Name: Sitar.

Type: Plucked Lute > Chordophone.

Region: India > South Asia.

Specimen: My instrument is a student sitar.

Manufacture: Bina Instruments, India.

Dimensions: Scale Length 89 cm.

Acquisition Date:

Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch.



Description: The sitar is a long-necked plucked lute. It is one of the most predominant instruments played through out the Indian Sub-continent and including its close neighbours Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The name sitar comes from two Persian words the first being (Seh) meaning three and (Tar) meaning strings. The closest relatives to the sitar are the Central Asian tanbur and dutar.

Origins: The current consensus for the origins of the sitar, could be traced back to a lute called the tanburah (c. 1590) during the Delhi sultanate (1206-1526) according to Abul Fazl's account. The current recognizable form of the sitar as we know it today has its origins in the 1700's during the Moghul Empire. Since then Empire the sitar evolved as a soloists instrument. There is a modern view, based on a theory that the name of the musical instrument “trikantrika vina” a three stringed chordophone which was altered by the Muslims during the middle ages. Although during this time lutes were nonexistent.

Sitar Tunings
Type Musician Tunings
Kharaj Pancham Pt. Ravi Shankar C" C' G C C F
Ghandar Pancham Pt. Vilayat Khan G" G' C X F

Notes: Sitars are primarily tuned in C, C# or D sometimes they maybe tuned to a lower B depending on the scale length of the instrument. For the Vilayat Khan sitar tuning X denotes Sa (C) 2nd string is removed.

Exposure: The exposure of the sitar in the west primarily in North America and Europe, was in large part to Pt. Ravi Shankar and George Harrison although soon after Pandit Vilayat Khan also contributed to the popularity of the sitar world wide. The Beatles featured the instrument in their compositions including Norwegian wood / The bird has flown, With in you with out you, Tomorrow never knows and Love you to. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones also played the sitar in the song Paint it Black. From the 1960's to the 1970's the sitar was often included in rock recordings predominantly in psychedelic and progressive rock.

Bibliography: New Grove Dictionary of Music by Stanley Sadie Pages 392-394 (Sitar). Abu'l Fazl: Ain-I-akhbari (c1590) translation by H. Blochmann in, The Imperial Musicians (Calcutta, 1873, 2/1927) 680ff translation H. Jarrett, rev J. Sarkar in Sangit, Bibliotheica indica, cclxx (Calcutta, 1948). 260ff. Pratap Sing, compiler; sangit-sar (Jaipur c1800) ed. Poona Gayan Samaj (Poona, 1910-12) [in Hindi]. S. M. Tagore Hindu Music from Various Authors (Calcutta 1875, 2 1882/R1965).





















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Chordophones