Sitār (Bengali setār; Marathi satār)
(Bengali setār; Marathi satār)
Large, fretted long-necked lute. It is a prominent instrument of the classical music of the northern and central regions of South Asia. Though played by some itinerant rural performers (in Rajasthan) and in modern film and radio orchestras, the sitār is found mainly in chamber music as formerly practised at the Muslim and Hindu courts and now on the public concert stage and through urban media.
The name sitār is an Urdu transcription of sihtār (‘three-stringed’) from Persian, the court language of North India from the 13th century to the 19th. It did not become standard in India until the instrument began to reach its present form in the 18th century, and we must look to other Perso-Turkic names for long-necked lutes – tanbūr, tanbūrah, to which sihtār may first have been an adjective – for early forms of the sitār, as well as of the tambūrā, which is of fundamentally similar construction....