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The Sitar is a stringed musical instrument. It is associated closely with its country of origin, India.

It has appeared in several different forms since it was first developed in about 1700AD. It is most likely that it is based on the Persian lutes that were popular in the Moghul courts. Today, the most common form is a large long-necked instrument with about 20 arched frets and 17 or 18 strings. Three or four of the strings are used to play the melody, and three or four of them are used for a "drone" sound. These are played with a wire plectrum called a mizrab. The others (the "tarafdar") run underneath the frets. They are not often played directly, but are tuned to vibrate in sympathy with the others, creating the rich harmonic sounds that make the sitar instantly recognisable. The resonator (or kaddu), analogous to the box of a guitar, is a simple and fragile gourd.

The sitar is tuned by means of pegs, known as "kunti" which are used for course adjustments, and by several tuning beads used for fine adjustments. There are three main tuning schemes, traditional, Vilayat Khan, and pancham-kharaj. In traditional tuning, and pancham-kharaj tuning (the sort used by Shankar), there are three playing strings and four drones, in Vilayat Khan tuning, there are only two playing strings. The gulu, which connects the resonator to the neck is important in maintaining accurate tuning. Often they are too weak, so that the whole instrument can go out of tune.

The sitar's traditional home is in north-Indian classical music (Hindustani Sangeet). However, it has become popular in the west thanks to expert Indian musicians like Ravi Shankar and receptive locals like The Beatles. The sitar later fleshed out the sound of "psychedelic" poseurs like Kula Shaker. Today it also can be heard in Bollywood film scores (Filmi Sangeet).


Sources:
  • http://www.chandrakantha.com/articles/indian_music/sitar.html
  • http://www.chandrakantha.com/articles/indian_music/sitar/media/exploded_view.jpg
  • http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Stage/2049/sitar.html

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