We have seen two types of string instruments in the past, which are being play by a rod or bow. Sitar is one of the most popular string instruments. Its worldwide fame has crossed all the borders of nations. Pt. Ravishankar is one of the great sitar players, whose unwavering efforts and Sitar’s melody are the reasons for this fame. The Sitar has such completeness that it can play every form of music.
Who invented Sitar?
It’s a misconception that Amir Khusro invented this instrument. Many books also spread this false impression. After a meticulous research, many experts have proven that Sitar is a very much Indian instrument. Just like Sitar, there were many ancient Indian instruments mentioned in our scriptures. There were various Veenas, of which the Sitar is a modern form. In his autobiography, Amir Khusro never mentioned Sitar. This proves that he has nothing to do with the Sitar invention. The scripture ‘Sangeet Saar’ mentions that a kind of the Tambura is the Sitar. In olden times, this instrument had three strings. In Farsi, ‘Seh’ means three. This became Sehtaar, which means that the instrument with three strings. This might have become the Sitar later. Or Veena with seven strings, i.e. Saptataar Veena might have become slang as Sitar. Many experts justify Indian origin of the instrument thus.
Construction Of Sitar
Since both the Sitar and the Tambura have pumpkin and a long shaft, there is always some misunderstanding between the two. Yet, if we observe them keenly, we can see that the Sitar has brass strips on its shaft. These strips are called as Parda. Also, the Sitar shaft has many small pegs. The Tambura has neither Parda nor these pegs. Thus, obviously separates the Sitar from the Tambura.
The hollow Sitar shaft is carved from wood. For more melodious sound, ‘Tun’ wood is used. In the olden days, Teak wood would be used. However, experience made it clear that ‘Tun’ wood is more useful for above mentioned melody and therefore currently the Sitars are carved only from ‘Tun’ wood. A special type of a pumpkin (called as Tumba) is attached to this wooden shaft. The part that joins the pumpkin and the shaft is called as the neck. The tumba has a small disc. Some Sitars also have a small pumpkin to their upper end.
Types Of SitarS
The Sitar has two types. One is a simple type and the other is of Tarfa variety. In Tarfa type of Sitar, smaller strings are attached on the shaft. When the Sitar player plays the main strings on the shaft, it has its echo on the smaller strings. This enhances the Sitar melody. Currently, the Sitar has no Tarfa. Chal Thaat and Achal Thaat are the other types of the Sitar. In Achal Thaat Sitar, 24 brass Pardas are fitted, which are 17 to 20 in Chal Thaat variety. These days, most of the Sitar players use Chal Thaat type Sitar, which has 19 pardas.