Sitar music, popularized worldwide by sitar musician Ravi Shankar

Sitar Music: Truly Exotic and Melodic

Famous sitar musician, Ravi Shankar
  • The music of the sitar has charmed audiences for thousands of years
  • Sitar music has long been favored by the biggest performers worldwide, including Ravi Shankar, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and even Metallica!
  • Mastering the sitar represents a worthwhile challenge to even veteran guitarists -- but the musical rewards are invaluable!


From the sacred sub-continent of India flow the melodic sounds of one of the most unique and popular stringed instruments, the sitar. Music-lovers and musicians the world over have come to appreciate the sultry sonic stylings of sitar music.

As any Beatles fan knows, the lush, exotic sounds of sitar music are like no other. In fact, George Harrison, the “Quiet Beatle,” was so enchanted by this Middle Eastern stringed instrument that he almost single-handedly popularized sitar music in the Western Hemisphere. Learn more about George Harrison, sitar player.

Sitar Music, A Worldwide Phenomenon

Today, the music of the sitar, a relative of the lute, is experiencing a worldwide wave of popularity and respect, and in a variety of musical genres. While many accomplished Western musicians have taken to sitar music, the majority of sitar masters hail from Middle Eastern and Indian backgrounds. This is only natural, as the sitar is considered the signature instrument of these regions.

Throughout the Western Hemisphere and the world, there may be no more well-known a sitar musician than Ravi Shankar. Indeed, Shankar, a true trend-setter, helped to foster a healthy devotion to sitar music in George Harrison’ (and then the Beatles). Such memorable tunes as “The Inner Light,” “Love You To,” Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” as well as much of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, prominently spotlight sitar music.

Sitar music has played a memorable role in the oeuvre of such musical superstars as the Rolling Stones’ (on their mega-hit “Paint It Black”) and Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam.” Not bad for a traditional stringed instrument dating back to the Middle Ages!

Sitar musician, George Harrison

George Harrison / Beatles
Sitarist, Annapurna Devi

Annapurna Devi
Rolling Stones famed Brian Jones, Sitar player

Brian Jones / Rolling Stones

The Sounds of Sitar Music

But you may be wondering, just what exactly is the sitar? Musically, this plucked, stringed instrument, a close relative of the lute, produces a very rich and delicate sound. According to musical experts, the sound offers complex harmonic resonance.

 

Considered the signature instrument of Middle Eastern and North Indian classical music, sitars are constructed from specially seasoned wood and gourds. Typically, sitars have as many as four main strings, three or four drone strings and thirteen sympathetic, or resonating strings. However, sitar musicians may find a variety of instruments available today. For a more in-depth discussion of the construction and music of sitars, click on our Types of Sitars page.

Sitar music holds a unique sonic beauty, and the sounds they produce can enrich any musical composition. If a performer is willing to practice and perform sitar music, they will be rewarded with a true musical gift, as will the audience! Feel free to explore www.sitars.net, the leading online destination for all of your sitar needs!

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