Setar

  (Redirected from Setar (lute))

A setar (Persian: سه‌تار‎, pronounced [seˈt̪ʰɒːɾ]) is a stringed instrument, a type of lute used in Persian traditional music, played solo or accompanying voice.[1] It is a member of the tanbur family of long-necked lutes with a range of more than two and a half octaves.[1] Originally a three stringed instrument, a fourth string was added by the mid 19th century.[1] It is played with the index finger of the right hand.

Setar (سه‌تار‎)
Mehdi rajabian setar مهدی رجبیان سه تار نوازی.jpg
Setar with 28 fretes
String instrument
Other namessetaar or setâr
Classification Plucked
Hornbostel–Sachs classification321.321
(Necked-bowl lutes: instruments in which sound is produced by one or more vibrating strings, in which the resonator and string bearer are physically united and can not be separated without destroying the instrument, in which the strings run in a plane parallel to the sound table, whose body is shaped like a bowl)
DevelopedDeveloped by the 15th century, possibly earlier. 4th string added widely by 19th century
Playing range
Tar Range.png
Related instruments
Tambouras, Tar, Tanbur
Sound sample
A short clip in "Dastgahe Segah" using the Setar.

It has been speculated that the setar originated in Persia by the 9th century C.E.[2] A more conservative estimate says "it originated in the 15th century, or even earlier."[1]

Although related to the tanbur, in recent centuries, the setar has evolved so that, musically, it more closely resembles the tar, both in tuning and playing style.

EtymologyEdit

According to Curt Sachs, Persians chose to name their lutes around the word tar, meaning string, combined with a word for the number of strings. Du + tar is the 2-stringed dutār, se + tar is the 3-stringed setār, čartar (4 strings), pančtār (5 strings).[3] The modern Iranian instrument's name سه‌تار setâr is a combination of سه se—meaning "three"—and تار târ—meaning "string", therefore the word gives the meaning of "three-stringed" or "tri-stringed".

In spite of the instrument's name implying it should have three strings, the modern instrument actually has four strings. One was added in the 19th century.[1] Strings however are grouped so that musicians are still dealing with three groups or courses of strings, instead of four separately played strings.

Sharing a nameEdit

Other tanbur-family instruments share the setar name. Sharing the name may not mean a direct connection between the musical traditions.

In Tajikistan, the Pamiri Setor is larger than the Iranian setar. It has 3 playing strings and sympathetic strings (as many as 8-12).[1] It is played with a "thimblelike metal plectrum" worn on a finger.[4]

In Baluchistan, the setar is larger than the Iranian setar, and is a "rhythmic drone" instrument to accompany singing. Its three strings are set up to resemble the dutar's two strings: one bass string and a pair of strings tune "a 4th higher."[1]

In Pakistan, there exists the Chitrali sitar with 5 strings in 3 courses, with melody played on the top two strings.

In Xinjiang, China, Satar (Uighur: ساتار; Chinese: 萨塔尔, Sàtǎ'ěr)[a] is an important instrument in 12 muqam. It is a bowed lute with 13 strings, one raised bowing string and 12 sympathetic strings, tuned to the mode of the muqam or piece being played.

In India, the Sitar is an ancient instrument with many forms. Its name is "an Urdu transcription of the Persian sihtār".[1] The Indian instrument was likely adapted from instruments brought from the north with invading Muslim armies and then developed locally.[1]

ConstructionEdit

 
Parts of an Iranian Setar

1. Peghead or headstock

2. Pegs

3. Fret above nut

4. Nut

5. Main Frets

6. Side Frets or Secondary Frets

7. Neck

8. Bowl

9. Sound holes

10. Bridge

11. String holder or wire holder

12. Strings

The instrument can be categorized as a neck-bowl instrument. Strings run from the pegs at the top of the neck, across a bone or plastic nut that has grooves to separate them, down the neck, across the bowl, over the bridge and are secured to a string holder at the end of the bowl. The pegs are inserted directly into the end of the instrument's neck, similar to a headstock.

 
Setar bowl or body, string holder, strings, bridge and sound holes

The bowl is structurally similar to the bowl of the tanbur, but smaller and pear-shaped. The length of the bowl is from 26 to 30 cm, its width is between 12 to 16 cm and its depth is about 13 cm. It is usually made of mulberry or walnut wood. The structure of the bowl can be either a single piece of wood or made of separate and glued pieces. The soundboard of the bowl is made of thin sheets of wood. It has sound holes to let the sound escape the bowl. The musician's hand may be placed on it while playing. The length of the neck is 40 to 48 cm long and 3 cm wide. A 12 cm section at the top is set aside for the pegs. The neck may be decorated with camel bone, covering the neck to make it more beautiful and to extend its useful life. The wooden bridge is between 5 to 6 cm long and its height is less than 1 cm. It has shallow grooves for the strings to rest in. The strings, after passing over the bridge from the neck, are secured on the wire holder. The neck has frets made from thin threads made of animal intestines or silk. They are tied in 3 or 4 strands across the neck, and are responsible for dividing the neck into lengths, allowing the musician to find notes. There may be 26 frets, one of which is at the nut and not used to create a note.

CharacteristicsEdit

The setar belongs to the tanbur family, but today it is very close to the tar, having the same neck (and same number of frets and tuning system).[1]

The setar has a pear-shaped body, made (like those of the lute or oud) from strips of thin mulberrywood lathes, glued together into a bowl. Alternatively, the bowl could be carved from a block of wood.[1] The bowl is approximately 25 cm long and 15 centimeters at the widest point, and 15 centimeters deep.[1]

The neck of the instrument is long and narrow, long enough to support a 62–70 cm-long string (minus the 25 cm where the string passes over the bowl after leaving the neck). The neck has gut strings wrapped around it which function as frets, which can be positioned to change the notes that the musician will hit upon fingering at the fret.[1][5] The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments says that there are between 25 and 27 frets.[1] Another source, mentions between 22 and 28 frets, placed according to the musician's ear.[5]

 
Comparison of the bowl of the tanbur (top) and setar (bottom)

The instrument is strung with four strings. From top to bottom the strings are (4) Bam or bass string, (3) drone string, (2) yellow string) and (1) silver string.

The top-two strings, referred to together by the one-string's name —bam (بم)— function together as a pair and are played together. The other two strings are known as the gold string and the silver string. The silver string is the melody string. Historically, only the (4) bam string, the (2) yellow string and the (1) silver string existed. The need for the additional fourth string was recognized centuries ago, by intellectual thinkers such as Abu Nasr al-Farabi (ca. 872-950 C.E.), Abu Ali Sina (980-1037 C.E.), Safi al-Din Ermavi (ca. 1216-1294 C.E.), and (in the 20th century) the late Abul Hassan Khan Saba.

The new string is sometimes referred to as the "fourth string" because it is the last of the four strings to be added to the instrument. However, it was inserted between the yellow string and bass string; today when looking at the modern instrument being played, it is the (3) drone string, the third string from the bottom. The newest string is also known as the Mushtaq (مشتاق) string, because it was first used by Mushtaq Ali Shah, according to a narration of Abolhassan Saba.

Playing the setarEdit

The setar is played with the musician sitting, held at a 45-degree angle on the right thigh. Normally, the musician uses the fingers of the left hand on the frets to choose notes on the white string (bottom-most string). The right hand plays the setar, usually using only the index finger.


The instrument is played using the index finger of the right hand, using an "oscillating motion"[1][6] This differentiates it from the tanburs, which are plucked with multiple fingers or with a homemade plectrum, made from plastic, quills or razor blades.[7]

In more complicated works the musician may use the index, middle, ring and sometimes the little finger of the left hand to fret notes, and may use the thumb to pick notes on the bass strings.

Tuning the setarEdit

 
Position of setar strings by name. From top to bottom the strings are called bam (بم), mushtaq (مشتاق), zeer (زیر) and hâd (حاد).[8]

The instrument is most commonly tuned c c' g c' using Helmholtz pitch notation.[1]

The strings are tuned in multiple ways, to match a music's tonality or a singer's voice. A basic example showing one of the tuning patterns, listed in scientific pitch notation, top to bottom: C3 C4 • G3 • C4. The lowest pitch strings played together as a course (C3 C4 are the bass string (made of bronze or phosphor-bronze) and the drone (made of steel). The highest pitch strings are the "yellow" G3, made of bronze or phosphor-bronze and the "white" G3 made of steel.

Players not only tune the strings of the setar, but also move the gut or nylon frets that are tied around the neck, between the neck and the strings. Since these frets are moveable, players can move them to set notes closer or farther apart. The instrument is designed to play microtones, pitches between the standard western pitches on the piano keyboard. A Koron lowers and a Sori raises the pitches by quarter steps (flats and sharps are half-steps).

Setting strings for a DastgâhEdit

 
Woman with a setar, Safavid Iran, Isfahan (ca. 1600-1610)
 
Maestro Sa'id Hormozi. He had many notable students, e.g., Mohammad-Reza Lotfi and Hossein Alizadeh.

Stings are tuned to meet the tonal requirements of Dastgâh.

The instrument's four strings are not always set the same. Tones are not absolutes (unless playing with instruments that are set, such as a western-instruments with standardized and unchangeable pitches). Rather, the strings are intervals, what one string sounds like when compared to the first string.

Mahur and Chahargah
String Persian note An equivalent western note Sound clip of note
Bass string C A#
Mahoor and Chahargah tuning, 4th string,Persian tone C, Western tone = A sharp
Drone string C A#
Mahoor and Chahargah tuning, 3rd string,Persian tone C, Western tone = A sharp
Yellow string G F
Mahoor and Chahargah tuning, 2nd string,Persian tone G, Western tone = F
White string C A#
Tone used to tune to mahoor and chahargah dastgah
Nava and Homayun

and Esfahan

String Persian note An equivalent western note Sound clip of note
Bass string D C
Nava and Homayun and Esfahan tuning for Setar 4th string, Persian tone D = Western tone C
Drone string D C
Nava and Homayun and Esfahan tuning for Setar 3rd string, Persian tone D = Western tone C
Yellow string G F
Nava and Homayun and Esfahan tuning for Setar 2nd string, Persian tone G = Western tone F
White string C A#
Nava and Homayun and Esfahan tuning for Setar 1ststring, Persian tone C = Western tone A#
Rast Panjgah
String Persian note An equivalent western note Sound clip of note
Bass string C A#
Rast Panjgah tuning for setar 4th string, Persian note C = Western note A sharp
Drone string C A#
Rast Panjgah tuning for setar 3rd string, Persian note C = Western note A sharp
Yellow string F D
Rast Panjgah tuning for setar 2nd string, Persian note F = Western note D sharp
White string C A#
Rast Panjgah tuning for setar 1st string, Persian noteC = Western note A sharp
Shur and Afshari

and Abu'ata and Dashti

String Persian note An equivalent western note Sound clip of note
Bass string F D#
Shur, Afshari, Abu'ata and Dashti tuning for Setar, 4th string, Persian tone F = Western tone D sharp
Drone string C A#
Shur, Afshari, Abu'ata and Dashti tuning for Setar, 3rd string, Persian tone C = Western tone A sharp
Yellow string G F
Shur, Afshari, Abu'ata and Dashti tuning for Setar, 2nd string, Persian tone G = Western tone F
White string C A#
Shur, Afshari, Abu'ata and Dashti tuning for Setar, 1st string, Persian tone C = Western tone A sharp

Setting the fretsEdit

 
Notes for the white string of a on a 25-fret Setar. White string tuned to C.

The table below can be used to position the frets on the instrument's neck; the frets are made of tied string and are moveable. The instrument used to create the measurements had a scale length of 66 centimeters, from nut at the top to bridge at the bottom.

The table contains the names and playable samples of notes, for a string set to C. The instrument has microtones; in western music the musical scale is made of tones and half-tones. In Persian music, there can be quarter tones as well, marked koron or sori. These are quarter tones. Koron is 1/4 step flat. Sori is 1/4 step sharp. For example, in the photo there is an E4, E4 flat, and between the two an E4 koron. Between the F4 and the F4 sharp is the F4 sori.

Fret number below nut Name of note when open sting is C Distance from nut (cm) Distance from bridge (cm) Number of wraps around neck Sound clip of note
0

Open string

C4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, open string note
1 D4 koron 3.4 62.6 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 1st fret D koron
2 D 5.4 60.6 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 2nd fret D
3 E4 flat 7.3 58.7 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 3rd fret E flat
4 E4 koron 10.3 55.7 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 4th fret E koron
5 E4 12.1 53.9 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 5th fret E
6 F4 13.9 52.1 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 6th fret F
7 F4 sori 16.5 49.5 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 7th fret F sori
8 F4 sharp 19.0 47.0 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 8th fret F sharp
9 G4 20.6 45.4 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 9th fret G
10 A4 flat 22.0 44.0 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 10th fret A flat
11 A4 koron 24.2 41.8 3 or 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 11th fret A koron
12 A4 25.6 40.4 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 12th fret A
13 B4 flat 26.9 39.1 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 13th fret B flat
14 B4 koron 28.9 37.1 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 14th B koron
15 B4 30.1 35.9 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 15th fret B
16 C5 31.2 34.8 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 16th fret C
17 D5 koron 33.0 33.0 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 17th fret D koron
18 D5 35.7 30.3 3 or 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 18th fret D
19 E5 flat 36.7 29.3 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 19th fret E flat
20 E5 koron 38.2 27.8 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 20th fret E koron
21 E5 39.1 26.9 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 21th fret E
22 F5 39.9 26.1 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 22th fret F
23 F5 sharp 41.3 24.8 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 23th fret F sharp
24 G5 42.5 23.5 3
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 24th fret G
25 A5 flat 44.0 22.0 4
Setar 1st string tuned to C, 25th fret A flat

The setar in recorded mediaEdit

The setar was first recorded for His Master's Voice in the winter of 1888-1889 (1306 AH) by Arthur James Twain. He recorded singer Batool Rezaei (stage name: Banoo Machol Parvaneh, mother of Khatereh Parvaneh) playing setar, accompanied by Habibollah Samaei on santur, Ghavam Al-Sultan on tar and Agha Mehdi Navai on ney.[9][10]

Notable setaristsEdit

 
Hossein Alizadeh playing Setar

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The Chinese translation—萨塔尔, sàtǎ'ěr—is a transliteration of the original Persian loanword (via Uyghur).

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Jean During; Alastair Dick (1984). "Setār". In Stanley Sadie (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. London: MacMillan Press Limited. pp. 353–354. ISBN 0-943818-05-2.
  2. ^ The Stringed Instrument Database, entry Setar
  3. ^ Curt Sachs (1940). The History of Musical Instruments. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 256–257.
  4. ^ "Music and Poetry from the Pamir Mountains Musical instruments". The Institute of Ismaili Studies. 1 September 2010. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. The sitar is a long-necked lute with nylon and steel wire strings. The wooden belly is oval-shaped and pierced by a number of sound-holes in a decorative pattern. The sitar is plucked by a thimble-like metal plectrum worn over the forefinger of the right hand and produces a clear sound.
  5. ^ a b Parham Nassehpoor. "Setar".
  6. ^ setarmusic, Ostad Simak Nasr. "AFSHAR - Siamak Nasr - Setar". [Video showing setar being played. Shows playing technique using index finger, moving up and down on strings.]
  7. ^ Scheherazade Qassim Hassan; R. Conway Morris; John Baily; Jean During (1984). "Tanbūr". In Stanley Sadie (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. London: MacMillan Press Limited. pp. 518–519. ISBN 0-943818-05-2.
  8. ^ امين جزايري (Ramin Jazayeri). "سيم مشتاق (Sim eager)". وترهاي سه تار از بالا به پايين بدين ترتيب هستند؛ وتر بم با سيمي به قطر تقريبي35- 25 ميكرون از جنس برنج. وتر مشتاق(زنگ) با سيمي به قطر تقريبي20 ـ 18 ميكرون از جنس فولاد. وتر زير با سيمي به قطرتقريبي 20 ـ 18 ميكرون از جنس برنج. وتر حاد با سيمي به قطر تقريبي 20 ـ 18 ميكرون از جنس فولاد. [translation: The setar chords are as follows from top to bottom; Bam chord with a wire approximately 35-35 microns in diameter made of brass. Mushtaq chord (bell) with a wire approximately 20-18 microns in diameter made of steel. The zir chord with a wire with a diameter of approximately 20-18 microns made of brass. Hâd chord with wire with a diameter of approximately 20-18 microns made of steel.]
  9. ^ Mohammad Reza Sharaili. "اولین نوای ضبط شده از سه تار (Translation: The first recorded sound from Setar)". womenofmusic.ir. Archived from the original on 31 August 2018.
  10. ^ "از دوره پهلوی اول، زنان وارد عرصه اجتماعی هنر شدند/ پروانه؛ نوازنده اولین سه تار ضبط شده در تاریخ موسیقی ایران (Translation: From the first Pahlavi period, women entered the social arena of art / Parvaneh; Musician of the first recorded setar in the history of Iranian music)". mehrkhane.com. Archived from the original on 21 April 2015. ......بتول رضایی...پروانه؛ نوازنده اولین سه تار ضبط شده در تاریخ موسیقی ایران... وی افزود: بتول رضایی با اسم مستعار پروانه، اولین نوازنده زن است که صدای سازش ضبط شده است. اولین اثری که از ساز سه تار ضبط شده است، صدای سه تار او است. او نوازنده توانمندی بود که در سال 1312، در سن 25 سالگی به دلیل بیماری سل فوت کرد. او نوازنده اولین سه تار ضبط شده در تاریخ موسیقی ایران است. (translation: Batool Rezaei. The Butterfly; Musician of the first recorded setar in the history of Iranian music. He added: Batool Rezaei, nicknamed Parvaneh, is the first female musician whose compromise voice has been recorded. The first work recorded from a setar instrument is her setar sound. She was a talented musician who died of tuberculosis in 1913 at the age of 25. She is the musician of the first recorded setar in the history of Iranian music)

External linksEdit