History and origin of the Jawari 4

The earliest real evidence of the flat bridge in India can be traced back to the Shivaite cave of Badami (late 6th century). Sculptures show that the flat bridge was a main feature on various instruments, such as the alapini, ekatantri and kinnari vina, also from the 6th century onwards. The first mention of jawari dates back to the beginning of the 12th century. King Nanyadeva wrote a treaty on music called 'Saraswati Hridayalankar'. Also the mid 13th century in the "Sangitaratnakara" gives detailed descriptions of the bridge which was then known as “patrika" the name the South Indians still use today.

Both in Africa and in India the “buzz” is the preferred sound and plays a very important role in sound production. In Africa we see or rather hear the “buzz” created in a rather rough, primitive and simple way, with long gut strings, fairly loosely tuned and small wooden wedges or leather strips placed between the bridge and the string to produce the strong vibrating sound. Not unlike the threads used (jiva) on the Indian tanpura.

However, the sound production from the bridges in India differs enormously from both the present day African and the ancient Mesopotamian lyres. In India it is the fine adjustment of reasonably taut steel or bronze strings that "buzz", but in such a controlled manner that when the thread is applied the all important overtones become more audible and stronger. It is this concept of bridge construction that creates the quality of a tone, not its musical perspective, but more in a sense of its acoustic quality enabling the ultimate use of the overtones. It is this quality of sound that the Indians prefer, as it is a source of inspiration to music and its musicians. This is indeed another approach to that of the Lyre. The tuning of the strings, bridge, jawari and the overtones that are produced, are of upmost importance. Too much buzz would for some Indian musicians be a disturbance, as the strong vibrations of the string may overpower the subtle sounds of the overtones.

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