Taus – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Musical Instruments Glossary

What is a Taus?

The Taus is a traditional stringed musical instrument that originated in North India. It is a member of the bowed string instrument family and is commonly used in classical Indian music. The Taus has a unique design that sets it apart from other stringed instruments, with a peacock-shaped body and a long neck. It is played with a bow and produces a rich, resonant sound that is characteristic of Indian classical music.

History and Origin of the Taus

The Taus has its origins in the Sikh musical tradition and is closely associated with Sikh devotional music, known as Kirtan. It was created by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, in the 16th century. The Taus was designed to resemble the shape of a peacock, which is a sacred bird in Sikhism and symbolizes grace and beauty.

Over the centuries, the Taus has evolved and undergone modifications to improve its sound and playability. Today, it is a popular instrument in both Sikh and classical Indian music, played by musicians around the world.

Construction and Design of the Taus

The Taus is a visually striking instrument, with a body that is shaped like a peacock and a long neck that extends from the body. The body of the Taus is typically made from wood, while the neck and strings are made from metal. The strings are attached to tuning pegs at the top of the neck, which are used to adjust the pitch of the instrument.

The bow used to play the Taus is made from horsehair and is drawn across the strings to produce sound. The Taus is played while seated, with the body of the instrument resting on the musician’s lap.

Playing Techniques for the Taus

Playing the Taus requires a combination of bowing techniques and finger placement on the strings. The musician uses the bow to draw across the strings, creating a sustained and melodic sound. Different techniques, such as vibrato and glissando, can be used to add expression and emotion to the music.

The left hand is used to press down on the strings at different points along the neck, creating different pitches and tones. This allows the musician to play melodies and harmonies on the Taus, adding depth and complexity to the music.

Notable Players of the Taus

There have been many talented musicians who have mastered the art of playing the Taus. One of the most famous Taus players was Bhai Mardana, a close companion of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Bhai Mardana was known for his soulful and emotive playing, which captivated audiences and inspired generations of musicians.

Other notable Taus players include Ustad Ranjit Singh, who was a pioneer in the modernization of the Taus and helped popularize the instrument in classical music circles. His innovative playing style and technical prowess have made him a respected figure in the world of Indian classical music.

Variations of the Taus

There are several variations of the Taus that have been developed over the years to suit different musical styles and preferences. One popular variation is the Dilruba, which is a smaller and more portable version of the Taus. The Dilruba has a similar design to the Taus but is easier to transport and play.

Another variation is the Esraj, which is a larger instrument with a deeper and more resonant sound. The Esraj is often used in classical Indian music ensembles and is known for its rich and full-bodied tone.

Overall, the Taus is a versatile and expressive instrument that has a rich history and tradition. Its unique design and captivating sound make it a popular choice for musicians looking to explore the world of Indian classical music.