Rudra veena exponent Ustad Ali Zaki Hader passes away

Rudra veena exponent Ustad Ali Zaki Hader passes away

Rudra veena exponent Ustad Ali Zaki Hader passes away


Noted Ustad Ali Zaki Hader, a master of the Rudra veena, passed away in New Delhi early on Friday. He was 50.

Background and Musical Legacy: 

  • In New Delhi, Ustad Ali Zaki Hader, a renowned Rudra veena player, died at the age of 50.
  • He was the final exponent of the traditional Indian classical music style known as Khandarbani from the Jaipur Beenkar gharana of Dhrupad.
  • He was a disciple of Ustad Asad Ali Khan, a prominent figure in the world of Indian classical music.

What is Rudra Veena?

  • A sizable plucked string instrument called the Rudra veena is employed in Hindustani music, particularly in the style of music known as dhrupad.
  • It is one of the main veena kinds used in Indian classical music and is renowned for its deep bass resonance.

Historical Relevance

  • The Rudra veena has a lengthy history and can be observed in the designs of temples built before the Mughal era.
  • It first appears in court documents under the reign of Zain-ul-Abidin (1418–1470), and among Mughal court musicians it rose to prominence.
  • Princely states supported Rudra veena players as dhrupad practitioners before to India’s independence. However, after independence, this patronage structure was abolished, which caused Dhrupad and the Rudra veena to lose some of their appeal.
  • The Rudra veena has seen a rise in popularity recently, in part due to interest from practitioners outside of India.

Names and their origins:

  • The term “Rudra veena” refers to the instrument and is derived from Lord Shiva’s name “Rudra,” making it “the veena of Shiva.”
  • According to legend, Parvati or the goddess Saraswati was referenced in Shiva’s creation of the Rudra veena.
  • Another explanation claims that the asura Ravana created the Rudra veena as a result of his devotion to Lord Shiva.

Form and Design:

  • Either stick zithers or tube zithers are used to describe the Rudra veena.
  • It comprises two sizable tumba resonators made from calabash gourds and a bamboo or teak dandi (tube).
  • The instrument’s resonance is improved by the frequent addition of a peacock carving to the bottom end.
  • Precise tuning is made possible by the veena’s adjustable frets (parda), which are metal plates on curved wooden bases.
  • Seven or eight strings are commonly found on modern Rudra veenas, including a drone string, chikari strings (for rhythm), and melody strings.
  • According to the Hindustani classical tradition, the strings are tuned to a moveable root note and are made of steel or bronze.


  • The early 19th-century invention of the surbahar, which made it simpler for sitarists to play dhrupad-style ragas with slow tempos, contributed to the Rudra veena’s decrease in popularity.
  • The Rudra veena was altered by Zia Mohiuddin Dagar in the 20th century, resulting in a softer and deeper sound when played without a plectrum (mizrab).
  • By adding 22 shrutis to Bharat’s Shadja Gram and developing the shruti veena, Lalmani Misra significantly improved the instrument.


The Rudra veena, renowned for its distinctive tone and cultural significance, is a key instrument in the history of Indian classical music. Despite enduring periods of decline, it continues to be loved by artists and aficionados, and has even recently had a rebirth.