Santoor – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Musical Instruments Glossary

What is a Santoor?

The Santoor is a traditional Indian musical instrument that belongs to the family of hammered dulcimers. It is a trapezoid-shaped instrument with a set of strings that are struck with two wooden mallets, producing a rich and resonant sound. The Santoor is commonly used in Indian classical music, as well as in folk and Sufi music traditions.

History of the Santoor

The Santoor has a long and rich history that dates back to ancient times. It is believed to have originated in the Persian region and was introduced to India by Persian musicians. Over the centuries, the Santoor has evolved and adapted to Indian musical traditions, becoming an integral part of the country’s musical heritage.

Construction and Materials of the Santoor

The Santoor is typically made of walnut wood, with a wooden frame and soundboard. It has a set of strings that are stretched across the soundboard, which are struck with two wooden mallets called “mezrab.” The strings are usually made of steel or bronze, and are tuned to different pitches to produce a range of tones.

Playing Techniques of the Santoor

Playing the Santoor requires a unique technique that involves striking the strings with the mallets in a rhythmic and precise manner. The player can produce different dynamics and tones by varying the pressure and angle of the mallets on the strings. The Santoor is played by sitting cross-legged on the floor, with the instrument placed on the player’s lap.

Notable Santoor Players

There have been many talented Santoor players throughout history who have contributed to the popularity and recognition of the instrument. Some notable Santoor players include Shivkumar Sharma, Pandit Bhajan Sopori, and Tarun Bhattacharya. These musicians have mastered the art of playing the Santoor and have showcased its versatility and beauty in their performances.

Variations of the Santoor

Over the years, different variations of the Santoor have emerged, each with its own unique characteristics and playing style. The Kashmiri Santoor, for example, has a larger size and a different tuning system compared to the traditional Indian Santoor. There are also electric versions of the Santoor that have been developed to cater to modern musical genres and performances. Despite these variations, the essence and beauty of the Santoor remain intact, making it a beloved instrument in the world of music.