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Learn how to play Sitar: a string instrument

A musical instrument is an instrument created or adopted to make some unique and refreshing musical sounds. Every musical instrument is known for its different musical pieces that are composed and used for representing different moods in a film, a play or for any artistic creation.


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Sitar is a classical instrument used especially for emphasizing on the pleasant moods of the artist or for creating background music while showing the pleasant changes in the Nature. Overall the strings of sitar connect you to the artistic transformations and help you in spreading the positive vibes all around your small world.

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Composition of sitar:

  • Sitar is a plucked string instrument used mainly in Indian classical music.
  • The composition of sitar is complex yet attractive that easily drags your attention. A sitar can have 18.19.20 or 21 strings. Six or seven of these are played strings which run over the curved area of sitar. And the rest of all are sympathetic strings which resonate on the head of the instrument.
  • The instrument has two bridges. the large bridge is known as ‘Badaa Goraa’ and the small one is named as ‘chotaa Goraa’.
  • The large bridge is used for playing the drone strings and small bridge functions for the playing of sympathetic strings.
  • The bridges are fixed to the main chamber or ‘kaddu’, at the base of the instrument
  • The large resonance box is made up of dried pumpkin neck the second smaller resonance and its cover is possibly made up of the ‘Tun wood’. The metal strings and the movable chords have steel in it. Depending on the special features of the sitar it is more or less decorated with inlaid work of celluloid. The frets of most sitars are movable.
  • Size of the sitar depends on its length. Usually, full size sitars are about 4ft in length. The wooden neck is usually 35 inches in length or 3.5 inches in width.You can also get same sitar in 3/4th size or a half size model.
  • The small models may not produce the same sound like sitar in regular size. But it can be a better option if you decide to learn playing sitar from your childhood.

This musical instrument has 2 types.

1. Gayki style (also called as ‘vilayat khan’ style sitar) – this type of sitar is mostly made from the seasoned Tun wood with no curve decorations. It has 11 to 13 strings. It often has a dark polish. In this type of sitar there is only one resonance box on principle. It has 11 sympathetic strings. Out of which 6 are actual playing strings and 2 are played as melody strings over the range of 3 octaves.

2. Instrumental style (Ravi Shankar style sitar) – Ravi Shankar style sitar usually have 2 resonance boxes. It has 13 sympathetic resonance strings and 7 playing strings. 4 of 7 playing strings are known as melody strings over the range of 4 octaves.


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Method of playing sitar –

A musical instrument like sitar is played in a sitting position on the floor. The pumpkin body rests on the musician’s foot. And the instrument is held in a way that the neck is in a slanted position of about 45 degrees in front of the player. The playing strings that run across the large bridge are plucked using a wire finger pick on the right index finger. The resonant strings that run across the small bridge vibrate in response without being plucked. The left hand fingers the melody on the frets. The strings not only pressed down on frets but also pulled sideways. By following this method of playing sitar you will be able to create variety of pleasant sounds. That can be a great contribution to the Indian classical music.

After reading about the composition and playing method of the musical instrument like sitar you might come to the conclusion that sitar and Guitar are similar in nature…and the conclusion is correct to the some extent. Guitar works in the same way but creates different moods.

Guitar can be treated as a modified version of sitar. Guitar and sitar has some of the distinct characteristics too. Though both of the instruments have same functioning strings, the handling method of both the instruments is far different. Also, guitar cannot have the same everlasting impact on the human minds as sitar does.
So, if you have tried your hand on guitar, then we advise you try playing sitar at least once in a lifetime. You will feel the sense of connectivity and will surely Love it.

You can learn in detail about playing a sitar by checking out our course. Click here to access the same

April 1, 2016

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