Despite the resemblance and the similarities in their nature, there are slight differences that can help you distinguish between the two.
Tambura is a long necked instrument with different sizes for the lower part. On the other hand, Veena does have different varieties, but it comes in a standard shape and size. Tambura also has variety in the number of strings, as some are four-stringed instruments and a few have five. Moreover, Tamburas used by male and female performers are different in size. However, the story is entirely different in case of Veenas, as they come in the same size regardless of gender.
Tambura has different styles like the Tamburi, Miraj style and Tanjore style. Most Hindustani musicians choose Miraj style, whereas Tanjore style of Tambura is widely used in Carnatic music.
Meanwhile, Rudra, Saraswati and Raghunatha are famous styles of Veena. This string instrument also has religious significance, as the Goddess Saraswathi is always shown carrying a Veena. Similarly, the Mahabharata character Ravana is also said to be an expert of Veena. However, no such story is associated with Tamburas.
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The term Tambura is basically a combination of two Hindi words, Tan and Pura. “Tan” means the musical phrasem and “Pura” mean complete. A Tambura player aims to assist the singer in the beginning of a musical performance.
With a long history and a deep religious connection, this string instrument is one of the most popular and widely used musical instruments in India. It’s sweet and alluring sound makes it an integral part of jamming sessions for classical music.