Santoor–the Indian Classical Musical Instrument

Santoor–the Indian string musical instrument

Well, I am pretty sure that if you have any sort of interest in Indian classical music, you have come across the divinely inspired music of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and his mastery over Santoor. At the same time, you might also have heard Pandit Bhajan Sopori who uses different kind of Santoor, but his class is very much the same.

There are many similar types of musical instruments played in different countries like Persia and Russia. The present day Santoor is associated with Shat-Tantri-Veena (शत्-तन्त्री वीणा) of the classical times.

The shape of Santoor is trapezoidal and often called hammer dulcimer. There are 100 strings in this instrument but Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma has changed the number of strings in his model of Santoor. He has also changed the base of the Santoor where he uses steel instead of brass.

The music of Santoor is quite popular in Kashmir and this is where Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Bhajan Sopori hails from–I have heard both of them playing in live and it is just mesmerizing to hear their music on Santoor.

Structure of Santoor

The Santoor is basically made out of wood. The outer framework is generally made out of either walnut or maple wood and the top and bottom boards sometimes can be either plywood or veneer. There are 2 wooden bridges that are provided to give 3 octaves of music. 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 so that when the Santoor player hits the strings with the hammer, it produces sound.

The tuning pins are provided on the right side of the Santoor. The player can strike the hammers to produce different notes of the music; however, I have seen Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Bhajan Sopori to use one hand to pluck the strings so as to give it the touch of Veena.

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