Feedzilla: Classical Music News

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The sitar is a stringed instrument popularly used in Indian classical music.It generates its resonance from sympathetic strings, a long hollow neck and a gourd resonating chamber. 

It has a series of 20 curved frets which are movable thus allowing fine tuning and raised so that sympathetic strings also known as "taarif" or "tarafdaar" can run underneath them. 

The sitar has 21, 22, or 23 metal strings out of which 6 or 7 are playing strings running above the frets and 13 sympathetic resonating strings below. 3 or 4 of these are called the "chikaari" and simply provide a drone. The rest are used to play the melody. The first string called the "bajtaaris" is most used.

The sitar has two bridges. The large bridge called the "badaa goraa" is for the playing and drone strings and the small bridge called the "chota goraa" is for the sympathetic strings.

The sitars timbre or tone results from interaction of the strings with the sloping bridge. As a string reverberates its length changes a bit as its edge touches the bridge. This promotes the generation of overtones and thus gives the sitar its distinctive tone.

The neck and face plate are made from teak wood and the bridges are made from deer horn, ebony, or sometimes from camel bone. Synthetic material is now commonly used. The sitar may have a secondary resonator called the "tumbaa" near the top of its hollow neck.Ravi Shankar is a renowned master of the Indian sitar and it is because of him that the sitar became known to the west. In 1966 Beatles guitarist George Harrison studied with him and later played the sitar on the famous Beatles song "Norwegian Wood".

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