Sitar

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The sitar (Hindi: सितार, Bengali: সেতার, Urdu: ستار, Persian: سی‌تار ) is a plucked stringed instrument predominantly used in Hindustani classical music, where it has been ubiquitous since the Middle Ages. It derives its resonance from sympathetic strings, a long hollow neck and a gourd resonating chamber.

Used throughout the Indian subcontinent, particularly in Northern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the sitar became known in the western world through the work of Pandit Ravi Shankar beginning in the late 1950s, particularly after George Harrison of The Beatles took lessons from Shankar and Shambhu Das[1] and played sitar in songs including "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)". Shortly after, The Rolling Stones used a sitar in "Paint It Black" and a brief fad began for using the instrument in pop songs.

Contents

Etymology and history

In his Bharatiya Sangeet Vadya Dr. Lalmani Misra traces its development from the tritantri veena through the nibaddh and anibaddh tamburas (so named after Rishi Tumbru), also called tanbur and later the jantra. Construction of the similar tanpura was described by Tansen. During the time of Moghul rule Persian lutes were played at court and may have provided a basis of the sitar. However, there is no physical evidence for the sitar until the time of the collapse of the Mughal Empire.

The Sitar is also said to have been developed in the thirteenth century AD by "Amir Khusro" (Ab'ul Hasan Yamīn al-Dīn Khusrow Dehlavi) from a member of the veena family of Indian musical instruments called the tritantri veena and to have been named by him after the Persian setar.[2] The sitar is, like the setar, a member of the lute family while the north Indian veena is a zither, but it shares the veena's resonating gourds and sympathetic strings. There are doubts about Sitar being invented by Amir Khusro as he does not mention the sitar (no evidence to support he invented Sitar) but he does mention the tanbur and, by the mid 18th century, Indian tanburs were referred to as sitars.[3]

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