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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The santur (also santūr, santour, santoor ) (Template:Lang-fa) is a hammered dulcimer of Iran, India and various other countries, It is a trapezoid-shaped box often made of walnut or different exotic woods. The original classical santur has 72 strings. The name means one hundred strains in Persian. The oval-shaped mallets (Mezrabs) are feather-weight and are held between the index and middle fingers. A typical santur has two sets of bridges, providing a range of approximately three octaves. The right-hand strings are made of a combined mixture of copper and brass, while the left-hand strings are made of stainless steel. Two rows of 9 articles called "Kharak" (18 kharaks) divide the santur into three positions. Each lead four unitone strings to the right and left side of the instrument. Each note repeats three times in three positions [making (9*3) 27 tones all together and doubles in frequency going to the left. As four notes are repeated in tonation there are 23 tones in Santur. The santur is primarily tuned to a variety of different diatonic scales which utilize 1/4 tones (semi-tones). There are 12 modes of Persian classical music, known as the "Radif" which consists of 12 Dastgahs or Modes. Each Dastgah has its own tuning and character which derives from the different parts of Iran (Persia) which dates back thousands of years and was only preserved through performance until the late Ostad Abol Hassan Saba the legendary Master of Persian classical music, notated and categorized 3500 years of Persian music into the "Radif of Saba."



Many instruments around the world at least in part, derive from the santur. Similar forms of the santur have been present in neighboring cultures like Iran, Armenia, Turkey, and Iraq for centuries. The Indian santoor is thicker, more rectangular, and has more strings. Its corresponding mallets are also held differently. The Chinese yangqin originated from the Persian santur. The Roma people introduced a derivative of the santur called the cymbalum to Eastern Europe, which in turn likely led to the development of the clavichord and the piano. The Greek santouri is also derived from the santur, and in Nikos Kazantzakis' classic novel Zorba the Greek Zorba plays the santouri.


The Santur was invented in Persia (today's Iran) around 1800 years ago. This instrument was traded and traveled to different parts of the middle east and each country customized and designed their own versions to adapt to their musical scales and tunings. The original santur was made with tree bark, stones and stringed with goat intestines.

Notable Persian santur players

Notable Greek santur players

Ostad Ardavan Kamkar Ostad Pashang Kamkar

Notable Iraqi santur players

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Santur" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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