‘Dhun (Dadra and Fast Teental)’, A Study of Ravi Shankar and the Sitar
By: Ishan Sharma
Course: MUS 101
In ‘Sitar and sarod in the 18th and 19th centuries’ by A. Miner (1993), the author claims that classical music in India originally paid tribute to Divinity. Lord Siva, a Hindu deity, is believed to be the creator of sound, rhythm and dance. It is said in many Hindu folk tales that the primary steps towards attaining absolute bliss are to realize humility before art and devotion. For this reason, Indian Classical Music is held very sacred in Hinduism. Saraswati, the daughter of Siva and the goddess of learning, is often depicted playing the ancient Indian instrument called the veena. The veena much resembles the modern sitar, a chordophone largely used in Indian Classical Music. This paper will discuss the history and construction of the sitar. It will also discuss the role Ravi Shankar played in popularizing Indian Classical Music in the Western World along with a musical analysis of his work, specifically the artistic master piece ‘Dhun (Dadra and Fast Teental)’.
According to Miner (1993), historians claim the first sighting of a sitar was around 1740 in Delhi. It largely resembled the Persian chordophone, the setar. Through the 18th and 19th century the sitar underwent many physical changes. One of these changes was the addition of the tarab, the sympathetic strings that aren’t played. Sympathetic strings were scarce in sitars of the 1800’s but are more common in today’s sitars. The sitar underwent many changes as time passed to present us with the modern day sitar.
‘Types of Sitar’ (n.d.) describes the two types of modern sitars as sharing common features but also varying. The two modern sitars are often referred to as the ‘Vilayat Khan Sitars’(VKS) and the ‘Ravi Shankar Sitars’ (RSS), named after Vilayat Khan and Ravi Shankar, two prominent sitar players of their age. RSS are constructed with bass strings, producing a bass-filled sound...