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The Sitar is a plucked string instrument that is played in Indian Classical Music.

Lets learn more about this wonderful musical instrument.

Sitar Construction

SitarThe Sitar is made out of teak wood or tun wood and gourds. The bridges are made out of deer horn or ebony. Nowadays, synthetic material is also used. There might also be a secondary resonator, called the tumbaa, near the top of the hollow neck. The Sitar is made up of 21, 22 or 23 strings and movable frets. Six or Seven strings (called the drone strings) run over the frets, while the rest (called the sympathetic strings) run below the frets. There are 2 bridges on a Sitar – the larger one for the drone strings, and the other smaller bridge for the sympathetic strings.

Method of Playing the Sitar

The Sitar is usually balanced between the players left foot and right knee. This way the hands can move freely without bearing the weight of the Sitar. The Sitar player plucks the string with a metallic pick or plectrum called a mizraab. The thumb is anchored on top of the fretboard just above the main gourd. Usually, the index and middle fingers are used to pluck the strings. A specialized technique called the meand has the players pull the main string down over the bottom portion of the Sitar’s curved frets in order to achive a 7 semitone range of microtinal notes.

Sitar Gharanas

  • Imdadkhani Gharana
  • Maihar Gharana
  • Senia Gharana

Sitar Terminology

  • Kunti: These are he pegs that hold the playing strings.
  • Tarab: The sympathetic strings.
  • Prada: The Frets.
  • Baj Tar: The main playing string.
  • Jure Tar: The second string that is tuned to the main note.
  • Dandi: The neck of the Sitar.
  • Tumbaa: The gourd or the sound box of the sitar.
  • Jawari / Goraj: The bridge.
  • Mizraab: The pick which is slipped over the index finger and used to pluck the strings.
  • Tal: A cycle of beats.
  • Laya: This is the Rhythm – it can be fast or slow.
  • Sum: This is the first beat of a cycle where the emphasis is placed.

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