Surshringar is an instrument of the stringed variety rarely found in India today.
One opinion holds that Surshringar was first made by Syad Kalb Ali Khan Bahadur,the late Nawab of Rampur. But the more popular view seems to be that it was introduced by the famous brothers Ustad Pyar Khan, Basat Khan & Jaffar Khan who flourished in the early part of 19thCentury. Great musician themselves, they were also directly descended from celebrated Mian Tansen. Ustad Mohammed Ali Khan,son of Ustad Basat Khan lived in Rampur and later in Lucknow, was a maestro of Surshringar and the last descendant of Mian Tansen.
Surshringar is a combination of three stringed instruments such as Mahati Veena, Rabab & Kachhapi Veena. The small gourd and the neck to which the strings are attached, are features of the Mahati Veena. The finger-board with the metal plate is very much like the type of Rabab which Mian Tansen used to play. And the main body is similar to the Kachhapi Veena, popularly called as Kachhapi Sitar with its flat gourd resembling the back of a tortoise. There are six main strings which are placed in a flat bridge and two additional strings for special sound effects as well as rhythmic accompaniment.
To play it, the instrument is placed in front of the performer held in a slanting position so that the upper portion rests on the left shoulder. The strings are plucked with plectrum known as Jawa held by the right hand and the notes are played by the finger-tips of left hand. The polished metal plate on the finger-board facilitates the sliding of the finger s thus making it easier to produce the Gamakas and other graces of Indian music. Surshringar is restricted to serious type of music, mainly Dhrupad & Dhamar styles. After playing the Alaap of a Raga in slow, medium and fast tempo, a performer usually ends his recital with different rhythmic patterns followed by varieties of Jhala along with the accompaniment of Pakhawaj.
But today, as the format of North Indian Classical Music has changed a lot, Pt.Joydeep Ghosh realizes that the Bass Tabla/Dagga would go better along with the present trend of music exploited in today’s Surshringar performance. Keeping the improvisations in mind, he has done some modifications of its structure, shape, tuning & playable materials without twisting its originality.
Surshringar is a royal instrument by both its sound & look which was lastly played in the King’s courts, but difficult to perform and hence has very less exponents.
Mohanveena was conceived by Sangeetacharya late Pt.Radhika Mohan Moitra in the beginning of 1948.
In spite of being a great Sarod maestro, he was quite famous as a Surshringar artist also during 1930-40. As he was initiated his training in Sarod from late Ustad Mohammad Ameer Khan of Shahajahanpur Gharana and as well as in Sitar from late Ustad Inayat Khan of Itawah Gharana, he achieved unbelievable mastery over both the instruments. Sometimes inbetween 1943-44 he had performed Surshringar along with the famous Veenkar(Veen artist) late Ustad Sadiq Ali Khan in a Jugalbandi(duet concert) in Lucknow. After this concert, he was constantly involved in a process of designing an instrument in which the playable materials of Sitar & Sarod both could be appropriately exploited and the tonal quality of Rudraveen could be equally maintained in addition. Ultimately in 1948, such an unique instrument was born and after various experimentation it was being performed throughout the country by him accordingly.
In the year 1949, after one of his excellent performance an awareness of this instrument was firmly established. Finally in 1950, Thakur Jaidev Singh the renowned musicologist as well as the chief producer of All India Radio,Delhi had taken the privilege to arrange an archival recording for A.I.R followed by an interview of the great maestro and also named the instrument as Mohanveena. Subsequently, he was invited to perform this instrument in numbers of music festivals in India. Some of his rare performances of A.I.R archive are still available in compact discs as precious document. So, Mohanveena exists along with its own excellence till the date and also had been inherited by some of able torchbearers including Pt.Joydeep Ghosh.
By the grace of his Gurus(mentor/guide) Acharya Pt.Radhika Mohan Moitra & Acharya Pt.Bimalendu Mukherjee, he was attracted by the typical style of playing such rich instruments like Mohanveena & Surshringar and now is propagating both simultaneously along with Sarod.