On Wednesday, January 23, 2013, I drove from Florence to Vicenza to meet again with master Gut-string maker, Mimmo Peruffo. I had visited him in June as well when we had calculated and identified the strings for the Rabab made on the specifications of Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s 16th century Rabab. I had made pair of those, one of which was made for my student, Harbhajan Kaur of Millis, MA, while the other, which is yet to be varnished, will be in the collection of Anad Foundation and most probably played by Luigi Hari Tehel Singh. The Rabab I carried with me was the replica of the late 17th century Rabab of Ustad Basat Khan, which was in the collection of the legendary Sarod player, Radhika Mohan Moitra. This collection is being cared for by his youngest disciple, Somjit Dasgupta, who was also featured in the first ever publication (2005) of the Dhrupadi or Hindustani Rabab published by Anad Records Pvt. Ltd.
Years ago, when I had visited Mimmo Peruffo the first time, I had carried a lot of samples of the gut-strings made by him. I had tested quite a few on the Rabab but it was now time to establish what will be the standard suggested stringing. The instrument is sounding fabulous now – the sound is much larger than it was before and it is now tuned to D#.
I was accompanied by Banipreet Kaur from Australia who documented the visit on her camera while cameraman Jasbir Singh joined us form Vicenza where he had been visiting his family friends after the 34th January Gurbani Kirtan intensive retreat. Here are some glimpses of the visit taken by Banipreet Kaur and a few by yours truly.
Unpacking the Rababa.
Luigi Hari Tehel Singh’s handiwork..!
The calculations begin with Mimmo Peruffo
Mimmo checking the strings being currently used by Luigi.
Guts can produce art work and not mere music – Aristotle by Mimmo Peruffo..!
It is a fine line – choosing the right thickness for the right tautness.
“How the heck can you do that..?”
Mimmo loved the sound of the strings – it is interesting that our babies are married to each other; my handcrafted Rababa and his handmade gut-strings..!
Finding solutions for he did not have any stock of a particular kind of gut-string, which he discontinued two years ago – a pity..!
The right tension..?
Final instructions for the artisan from Morocco.
Metal wound gut-string being made.
It isn’t just art but a lot of science but isn’t art science and science art..?
I wasn’t glad with the round wound – Mimmo tries flattening with metal mesh – it sort of worked but I have to continue to look for the right solution.
One jitters when mounting the first string..!
The new strings needed wider passages.
Manual flattening of the sixth string being attempted.
Drilling the holes wider.
Mimmo’s chance to see me at work.
After the gut-string guide has been widened, the holes needed similar fate.
Widening the holes in concerned knobs.
Stringing the sixth…
It is not just the tuning of a new string but so much more.
Banipreet Kaur got a guided tour of the gut-string making facility.
Early stages of production – Mimmo has recipes since the 12th century onwards..!
Mimmo is awesome at his work – here he is analyzing the guts 🙂
So much more than mere cleaning and twisting of the guts…
Tying the knot.
The first twists…
Drilling the third gut-string passage.
Stringing the fourth gut…
Rababa has guts…
Time to pay the hefty bills..!
What an instrument – the Rudra Been or Hindustani Rabab..!
It is always a joy to fiddle with it some – to play it some…
When the Rabab drowned me in its nectar yet again..!