Sitar, the most popular instrument in Hindustani shastriya sangeet, is also the most versatile instrument. Its ability to produce a deeply emotive tone so close to human voice with all agility and liveliness has made it the most sought for instrument.
The fact that the sitar music has had the patronage for about 700 years and is still being practiced with
total dedication and passion is a testimony to its grandeur.
The origin of sitar can be traced back to 1300 AD. It is believed that sitar was derived from a Persian instrument called “setar”.
Invention of sitar is mostly attributed to Amir Kushro, though there are conflicting views about this.
Another theory claims that sitar was developed from other ancient Indian instruments like rudra vina / saraswathi vina.
Theories apart, we are left with a vast musical treasure and a great heritage to feel proud about.
The present style of sitar playing is believed to have originated from Mazit Khan, who composed several gats or compositions.
These gats are still being played and are referred to as mazitkhani gats.
Another important name in sitar music is Raza khan who composed fast gats named after him as razakhani gats.
Sitar music scaled to great peaks through two of the most important schools namely Imdadkhani Garana of Ustad Imdad Khan and Maihar Gharana of Baba Ustad Allaudin Khan
Maihar Gharana has produced the world renowned Pt Ravi shankar,
to whom the credit of popularizing Sitar music across the globe goes.
Pt Nikhil Banerjee was a great master of this gharana.
The most celebrated sitarist of imdadkhani Gharana , Ustad vilayat Khan made several innovations and added nuances to sitar music that produced vocal effect to sitar otherwise called the Gayaki or singing sitar.
Some of the other living legends are Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, Ustad Rais Khan, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Pandit Budhaditya Mukherjee.