The left hand performs the melody on the Veena using two categories of techniques - (a) fretwork, which involves the movement of the fingers between the frets, and (b) string deflection, which involves the pulling of the string with one or more fingers static on a single fret.
Techniques of Fretwork
The Rudra Veena in addition to the simple melodic execution by movement of the fingers between frets also uses two types of fretwork technique: Ghasita which is also called sunta and Khataka.
Ghasita: It accomplishes a phrase, usually flat-out and unidirectional. It executes it by dragging the left hand finger over the fret-board under the impact of a single stroke. This is accompanied by a light left-hand pressure over the string, so that the resultant glide transports an aural impression of a fretless instrument. The ghasita is used mostly for medium to long-span intervallic transitions.
Khataka: It is also self-explanatory. It is used for short-span intervallic transitions. It is usually used in descending melodic motion. Khataka is executed under a single stroke. The right-hand stroke is stimulated with the left-hand finger resting on one fret. With it the follow-through in jerky motion executes the intervallic transition along the frets, employing the residual power of the stroke, along with that of the jerky motion of the left-hand finger.
Techniques of Deflection
There are two types of principal deflection techniques (a) minda and (b) gamaka.
Minda: It is a simple execution of a phrase by pulling the string from a single fret and executing a phrase under the impact of a single stroke. Three-svara mindas were common in Veena music.
Gamaka: It creates a pulsating or quivering effect; a magnified vibrato by repeatedly playing a svara from a fret at a lower pitch. The gamaka is generally used for distances of upto two, and occasionally three svaras.