The representation of the Sarod type of veena has been found among the 1st Century carvings of the Champa Temples (Madhya Pradesh) India. Also the archeological remains of Rupar (2000 B.C.) and sculptural representations of Gandhara (6th Century B.C.) show instruments which resemble the Sarod, having 3 or 4 strings. However, apart from these early depictions, it is almost impossible to trace the precise evolution of the sarod over the course of many centuries. Still, it is generally agreed to that the sarod – in its present form – is at least 100 years old. During this time, many important changes in the instruments features were made by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s father, the late Padmabibhushan Dr. Allauddin Khan. The body of a sarod is of teak or mahogany, the belly is covered with goat skin and the unfretted finger board is metal. The latter feature allows the playing of meend (glissando) and the subtle gamak (shakes) which typify sarod playing. The instrument has twenty five metal strings, ten of which are played with a plectrum made from a coconut shell. Four strings carry the melody, three are tuned to the tonic and serve to accentuate the rhythm, and three others are tuned to the dominant notes of the chosen raga. The remaining fifteen are sympathetic strings, which resonate when the corresponding notes on the main strings are played. A metal gourd increases the resonance as well as to help keep the proper balance of the instrument.
The tanpura is the essential drone instrument in all forms of classical North Indian Music. It has between four and six strings and is found in a wide range of sizes. The function of the tanpura is to sound the tonic repeatedly throughout a performance so that both the performer and the listener are always aware of the basic notes of the raga.
The Tabla is the most popular drum of North India, and is in fact a set of two drums. The right hand drum (tabla) is tuned to the tonic of the solo instrumentalist or vocalist; the left hand (banya) acts as the bass and is capable of many tones, which can be varied by the pressure from the base of the left palm. Between the straps and the drum bodies are pieces of wood by which the tension can be altered with the aid of a tuning hammer. It is possible to produce a great variety of sounds from these drums, and every possible sound is represented in a vocabulary known as bols, by which expert tabla players are able to recite any composition that can be played.