- 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!
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!
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.