Not to be confused with Banjo
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A benju is a type of zither fitted with a keyboard, commonly used in the music of Balochistan and Sindh. The instrument is believed to be based on the Japanese taishogoto, which arrived in South Asia in the early 20th century.
Construction and play
It is about 1 meter long, 10 –12 cm wide and the soundbox is about 5 cm high, with six strings. Strings 1 and 2, 5 and 6 are used as bordun (drone) strings and tuned to the tonic and the fifth or fourth. In relative pitch C and G or F. The middle strings 3 and 4 are tuned unison to F or G, and they are fretted and can be shortened by pressing down the metal keys. The scale is chromatic from G to A, B flat or B. The right hand plays the strings by using a wooden or plastic plectron, the left hand is fingering the keys.
The benju is played mainly as a solo instrument accompanied by dholak and tamburag. Sometimes it is combined with sorud.