of a human voice.

The Sagar Veena has always been a dynamic endeavor, with structural modifications and conceptual changes being applied to it throughout its evolution. It introduces a completely revolutionary method for creating musical instruments of the Sub-continent; a method which incorporates new materials, lighter structural components, and a separation between its vibrating part and the resonating components, which enables the latter to resonate fully and freely without any tension imposed by the strings attached. This has never been attempted before in any stringed instrument.

Sagar Veena is an unfretted stringed instrument. Its vibrating part consists of nine playing strings and two drone chords, a wooden bridge with silver (never used before in any string instrument) transmitters orjowari, , and the sounding board. The nine playing strings are a combination of the three asthans in Indian Music, the Mandrasthan(bass), Madhasthan (mid range), and Tarasthan (highs); three strings representing each of the asthans. The resonating portion consists of two fabricated tumbas made from pieces of gourd joined together to form the desired shape and size. The geometry of the tumbas resembles that of a geodesic dome-like structure which helps them to resonate more musically compared to natural tumbas. These tumbas are connected by a hollow wooden tube in the middle.

2The dimensions and sizes of the different components in terms of their length, breadth, curvature, shape, thickness and the materials used have been finalized through a tedious process of experimentation and testing over a period of thirty eight years. During this period, especially since 1995, new tools and techniques have been developed to produce the desired inventions and innovations. So that beginning from a rather simple structure, Sagar Veena has now acquired a detailed and complex design, capable of producing the sound characteristics mentioned above.

In appearance the technique of playing the Sagar Veena resembles that of the Vichitra Veena or Mohan Veena ; that is, sliding a crystal ball or some other object across the strings at one end to produce and control different combinations and variations of musical sounds, and simultaneously plucking the strings on the other end with a plectrum to get the sound. However in actual terms it involves a much more subtle control in sliding the crystal ball over the strings, giving pressures and tensions through it, and also the plectrum wherever required, along with many other factors. The technique for playing Sagar Veena has developed along with the requirements emerging from a continuous upgrading of the instrument. Although, it has now reached a stable position, it is still being developed further and chiseled to reap the full potential of the instrument.