Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by mackenzie. mackenzie Wonders, “how to make a sitar” Thanks for WONDERing with us, mackenzie!
Have you ever eaten at an Indian restaurant? Have you ever watched a Bollywood movie? If you've ever done either of those things, then chances are you've heard music that featured a unique instrument.
It probably sounded a bit like a guitar but with a signature buzz that most people associate with Middle Eastern music. What are we talking about? The sitar, of course!
The first time you see a sitar, you might think it looks a bit like a guitar or a banjo. About four feet long, most sitars feature a body made from a pear-shaped gourd, a long wooden neck, and numerous tuning pegs and movable frets.
As a stringed instrument, a sitar may have as few as 18 or as many as 21 metal strings. There are usually five or six played strings, one or two drone strings, and as many as a dozen sympathetic strings. The drone and sympathetic strings resonate along with the played strings, giving the sitar its characteristic sound.
The sitar is usually played while seated, with the player holding the instrument at a 45-degree angle in the lap. The right hand is used to pluck the played strings with a metallic pick, called a mizraab. The left hand is used to create specific notes by putting pressure on or between the frets.
Popular in Hindustani and Indian classical music in countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the sitar was probably developed from a Persian lute called the veena. Historians believe its name evolved from a different Persian instrument called a sehtar, which meant three (seh) strings (tar).
Most sitars are carefully hand-crafted out of a variety of different materials. The neck and faceplate are usually made from either teak wood or a variety of mahogany known as tun (pronounced "toon") wood. Gourds are used for the resonating chambers, and the bridges can be made from ebony, deer horn, or even camel bone.
Although the sitar is an old instrument with a long history, it became well-known around the world in the 1950s and 1960s through the work of a musician named Ravi Shankar. In fact, in the 1960s, Shankar taught George Harrison of The Beatles to play the sitar. Harrison played it on several Beatles songs. Brian Jones also played sitar on The Rolling Stones' hit "Paint It Black."