What is a tanpura?

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A short educational film, taken from the archives of the Asian Music Circuit's Museum of Asian Music.

The tanpura (also known as tambura, tanbura, tampura or tambora) is a long-necked plucked lute (a stringed instrument found in different forms and in many places). The body shape of the tambura somewhat resembles that of the sitar, but it has no frets -- only the open strings are played to accompany other musicians. It has four or five (rarely six) wire strings, which are plucked one after another in a regular pattern to create a harmonic resonance on the basic note (bourdon or drone function).