Tuning of Sitar

in Sitar, Tuning

As we already know that that sitar is a stringed musical instrument and it contains around 19-20 strings out of which 7 are main and the remaining ones are sympathetic strings.

Tuning of a sitar is not a very difficult task and it varies from the requirements of user to user and the required raaga. Although there is no hard and fast rule for tuning a sitar but following given are the most common notes used while tuning a sitar:

First and foremost, before tuning a sitar, we will need either a harmonium or we can use a digital tuner for the same purpose.

The first main string known as baj tar is always tuned to ‘ma. This is below the main Sa and hence an apostrophe is used for the same.

The second main string will tuned to ‘Sa which is present one octave below the main Sa. This string is only present in the Kharaj Pancham(Ravi Shankar Style) sitar and is missing in the Gandhar Pancham(Vilayat Khan Style) and the sitars used by the Gayaki Ang Players.

The third main string is tuned to ‘‘Pa which lies in second octave below Sa. This note is not always fixed and can vary with the raga and the school of playing(gharana).

The fourth main string is tuned to “Sa which is exactly two octaves below the main Sa.

The fifth main string is tuned to ‘Pa which is present in the octave below the main Sa. This is used for Kharaj Pancham Style and can vary for others. For Vilayat Khan Style, Ga is used for this string.

The sixth and the seventh strings are known as Chikari or the drone strings. They  just help in enhancing and enriching the sound of Sa and are hence tuned to Sa and Sa’.

All the sympathetic strings are tuned depending upon the raaga. The number of sympathetic strings vary according to the instrument size and style. Usually there are around 11-13 of them. Sympathetic strings are also known as Tarab strings. All the eleven strings are tuned as :

  • First Tarab –       Sa (Main Sa)
  • Second Tarab –  ‘Ni (Present in one octave below Sa)

  • Third Tarab –      Sa (Main Sa)

  • Fourth Tarab –    Re (Present in same octave as main Sa)

  • Fifth Tarab –        Ga (Present in same octave as main Sa))

  • Sixth Tarab –       ma

  • Seventh Tarab –  Pa (Present in same octave as main Sa)

  • Eighth Tarab –    Dha (Present in same octave as main Sa)

  • Ninth Tarab –      Ni (Present in same octave as main Sa)

  • Tenth Tarab –      Sa’

  • Eleventh Tarab – Sa’

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