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The Tar Options
Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2015 12:00:00 AM
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The Tar

The tar is a long-necked lute found in Iran and throughout the Caucasus region. Its music was believed to cure a number of physical maladies and induce philosophical moods that compel listeners to reflect upon life. The tar's double-bowl shape is carved from mulberry wood, and a thin membrane of stretched lambskin covers the top. It has a number of adjustable frets as well as three double courses of strings. Tar, Persian for string, is the root for the names of what other instruments? More...
Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2015 11:31:35 AM

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So 'du tar', 'si tar' mentioned in the article must mean 'two strings' and 'three stars' respectively.
Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2015 7:40:57 PM

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There is probably no other instrument that speaks to the soul of the Iranian musician so intimately as the setar. The setar is the primary melodic instrument of the Sufi mystics and so has a special, spiritual meaning - alongside the daf and ney.

The name setar is made up of se which means "three" and tar, which means "string". The modern setar however has four strings with the bottom two strings usually played together.

The strings of the setar are struck and plucked with the fingernail of the right index finger and the 24 or 26 parde (or "frets") are held with the fingers of the left hand.

Much of the spirituality of the music of the setar comes as a result of this personal connection that the player feels through his fingers. During solo performances, the listener relates to the sound of the setar as if hearing the player's own voice.


If the setar represents the internal, personal side of Iranian music, the tar is its expansive, outspoken younger brother.

The tar is the most developed instrument in Iranian music with the most advanced acoustics. The tar therefore has a wide tonal vocabulary - which makes it a demanding instrument to play.

The two-part sound box (usually carved from a single piece of wood) gives the tar volume and tonal clarity. Unlike most other stringed instruments, the tar has a skin stretched over the open face of its sound box like a drum. It has six strings positioned in three pairs which are struck with a mezrab (plectrum).

This gives the sound of the tar a ringing sonority which conveys the message of its music clearly and confidently. Players favor the tar for its ability to communicate with a large audience.

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