This half term we are going to look closely at different stringed instruments. As this week is Diwali, we are going to look closely at the sitar. Diwali is the five-day Festival of Lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. We are going to find out about the Sitar as it is an instrument which is popular in northern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.It was invented in medieval India (about 500 years ago). It became more well known across the world through the works of Ravi Shakar and by the 1960s the instrument was used in Western popular music and he inspired the Beatles to use it in some of their songs.
The sitar is a string instrument which is plucked. The player uses the right hand to pluck and uses their left hand to push down on the strings. There are frets on the neck of the instrument (raised strip) and the player presses down in between each strip to change the pitch of the note. There are pegs on the side which you can turn to tune the instrument (by making the string slightly longer or shorter).
A sitar can have 18, 19, 20, or 21 strings. Six or seven of these are played strings go over the frets (and are plucked), and the remainder are sympathetic strings and resonate with the strings that are played.
Ravi Shankar was an incredible sitar player. You can watch him here teaching George Harrison from the Beatles how to play, His musical talent was passed down to his daughters and you can watch them performing together here. Anoushka was taught to play sitar by her father and now performs around the world. Norah is a singer and has sold more than 50 million records worldwide.