Ustad Imrat Khan

Indian Classical Music

The Sitar

The sitar is believed to have been modified and created by the Mughal Scholar Hazrat Amir Khusru in the 14th Century. Hazrat Amir Khusru was prime minister of the Mughal court and though Indian, his ancestors were of Persian descent which made his understanding of the two forms of music unique.

Bringing together musicians from all over India and Persia, Khusru fused together both instruments and styles of music until the developed into the origins of Indian Classical music and the instruments we are familiar with today.

The Sitar is a stringed instrument played very much like a guitar with the right hand plucking and the left hand playing the frets. The present day sitar was developed from the Persian Sehetar, a three stringed lute-like instrument, with the Indian Veena, a four stringed instrument with a long bamboo neck and gourd. The resulting instrument was renamed the Sitar and had a long wooden neck with a gourd for a music box. The sitar was mainly used for accompaniment to devotional singing in the court, temple or shrines. Later the sitar ang (style) of playing was developed as an instrumental style relying heavily on speed and right hand techniques.

The Etawa Gharana's contribution to the sitar is not only through the musical styles, such as the Gayaki ang and compositions but also on the craftsmanship and structure of the instrument to make it the sound purer, sweeter and stronger. Ustad Imdad and Inayat Khan developed modificiations with affected the tonal qualities of the instrument. The inclusion of the tabli (wooden plate at the join of the neck and gourd) and a second gourd at the end of the neck of the instrument were introduced during their time. The length, tuning and stringing of the instrument was also perfected by these two great musicians. Ustad Vilayat Khan and Ustad Imrat Khan introduced the legendary string setting on the sitar which has been established as a benchmark in sitar development.