History And Tuning Of Sitar Musical Instrument In English

Sitar Musical Instrument
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History And Tuning Of Sitar Musical Instrument

  • Sitar is a stringed instrument originating from the Indian subcontinent, used in Hindustani classical music. The instrument was invented in medieval India, flourished in the 18th century and came into its present form in 19th century India.
  • Khusrau Khan, an 18th-century figure in the Mughal Empire, has been identified by modern scholars as the inventor of the sitar.
  • According to most historians, he developed the sitar from the setar, an Iranian instrument of Abbasid or Safavid origin. Another view, supported by a minority of scholars, is that Khusro Khan developed it from the Veena.
  • Widely used throughout the Indian subcontinent, the sitar became popular in the wider world through the works of Ravi Shankar in the late 1950s and early 1960s.


  • The word sitar is derived from the Persian word sahtar, meaning “three-stringed.”
  • History –
  • The book “The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians” suggests a possible origin of the sitar as it evolved from one or more of the instruments of the Tanbar family, long-necked veenas which they argue date back to the period of Mughal rule. Introduced and popularized during
  • It is also theorized in Muslim tradition that the sitar was invented, or developed during the 13th century by the famous Sufi inventor, poet and pioneer of Khayal, Tarana and Qawwali, Amir Khusro (c. 1253–1325) Was.
  • However, the tradition of Amir Khusrau is considered discredited by some scholars. Whatever instrument he may have played, no records exist of the name “sitar” from this period.
  • Another, more minor hypothesis is that the sitar is derived from locally developed Indian instruments such as the veena before the arrival of Islam. Indian temple sculptures from the 9th and 10th centuries are known for musical instruments such as the sitar.
  • Towards the end of the Mughal Empire (1707–1858), the instrument began to take its modern shape. The neck widened. The bowl, which had been made of glued wooden laths, was now made of gourd, with metal bushings and a bone nut at the neck.
  • By about 1725, the name sitar was used in the Hammir-Raso by Jodhraj, a Rajasthani writer. By this time the instrument had 5 strings. The beginnings of modern 7-string tuning were also present.

Physical Description

  • A sitar may have 18, 19, 20 or 21 strings; 6 or 7 of these run over curved, raised vents and are played by strings; The rest are sympathetic strings, running down the fret and resonating in sympathy with the played strings.
  • These chords are generally used to set the mood of a melody at the beginning of a performance. The frets, known as frets or thaats, are movable, allowing fine tuning.
  • The played strings run to tuning pegs on or near the head of the instrument, while the sympathetic strings, which have various lengths, run through small holes in the fretboard, connecting with small tuning pegs that are at the bottom of the instrument’s neck. Let’s go

Construction Styles

  • There are two popular modern styles of the sitar: the fully ornamented “instrumental style” (sometimes called the “Ravi Shankar style”) and the “vocalist” style (sometimes called the “Vilayat Khan” style). .
  • The instrument-style sitar is often made of seasoned toon wood, but is sometimes made of Burma teak. It is often fitted with a second resonator, a small tumba (a wooden replica of a gourd or pumpkin), on the neck.
  • This style is usually fully decorated with carvings of flowers or grapes and celluloid inlays with colorful (often brown or red) and black floral or arabesque patterns. It usually consists of 13 sympathetic wires.
  • It is said that the best Burma teak sitars are made from teak that has been seasoned for generations. Therefore, instrument makers seek out the old Burma teak that was used in old colonial-style villas as whole trunk columns for their specialized sitar constructions.

Sitar Tuning

  • Tuning depends on the sitar player’s school or style, tradition and the personal preference of each performer. The main playing string is almost always tuned a perfect fourth above the tonic, with the second string tuned to the tonic.
  • In the Indian solfege system the tonic is called saj, shadaj, or abbreviated sa, or kharaj, which is a dialectal form of sajj, not as a vad, and the perfect fifth to which one or more drone strings are tuned . It is called Pancham, not dialogue.
  • The player must re-tune for each raga. The strings are tuned by tuning pegs, and the main playing strings can be fine-tuned by sliding a threaded bead on each string just below the bridge.
  • In one or more common tunings (used by Ravi Shankar, among others, called the “Kharaj Pancham” sitar) the playable strings are plucked like this:-
  • Chikari strings: Sa (high), Sa (middle), and Pa.
  • Kharaj (bass) strings: sa (low) and pa (low).
  • Jod and Baj Tar, Sa and Ma.
  • There is a great deal of stylistic variation within these tunings, and like most Indian stringed instruments, there is no default tuning. Mostly, tuning varies according to the schools of teaching (gharana) and the piece being played.

Playing –

  • The instrument is balanced between the player’s left leg and right knee. The arms move freely without bearing any weight of the instrument.
  • The player plucks the string using a metal pick or plectrum called a mizrab. The thumb rests on the top of the fretboard just above the main gourd.
  • Generally, only the index and middle fingers are used, although some players occasionally use the third.
  • A special technique called “meend” involves strumming the main chord string just below the curved frets of the sitar, with which the sitarist can achieve a seven-semitone range of microtonal notes.
  • It was developed by Vilayat Khan as a technique that mimicked the melismas of the vocal style, a technique known as Gayaki Aang.
  • Skilled players bring charisma through the use of special techniques like Kan, Krintan, Murki, Zamzama etc. They also use the special Mizrab bol-s, as in Misrabani

Sitar Gharana

  • Imdadkhani Gharana
  • Senia Gharana
  • Indore Gharana (Beenkar Gharana)
  • Maihar Gharana
  • Jaipur Gharana
  • Bishnupur Gharana
  • Lucknow-Shahjahanpur Gharana
  • Dharwad Gharana
  • Senia Rampur Gharana

Sitar Player

Who is considered the inventor of the sitar?

Amir Khusrau is credited with the invention of the sitar.

What is the meaning of the word sitar?

The word sitar is derived from the Persian word sahtar, meaning “three-stringed.”

How many strings can be there in a sitar?

A sitar can have 18, 19, 20 or 21 strings.

Who is called Mizrab?

The player plucks the string using a metal pick or plectrum called a mizrab.

Name the famous sitar gharanas?

The names of famous sitar gharanas are Imdadkhani Gharana, Senia Gharana, Indore Gharana (Beenkar Gharana), Maihar Gharana, Jaipur Gharana, Bishnupur Gharana, Lucknow-Shahjahanpur Gharana, Dharwad Gharana, Senia Rampur Gharana.

Name the famous sitar players?

The names of famous sitar players are – Ravi Shankar, Anushka Shankar, Annapurna Devi, Nikhil Banerjee ,Vilayat Khan , Shahid Parvez Khan , Imrat Khan , Anjan Chattopadhyay |

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