Hear the First Song Recorded on the Yazh, a 2,000 Year-Old Indian Instrument

In historical Hindu mythology, the Yali seems as a chimera, half lion, half horse, half elephant. It was carved into stone pillars to protect temples, and its kind adorned an instrument referred to as the yazh, whose sound “as soon as crammed the halls and temples of southern India,” Livia Gershon writes at Smithsonian. “Over time, nevertheless, the Tamil musical custom all however vanished,” together with the royalty who crammed these historical halls.

“A distant cousin of the harp,” notes Atlas Obscura, the yazh was stated to make “the sweetest sound,” nevertheless it’s a sound nobody has heard till now. By learning historical literary references, luthier Tharun Sekar was capable of recreate the instrument, taking “some liberties with the design,” Gershon writes, like “changing jackfruit with crimson cedar,” a lighter wooden, and changing the standard Yali with a peacock.




References to the yazh return round 2,000 years in Tamil literature from the time referred to as the Sangam, the earliest interval of South Indian historical past, sometimes dated between 600 BCE to 300 CE., when the yazh had its heyday. Carved from a single block of wooden and strung with both 7 or 14 strings, every fashionable yazh takes Sekar about six months to finish. He’s been constructing them in his Chennai workshop since 2019.

Sekar tells Atlas Obscura how he selected the yazh as the primary instrument for his firm Uru, which makes a speciality of redesigning folks devices: “As we speak, whereas there are replicas of the yazh accessible in museums, they’re neither unique nor playable. I wasn’t additionally capable of finding any recorded sound samples or movies of the instrument. So, this created a curiosity in me.”

Now, there may be each a track and video, “the world’s first,” Sekar tells DT Next, within the type of “Azhagi,” above. A collaboration between Sekar, rapper Syan Saheer, and singer Sivasubramanian, who wrote the track about “a woman with superpowers from the Sangam period,” Sekar says. “We thought the context was very a lot relatable to yazh.” The one instrument within the track is the yazh, and Sekar hopes the video will start to popularize the instrument. He’s already began receiving orders from musicians from all over the world.

Study extra how Sekar creates a yazh in his workshop, and the way he realized to recreate sounds nobody might report 2,000 years in the past, in his interview at Atlas Obscura.

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Josh Jones is a author and musician based mostly in Durham, NC. Observe him at @jdmagness

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