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The word sitar is derived from the Persian word sehtar, meaning “three-stringed.” The instrument appears to have descended from long-necked lutes taken to India from Central Asia. The sitar flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries and arrived at its present form in the 18th century. Today it is the dominant instrument in Hindustani music; it is used as a solo instrument with tambura (drone-lute) and tabla (drums) and in ensembles, as well as for northern Indian kathak (dance-dramas). Two modern schools of sitar playing in India are the Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan schools, each with its own playing style, type of sitar (varying in size, shape, number of strings, etc.), and tuning system.

In the 1960s the sounds of South Asian instruments, especially the sitar, influenced a number of rock performers. George Harrison, the lead guitarist of the Beatles, studied the sitar and played the instrument on several songs, beginning with “Norwegian Wood” (1965).


The Perambalam house, which is located in a small town in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was seldom a silent place – learning, rehearsing, improvising is what you hear in that house. Brentha Perambalam,  was born in that house to Perambalam Arumugam and Anchana Devi Perambalam.