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Sitar
 

There are different theories about the origin of the Sitar. Some feel that the Sitar, was probably imported from Central and Western Asia. I am mostly with the opinion that the Sitar has evolved from Saptatantri Veena (Seven stringed veena) which was called sattar and eventually became Sitar. It seems during the Mughal times, major modifications happened and today’s concert sitar has gone through the gradual changes during 17th and 18th century.

Today, there are two19 major types of Sitars available.

  1. Maihar gharana style which has two gourds which is often referred to as Pandit Ravishankar style,  
  2. Ustaad Vilayat Khan Saheb style which has just one gourd.

At the lower end is a gourd resonator attached to a neck, and a long fingerboard or dandi. The gourd is covered with a flat plank, in the middle of which is the typically wide bridge. The bridge is often made from bone, or deer antler, wood, and experiments are being done for bridge made up of man-made materials.  The dandi has a number of curved brass or steel frets which are tied fast enough to the fingerboard, not to be moved during playing but moveable, otherwise, by effort. This is an advantage the Sitar has, as the frets can be adjusted to suit the scale of the raag. e.g. the shudhh rishabh fret can be moved upwards in the place of komal rishabh in raags like shree, bhairavi, bairagi bhairav, puriya dhanashree etc. . There are five or four metal strings for playing the raag, in addition are two (chikari) which are struck for getting a reference to Sa and enhancing the beauty as well as to play the jhala. Chikaris are tuned in Shadaj. Besides these are about eleven to thirteen auxiliary ones which pass under the principal strings. They are called the tarab / taraf and tuned to the raag being played and vibrate sympathetically, following the principle of resonance emphasizing the notes of the raag. 

Renowned artists include Pt. Ravi Shankar, Us. Vilayat Khan, Budhhaditya Mukharjee, Smt Manjuben Mehta, Us. Shahid Parvez, Us. Shujaat Husain etc..