Santoor is a Persian word; in Sanskrit it is called the shata tantri veena or ‘a hundred - stringed lute.’ Presumably, itinerant musicians and gypsies carried this instrument in their wanderings across the continents of Asia and Europe, giving rise to a variety of instruments similar in nature - the santour in Iran, Iraq and Turkey; the yang-qin in China; the German hackbrett; the santoori in Greece; the kentele in Finland and the cimbalom or zymbalon of Hungary and Romania. The Indian version is a flat-shaped wooden box with metal strings stretched over brings, which produce different notes when struck with a pair of curved mallets made of walnut wood. Each bridge rests three strings on it, which are tuned to the same note.
Although the santoor has long been a part of the classical music repertoire in Persia and Arabia, in India it used to be heard only in the hills and valleys of Kashmir. It was mostly played in the Sufiana Mausiqi genre. It is only in the twentieth century. Primarily through the efforts of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, tat this instrument was brought into the classical arena.
PANDIT SHIV KUMAR SHARMA
Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma from Jammu is the man who brought santoor, a Kashmiri folk instrument of Sufiana music, out of the valley and into national and international prominence.
The credit for this ago goes to his father Pandit Umadutta Sharma, a music teacher and regular vocalist on the AIR stations of Jammu and Sringar. Umadutt Ji started training his son in vocals and tabla when the boy was five. But later he initiated Shiv Kumar into santoor which, he thought, deserved to be brought out of isolation in the valley.
The budding star got his first major breakthrough when he performed at the Haridas Sangeeth Sammelan in Mumbai in 1955. Both the artiste and the instrument had arrived on the national scene.
Before moving ahead Shiv Ji worked to solve few problems that the santoor had. One was the staccato notes produced by the wooden mallets used to tap the 100-stringed instrument. Another was that the notes could not be elongated. He changed the 25 ‘bridges’ of four strings apiece to 33 ‘bridges’. Up went the number of notes. Gone was the tuning system that repeated basic notes and restricted tune variations to 12. He also used new strings to get a soft, soothing tone and overcame the problem of staccato notes.
Shiv Ji made his debut in the west in 1968 at a festival of Indian music in the US organized by the sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. Today, thanks to Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, the santoor is a regular feature at music festivals round the world. The globe-trotting artiste is often accompanied by his younger son Rahul Sharma. The father-son duo had their debut at Oslo International Music Festival in 1999.
Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma is also well known as a composer for Hindi movies including Silsila (with Hariprasad Chaurasia), Chandni, Faasle, Vijay, Lamhe, Sahiba and Darr.
Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma has received many national and international wards including the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1986, the Padmashri in 1991 and Padma Vibhushan in 2001.
Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma’s name is synonymous with the instrument, santoor. This special album brings out the magical music of the legend, who is truly the ‘Last Word’ in santoor.
‘The Last Word’ is an exclusive series of 6 CDs, which signify ‘6 unparalleled names in the field of Classical music.’ This series presents 6 stalwarts whose names are synonymous with the respective instruments they play or they are known as the ultimate names in their respective arena of vocal music. Each album showcases & salutes the magnitude of musical treasure of the grandest maestros of Indian classical music, by presenting them in all their splendour. Each of these musical greats has done more than just create sublime music. They have created history with every stroke on their instrument, with every chord in their voice. Every album in this series brings out some melodic marvels of the most popular and celebrated classical stalwarts from India’s musical treasure. This album features Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, who is undoubtedly the ‘Last Word’ in Santoor.
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