The swarmandal is a harp like instrument that is most commonly used as an accompaniment to Hindustani vocal music. The name originates frim ‘swara’ (note) and mandal (group), an indicator of the large number of notes it can produce.
Depending on the artiste, a swarmandal can have between 21 to 36 strings. These are hooked onto a wooden box that is around 30 inches long and fourteen inches in width. Swarmandals are strung according to a musician’s preference. There is no standard tuning, and it is common to repeat notes of a particular raga.
The swarmandal is used by some gharanas or schools of Hindustani music. It is tuned to the individual raga being sung and strummed by hand. It is played almost exclusively by the lead vocalist.