The sarangi takes prominent place as an accompaniment to the main artist in a vocal music concert in the north. It is suitable both for solo playing and for accompaniment. It is easy to produce all types of gamakas on this instrument. In fact it is said to be closest to the human voice. The sarangi is about two feet long. It is made by hollowing out a single block of wood and covering it with parchment. A bridge is placed on the belly in the middle. The sides of the sarangi are pinched to facilitate bowing. Four tuning pegs are fixed to the hollow head, one on each side. The instrument usually has three main strings of gut of varying thickness.
Rarely, a fourth string made of brass is used for drone. When played, the sarangi with its head uppermost is placed on the lap of the performer. The head rests against the left shoulder. It is played with a horsehair bow which is held in the right hand. The fingers of the left hand are used for stopping the strings. While this is being done, the fingers do not press the strings down on the finger-board as in the case of the violin but press against the strings at the sides. Modern sarangis generally have thirty-five to forty sympathetic strings running under the main strings. These are fastened to small pegs on the right side of the finger-board and also on the top of the head. The sympathetic strings are tuned according to the scale of the raga played and are made of brass and steel. Experts are of the opinion that the sarangi as we know it today first, made its appearance as late as the 17th century. It is never seems to have been used at the Mughal court. There is no mention of it in the Ain-j-Akbari. It has all along been a folk instrument used by the common people for their simple music. Other members of the sarangi family are the dotara, the chartar, the dhad sarangi of Punjab, and the chikara of Uttar Pradesh. These folk instruments are simple in construction.
They are often suspended in front of the body and played with bows to which bells (ghungurus) are sometimes attached to give a rhythmical jingling sound with the music. Various names like saranga, sarangi and saranga-veena are mentioned in ancient works like Sangita Ratnakara, Basavapurana, Panditaradhyacharitra of Palkuriki Somanatha (12th century), Sangita Darpana and others. There is reason to believe that the sarangi must have remained a folk instrument for centuries before it was considered suitable to accompany the new styles of music that came into vogue in the 17th century. The sarangj seems to have been used in the south also at some time or other but it was subsequently superseded by the Violin. The facilities it offers for playing the various gamaks and graces characteristic of Karnatak music have made the violin completely a southern instrument.