Origin of Sitar

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It can now be safely said that Sitar is the most popular and versatile of all the Indian Classical Musical Instruments known to the world.

Thanks to the pioneering effort of world renowned Sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan, the guru of Dr. Madhu Nanduri, Sitar is now capable of imitating finer nuances of khayal and thumri gayaki (the vocal music of Northern India). Sitar sings in the hands of Vilayat Khan.

Contrary to the popular belief, Sitar is not the creation of Amir Khusro, the great poet musician of late 13th century. The Sitar, as we know it today, is not more than 250 years old. One Khusro Khan (brother of Niyamat Khan the celebrated creator of Khyal form of vocal music whose pseudonym was 'Sadarang') introduced the Sitar to the family of Hindustani musical instruments - sometime during the latter half of 18th century.

Sitar (seh-tar) a persian word, literally means three stringed instrument which sitar was perhaps in the beginning stages of its evolution. The present day Sitar however is nothing but a modified/modernized version of the age old veena. Khusro Khan's son Firoz Khan, grand son Maseet Khan and another great innovator Raza Khan contributed greatly to the development of 'Sitar baaj' (the technique of sitar playing).

In the present century the sitar baaj has received further impetus from the generations of a single family whose style has now come to be known as Imdadkhani baaj. Ustad Imdad Khan (who died in the year 1920) had introduced a unique style of his own not only on the Sitar but also on the 'surbahar' the bass version of sitar. While his eldest son Ustad Enayat Khan was acclaimed as the greatest Sitarist of his generation, the second son Ustad Wahid Khan specialised in surbahar playing. Ustad Vilayat Khan the son of Enayat Khan is now the reigning monarch of sitar. Hailed as the greatest sitarist of all time Vilayat Khan has revolutionized the art and technique of sitar playing. Sitar owes its present unsurpassing glory mainly to Vilayat Khan. Pandit Ravi shankar the other great sitarist of our times contributed in a large measure to the unrivalled popularity of the instrument world wide.


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