Structure of the Setar PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 12 February 2008 00:00
Very brief and concise presentation of Setar by Dariush Tala'i, a great master of Tar, Setar and Radif (video in French)

English Transcript of the video:

Dariush Tala'i:

"Setar" in Persian (Farsi) means "Three Strings".
"Se" means three and "tar" means string. At the beginning there were three strings but another one was added and now there are four (Editor's note : the addition of the fourth string is credited to Moshtagh Ali Shah, a famous 18th century Setar master).

The usual principle of a small lute is that it has a long neck.

[The soundbox] is made of mulberry wood. The soundboard too is made of mulberry wood. The neck is made of Walnut tree wood.

Frets have the same positioning as those of the Tar. Techniques also are similar.

The singularity of the Setar is not really its form because the same shape is found almost everywhere (in other cultures), but is the right hand's technique, particular to the Setar... typically Iranian... from Persian Classical music.


and this is what follows : a Chaharmezrab (composed by Darvish Khan) in Mahour.

Another video: this time setarist, Kiya Tabassian explains different aspects of the Persian Setar (and Shoorangiz at the end)

The following illustration shows different parts of a Setar with their names.
setar structure with name of parts
Here is a little glossary of with Persian equivalents:
Tuning pegs : Gushee / Gooshi
Nut : Sheytanak (pronounced Shaytawnak)
Fret : Pardeh
Neck : Dasteh
Sound box : Kasseh
Bridge : Kharak
Sound board : Safheh
Tailpiece : Simgir / Simgeer
A Setar normally has 25 frets which cover a scale of one and a half octave while the instrument itself covers two and a half octaves (with the us of the other strings). Some Setar player or Setar makers add more frets up to 27 or plus. (for more information on frets and their positions please refer to our online Setar tuner)
More detailed images :
The tailpiece (made of boxwood) on the sound box
setar structure : tailpiece
The ribs of the Soundbox (mulberry wood)
Setar structure : ribs of the soundbox
Detail of the sound board. Sound board quality is crucial for the quality of the Setar, much more than the sound box. It is always made of mulberry wood for its acoustic capacities but also its resistance against the pressure of the strings, the bridge and the right hand (even though the hand is positioned very lightly).
Setar structure : detail of the sound board
Detail from the bottom side : Sound box, bridge, sound board, tailpiece. Like the tailpiece, the bridge of the Setar is usually made of boxwood and is 5 to 6 mm tall.
Setar structure : bridge
Detail of Setar's head, with tuning pegs and nut.
Setar structure
Last Updated on Monday, 16 September 2013 20:14