Stephan’s vehicle for this musical journey, the sitar, is one of the few instruments capable of playing shrutis in the proper intonation for this complex musical form. Its construction and technique embodies more than two and a half centuries of synthesis between West Asian and South Asian musical cultures. The type of sitar that Stephan plays is distinguished by the inclusion of two low-pitched “bass strings.” Their use, especially during the most still and introspective moments of performance, reveals the legacy of another, more ancient Indian musical instrument, the bin. The bin (a stick-zither), although structurally distinct from the sitar (a lute), is one of the instruments from which sitar makers and players increasingly borrowed over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Ravi Shankar or Kharaj Pancham Sitar
Vilayat Khan or Ghandar Pancham Sitar
Gourds for Sitars and Tambouras
Logs of Tunwood aka Red Cedar just cut and ready for drying
The Gulu, the block of wood which joins thw neck of the sitar to the main resonating gourd.
Carving of decorations
Scraping the final finish off of the decorative pickguard
Artisan using a bow drill at the shop od Radha Krishna Sharma in Kolkata
Matched pair of female tambouras ready for finishing