The dilruba is one of the most popular stringed instruments of the bowed variety in the north. The instrument is a clever combination of the sitar and the sarangi. The finger-board with the frets very much resembles the sitar. The belly of the instrument is covered with skin like a sarangi; and like the sarangi it is played with a bow. The stem of the dilruba contains eigh¬teen or nineteen eliptical frets which are movable. They are tied to the stem by means of thin pieces of gut so that the frets can be moved according to the scale of the raga which is being played, as in the case of the sitar. The bridge is placed on the skin-covered body, over which all the main and sympathetic strings pass.
Of the four main strings, the last is the principal playing string. The first two are of brass and the last two of steel. There are about twenty-two sympathetic strings or tarabs running underneath the frets and fastened to a series of pegs on the side. Like similar sympathetic strings in other instruments, the tarabs are tuned to reproduce the scale of the melody which is being played. The bowing is done with the right hand while the fingers of the left hand are used to play over the strings.
The frets on the dilruba are meant only to guide the player in locating the correct position of the notes. The fingers do not pull the strings over the frets laterally as in the sitar, but more longitudinally alongside the strings. All the musical nuances which the sarangi captures can be produced on this instrument with-out difficulty. The dilruba can be an effective accompaniment to vocal music as well as an instrument for solo perfor¬mances. The dilruba is held vertically, the lower portion on the lap of the performer or in front of him and the top resting against the left shoulder. Simple melodies and the subtlest musical nuances can be produced on this instrument with equal naturalness.
It is a popular instrument in the north espe¬cially in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. It has also secured for itself a place in the modern Indian orchestra. The dilruba came into vogue a few centuries after the introduction of the fretted sitar.