sitar sĭtär´ [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.
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