Tuesday, October 27, 2009



The sitar 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.


The instrument should be balanced between the player's left foot and right knee. The hands should move freely without having to carry any of the instrument's weight. The player plucks the string using a metallic pick or plectrum called a mezrab. The thumb should stay anchored on the top of the fretboard just above the main gourd. Generally only the index and middle fingers are used for fingering although a few players occasionally use the third. A specialized technique called "meend" involves pulling the main melody string down over the bottom portion of the sitar's curved frets, with which the sitarist can achieve a 7 semitone range of microtonal notes.


The surbahar is a larger sitar with a broader fret-board and thicker strings. It has a deeper tonal quality as it is tuned two to five whole steps below the normal sitar and the agile finger work characteristic of the sitar is not possible on this. A recent variant is the ranjan veena which uses a slide.