The history of the sitar is full of inspiration and intrigue. Is a stringed instrument with its origins in ancient India. The word "sitar" comes from the Persian language and it means three strings. It was traditionally used by professional musicians to accompany singing or dancing, but over time, this wonderful instrument became popular throughout the world for its unique sound and versatility.
It was first introduced to Western audiences by Pandit Ravi Shankar, who became famous for his collaboration with the Beatles- George Harrison. The sitar has become an iconic symbol of Indian culture all over the world, having influenced both Eastern and Western music. It's also one of the most popular instruments to learn how to play, with many people taking up lessons on it after hearing its beautiful sound. This blog post will explore what the sitar is, where it came from, who plays it, and more! History of Sitar
Image Source There is a common story attributing the invention of the sitar to Amir Khusrau, who was known as an icon for early development in Hindustani Sangeet. He lived around 1300 AD and was a great personality and an icon of Hindustani Sangeet (North Indian classical music).
The beautiful resonance of the sitar comes from its sympathetic strings and long hollow neck. The versatile instrument is made out of a gourd body, allowing it to be adapted in different genres including Indo-Western fusion music and Indian film soundtracks.
Different types of Sitar and how they're uses
Professional sitars are used by musicians to create various sounds. There are two major styles of sitar, the Gayaki style, and the Instrumental Style Sitar.
The Gayaki Style also known as Vilayat Khan’s style sitar is favored by the Etawah Gharana school of sitar playing. It has fewer sympathetic strings and no bass strings, producing a rhythmical accompaniment with 1 additional string called chickaree. It also features just one resonator gourd that makes it smaller than other types of Sitar instruments commonly used in Bollywood film music.
The Ravi Shankar style or Instrumental style sitar features two resonators that are attached to the neck of the instrument. They produce a deeper sound and can be decorated with carvings and inlays for added effect!
Modern-day composers who have used the instrument in their work
Contemporary sitar musicians include Pandit Ravi Shankar, who was both hailed as the "sitar maestro" by Western audiences and acknowledged as one of India's greatest masters. He played alongside The Beatles in their later years and won three Grammy Awards along with a host of other prestigious musical accolades.
Another master is Ustad Vilayat Khan, whose career spanned nearly seven decades during which he produced numerous exceptional recordings that have been recognized for his unparalleled virtuosity on the instrument worldwide.
Playing Technique/ How Sitar is Played?
A sitar is played using a plectrum. The plectrum, known as the mihrab, is made of thick steel or brass wire and worn on the tip of an index finger. A sound is produced by striking the main string with this metal pick.
It is usually balanced between the musician’s foot and knee. Because the instrument is typically quite large, this allows the player’s hands to move freely without having to support the weight of the instrument.
Famous songs that feature ‘Sitar’ as the main instrument
The most popular songs to feature the sitar are "Norwegian Wood," George Harrison's "Within You Without You," and John Lennon's "Across the Universe." These songs have helped promote the beauty of this instrument, which often sounds like a cross between a guitar and a violin.
A list of other famous songs featuring the sitar as the main instrument includes Kishore Kumar's "Chalte Chalte" from 1973, David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from 1969, and George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” from 1984.
Learn Sitar Online With Art Gharana
If you want to learn sitar online or take up lessons with a professional teacher then head over to our website for more information on booking your free session today! At Art Gharana, our in-house professionals are highly trained in their art and they seek to deliver quality education in their student’s musical journey.
Our classes are conducted on an online platform so this makes it easier for you to take up our classes from literally anywhere around the world.
If you wish to test the waters first and experience our teaching methods before you commit yourself to full-time classes, we are more than happy to provide you with a demo class absolutely free of charge. So head on over to book your session and get started on your musical journey!
We look forward to having you as a part of our family.