Sitar is one of the most popular traditional Indian Instruments around the world popularized by one of the most well known Indian classical musicians, Ravi Shankar.
It is a highly resonating instrument which has a hollow body. It is mainly carved out of Mahagony or Teak wood and has Gourd (family of Pumpkin) fitted at one end of the wood to give resonance to the instrument. Sitar has 7 strings on top with different funtions and 13 sympathetic strings for producing Harmonics.
The tradiotional way of holding this instrument is to sit on the floor cross legged with the left foot stretching out and the base of the Sitar rests on the feet holding it diagonally accross. One has to wear a steel peak called Mizrab on the right hand index finger to strum the strings and with the left hand index finger play the notes.
A unique function of this instrument is that the Main string can be pulled 5 consecutive notes up from any given Fret to produce an unbroken sound of the pull which requires considerable practice and effort. One starts with basic practice exercises internalizing them while working on the technique of playing.
Anyone is capable of learning to play this instrument starting from the age of 6 until 60. A Sitar class typically lasts for an hour depending on the capacity of the learner. Repetitive playing of exercises for beginners and the advanced players learn the nuances of Indian classical music. Learning in person and via online is possible
Indian Classical Music is one of the Oldest Classical Music traditions continuously evolving because of it's improvised nature. It is Introspective and Spontaneous. The Music is based on various Modes called Ragas literally meaning Color, to express different emotions played in different Rhythmic Cycles called Tala. Each Raga has a certain melodic framework expressing a particular emotion. Also, there are different Ragas for different time of the day and different Seasons.
In a concert one Raga is played for a long time to explore deeper into a single emotion through different combinations before going into another. The Tala is an integral part of performance where the entire improvisation is based on the Tala. A lot of polyrhythmic patterns are played over a single Tala while improvising to express an advanced musical understanding and interaction between the melodic and percussive instrument.
A typical Indian Classical performance begins with a non rythmic slow Improvisation called Alap, gradually getting into rhythmic improvisation. The 2nd half of the performance starts as a duo with the percussionist to play compositions and improvise in different ways gradually increasing the speed. The end comes with high energy fast strumming of thedrone strings to lift the energy to a culminating point. The Conclusion of the performance comes with a short sweet melodic composition to bring back the energy to a stability.