Santoor – History & Info

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The Santoor is an Indo-Iranian  stringed trapezoid-shaped instrument often made of walnut, and has seventy strings, sometimes more. At one point of time Santoor used to be a 100-stringed instrument played in a style of music known as the Sufiana Mausiqi. The sufis used it as an accompaniment for their hymns

The special-shaped mallets that are used for stroking the instrument to create sound are lightweight, and are held between the index and middle fingers. A regular Santoor has two sets of bridges that help to provide a range of three octaves. It resembles the Shata-Tantri Veena .

This stringed instrument is basically made out of wood. The frame is made out of either walnut or maple wood in most cases. The top and bottom boards are either plywood or veneer.  On the sound board, the wooden bridges are placed, in order to seat stretched strings across. These strings could be tied on nails or pins on the left side of the instrument and stretched over the sound board on top of the bridges to the right side.

On the right side there are steel tuning pegs or tuning pins, which allow tuning of ach string to a desired musical note or a frequency or a pitch.

The Santoor is a unique Indian string instrument that is neither plucked nor bowed but is played with a pair of light wooden mallets also called hammers.

The Santoor is played while sitting in an Ardha-Padmasana position and placed on the lap.

The Santoor is a flat shaped instrument. It is wider at one end and short at the other end. The wooden box is broader in size for bass notes or low pitch notes and is tapered at the other side for the high-pitched notes.

While playing, the broad side is closer to the waist of the musician and the shorter side is away from. Both hands are used for lightly striking the strikers on the strings. Players with sufficient practice and mastery over the instrument can also skillfully glide the strikers on the strings and it produces a beautiful sound effect

The Santoor happens to be a delicate instrument sensitive to even the lightest strokes and glides. These are played on the strings either closer to the bridges or a little away from bridges. Both styles of playing result in producing distinct and unique tones. Sometimes player strokes it by one hand muffles it with the other using the face of the palm just to create more intricate and fine variety.

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