like all cultural manifestations – is the expression and
mirror image of certain attitude of consciousness. Music
can be said to be the sweet and soothing sounds that vibrate
and create an aesthetic feeling and beauty that overcome
the feelings and beauties of nature. The word "Music",
is derived from the French word "Muse".
that evolved in Indian soil and imbibed the spirit and
atmosphere of spiritual India is known as Indian music.
Indian music is a living art. It is the dynamic power
of symbolizing the divine intution of man in sweet and
sound. Indian music has it’s own cultural heritage and
is considered to be the oldest form of music existing
in the world today. The meaning of the word music in
India is defined in the text as "Sangita"
The word "Sangita" has been defined as a combination
of three components, viz, vocal music ("Gita"),
instrumental music ("Vadya") and dance ("Nritya").
The reference to the word "Sangita" is also
found in the old texts including "Ramayana"
(300 B.C.), "Mahabharata" (200 B.C.), "Puranas",
and the "Natyashastra" of Bharata.
of the main and important aspects of music is instrumental
music. The basic requirement of instrumental music or
dance are "Swara" (melody) and "Laya"(rhythm),
but in vocal music, another component is required in
addition to "Swara" and "Laya",
means knowledge. It is the oldest text of the world.
It is not known who wrote it but is proved beyond doubt
that Veda has given the greatest knowledge to the mankind
and it is in "Veda", that we come across the
mention of "Sama –Veda", one of the branches
of "Veda", which is related to music.
is considered as one of the most popular stringed instruments
of India today. Earlier, it was the Veena, which was
popular amongst the musicians and lovers of music, but
today Sitar has overshadowed all other string instruments
of India because of its mystic sound and popularity.
As we all believe, Veena is the mother of all string
instruments, it is also said that Sitar is basically
derived from the Veena. Any stringed instrument in our
ancient text is referred to as Veena. As Sitar had 3
strings earlier, it was known as "Tri-Tantri Veena"
(means three stringed instrument) and there is also
a mention of another kind of stringed instrument popularly
known as "Kachhapi Veena". This Veena had
also many similarities with the "Tri-Tantri Veena".
We also come across the name of "Yantra",
which was at one time (according to one of the opinions)
known as the "Tri-Tantri Veena". It is interesting
to note that many great players of Sitar in the early
20th century played "Kacchua Sitar",
which is a developed version of "Kachhapi Veena".
have been many theories regarding the origin of Sitar,
out of which the most popular belief dominating so far
in popular accounts gives credit to the Central Asian
Indian poet and musician Amir Khusrao (who lived in
the court of Delhi Sultan, Allaudddin Khilji) for the
invention of Sitar in the 13th century, The
name of Amir Khusrao is associated with our history
of music and there is no doubt that he was a great composer,
poet, musician and creator of many styles of music.
When he came to India, he was fascinated with many Indian
instruments. According to one opinion, Sitar has been
derived from the persian word "Seh-tar". "Seh"
means three in Persian and "Tar" means strings
i.e. an instrument having 3 strings. According to the
scholars having this opinion, Amir Khusrao modified
the earlier Veena having 4 strings by taking out one
string and inventing the "Seh-tar", which
later came to be known as the Sitar. Another opinion
was that Amir Khusrao, modified the facts on the old
"Parivadini" or "Tri-Tantri" (mentioned
before), which means a 3 stringed Veena in Sanskrit.
He renamed it "Jantar", which literally means
the same thing in Persian. Today of cource, this is
known as Sitar. but also according to many other beliefs,
one thing is certain that this instrument did exist
in India long before Amir Khusrao came.
main parts of a Sitar are as follows :-
: It is the
round base of the Sitar and is made of pumpkin gourd
It is also called
: The top half of the Tumba is cut open and covered
by a thick wooden base known
: It is that
piece of wood which helps in joining the Tumba and the
Tabli to the
: It is also known as the fingerboard and is the longest
part of the Sitar.
: It is set on the surface of the Tumba at one end of
the Sitar, where all the
after passing over the Bridge/Jawari (explained later)
pegs or Khunti
: They are the pegs to which the strings of the Sitar
are tied to.
: The Bridge(Jawari) serves the purpose of raising the
strings to a
above the fingerboard and transmiting the vibrations
to the sound board. It rests on the board of the resonator
situated a bit towards the Langot.
: They are made of metal, having a convex shape with
cuts on both sides
facilitate the tying of threads. The frets are tied
to the Daand with
help of these threads and their placement on the Daand
notes on the Sitar.
Gahen : It
is the thin flat bridge on the top half of the Sitar,
through which the
are made to pass, before being tied to the tuning pegs.
: They are the small beads which are used for fine tuning
: They are conical shaped and made of wires. They are
used for plucking
strings of this instrument.
physical structure of Sitar has gone through a drastic
change during all these years and to day one can have
more "Meend" (deflation of the string) on
a Sitar compared to earlier Sitars. "Meend"
is the life of Indian Music and without it one cannot
justify the expression of a Raga and that is why Violin
is very popular in India but not Piano. Our music cannot
be expressed on a chromatic pitch and until and unless
you stretch or deflate the string to get the real frequency
you cannot bring out the essence of a Raga of the hour.
popular instrument has gone though a great transformation
over the years and the manufacturers, in association
with the great masters, made a lot of scientific improvements
on this instrument. The number of frets used on Sitar
have steadily increased by the players from the traditional
16 to 17 and then to 19, 20, 21 or even 22 ("achal
that") depending on the "gharana" ( style
) to which the artist belongs.
strings and tuning arrangements of this instrument have
also gone through a revolutionary change during the
20th century. In fact Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan
Sahab, my "Dada Guru" i.e my father’s "guru",
never compromised with the traditional tuning arrangement,
which was based on having the first string tuned to
"Ma" (F - "Baaj ka taar"), second
and the third strings to Sa"(C - "Jor ka taar"),
fourth string to "Pa"(G – "Kharaj").
The fifth string was tuned to "Pa" (G – Steel)
again, then the sixth and the seventh strings on "Sa"(C),
one on the middle octave and the last one is on the
higher octave "Sa"(C). The fifth, sixth and
seventh strings together were popularly known as the
"chikari". This traditional tuning was followed
only by the traditional players till the late 20th
century. The same pattern of tuning was followed on
the instrument Surbahar also but with the addition of
an extra string known as "Laraj
ka taar" (tuned in the lowest octave of "Sa"(C).
My father, Padma Bhushan Pandit Debu Chaudhuri has innovated
a little with regard to the tuning of the instrument
and his tuning arrangement is as follows :- the first,
second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh strings
on the top of the Sitar are tuned to "Ma"(F
– "Baaj ka taar"), "Sa"(C – "Jor
ka Taar"), "Pa/Ma"(G/F – "Kharaj",
tuned according to Raga), "Pa"(G – steel),
"Sa"(C - middle octave), "Sa"(C
- middle octave), "Sa"(C - higher octave).
This tuning arrangement adopted by Panditji is a unique
innovation, which is being followed by all his students
must not forget that we have a proper history of Sitar
playing from the time of Maseet Sen(Khan), the sixth
descendant of Mian Tansen, also known as the originator
of "Maseetkhani Baaj" (style). Maseet Sen
added some more strings and gave a new dimension to
this instrument. It was from the time of Maseet Sen,
that we find the style of "Maseetkhani Baaj",
which has been followed by most of the great masters
of India. In the 19th century, we come across
the addition of lower set of sympathetic strings knows
as "Tarab" and as a result, the Sitars having
the "Tarabs" came to be known as "Tarabdar"
Sitars. In the present generation, with new developments
taking place on the instrument and in order to add more
creativity, we see that most of the players have changed
the pattern of string arrangements on their Sitar.
the earlier days, the instrument Surbahar was mainly
used to play Alap, Jor and Tarparan, which is very close
to the art of Veena playing and thereafter Sitar was
played for the purpose of presenting the "Bol"
(stroke patterns), "Bandish" (composition)
and "Gat-todas", in slow and fast movements.
Many players used to play Surbahar before playing Sitar
but now a days, due to the various developments which
have taken place on this instrument, the art of Sitar
playing combines all these techniques and as a result
Surbahar is becoming a rare instrument. My Dada Guru,
Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan Sahab, was one of the greatest
Surbahar players of India and the only player of this
century who played the Surbahar with three "Mizrabs"
(plectrums). Khan Sahab never played Surbahar to the
accompaniment of Tabla; as the normal practice is to
play Surbahar with with Pakhawaj only.