The santoor is an Indian stringed musical instrument. It is related to the Indian shata-tantri veena of earlier times and has strong resemblances with the Persian santur. It is a trapezoid-shaped hammered dulcimer often made of walnut, with seventy strings. The special-shaped mallets (mezrab) are lightweight and are held between the index and middle fingers. A typical santoor has two sets of bridges, providing a range of three octaves.
Santoor is an Indo-Iranian instrument and has Vedic origin and was later spread to several regions of Asia. In India, “Santoor” was used as an accompaniment instrument to the folk music of Kashmir. It was a 100-stringed instrument played in a style of music known as the Sufiana Mausiqi. The Sufi mystics used it as an accompaniment to their hymns. The original Sanskrit name of Santoor was “Shatha Tantri Veena” meaning a lute or a stringed instrument that has over hundred strings. Santoor is a Persian name to this same instrument “Shatha Tantri Veena” that has references back to Vedic literature.
The santoor is basically made out of wood. The framework is generally made out of either walnut or maple wood. The top and bottom boards sometimes can be either plywood or veneer. On the top board, also known as sound board, wooden bridges are placed, in order to seat stretched strings across. The strings are tied on nails or pins on the left side of the instrument and are 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, as they are commonly known, that allows tuning each individual string to a desired musical note or a frequency or a pitch. The santoor is a unique Iranian string instrument that is not plucked or bowed but is played with a pair of light wooden mallets or hammers. The santoor is played while sitting in an asana called Ardha-padmasana position and placing it on top of the lap. The santoor is a flat shaped instrument in the form of a trapezoid that means it is wider at one end and short at the other end. It is a wooden box that 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 the musician. Both left and right hands are used to lightly strike the strikers on the strings. One can also choose to skillfully glide the strikers on the strings.
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