WHAT IS A RAGMAKAMTAR?

The Ragmakamtar is a unique and new instrument invented and constructed by Edward Powell between the years 2006 to present. To this date there currently exists 14 original prototype versions of the Ragmakamtar, each version manifesting a particular stage in the development of this new invention. The original intention was to create a double-neck fretless guitar with sympathetic strings - one neck to sound like an Arabian lute (oud), and one neck to sound like an Indian lute (sarod).

Early Ragmakamtar versions were designed with guitar-type bodies but it was soon understood that in order to achieve a more "oriental" tone the body shape would have to resemble that of an oriental instrument. Over the years the design eventually evolved into a lute-shaped instrument with two short necks, one for oud strings, and the other for sarod strings. Because of great differences in string types and playing techniques each neck produces a entirely different tone; the oud neck giving a very deep, rich, and warm Middle-eastern oud sound, and the sarod neck giving a clear, pristine, and brilliant Indian sarod sound.

The name "Ragmakamtar" is derived from the words: "raga", "makam", and "tar". Raga is the name for an Indian musical mode. Makam is the name for an Oriental mode. Tar means string. Indian and Oriental musics are modal musics which means that melodies are created using a sophisticated and systematic modal melodic grammar. There are hundreds of these melodic modes in use today. In India these modes are called "ragas", and in the Middle-east they are called "makams". Indian and Oriental musics originally came from the same origins so therefore ragas and makams originally came from the same source, but over time developed their own unique identities. The Ragmakamtar is an instrument on which it is possible to simultaneously play, on one instrument, both ragas and makams and hence rediscover and re-merge the common ancestry of all Oriental musics..