In the world of Indian classical music, the placement of frets on the veena instrument was a purposeful and clever effort to make it more similar to vocal music and incorporate the intricate nuances of Carnatic music. The veena is renowned for being the only instrument capable of producing gamaka, a crucial aspect of music that is absent in vocal music, through the use of frets and swarasthanas. The veena has a total of 12 frets, consisting of seven swaras, two of which are prakriti swaras and the others are vikriti swaras. The frets allow for the playing of antara srutis, which are the notes between two swaras that are not visible, resulting in a unique melodic quality. Depending on the raga being played, the number of frets required may vary since not all swarasthanas are used in every raga.
The concept of melam, which has been present in Indian music for a long time, has undergone continuous refinement, leading to the creation of the sarvaraga mela, which has 24 frets. In Indian classical music, the 22 srutis must be played with absolute accuracy, and the veena must be properly tuned to be considered suitable for playing, which is known as sruti baddham. The evolution of the veena from ekara swara mela to sarvaraga mela necessitated the use of 24 frets.
Indian classical music has a rich history that can be traced back to ancient times, as evidenced by references in poems and plays. The development of the veena has played a significant role in this history and has contributed greatly to the richness of the music.