sitar sĭtärˈ [key], fretted string instrument with a gourdlike body and a long neck, similar to the lute. It has from 3 to 7 gut strings, tuned in fourths or fifths (or both), and a lower course of 12 wire strings that vibrate sympathetically with the first set. It is played alone or in a small ensemble. Indigenous to the India subcontinent, the sitar was popularized in the West in the 1960s by the Indian virtuoso Ravi Shankar and is sometimes used in rock music.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Music: Theory, Forms, and Instruments