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Kioomars Musayyebi, Iranian santur player, at the Essen.Original. 2015

The (more rarely: the or that ) Santur ( Arabic سنطور, DMG sanṭūr , Persian سنتور, DMG santūr ) is related to the Psaltery and has the shape of an isosceles trapezoid. The instrument is played in Iraqi classical music (al-maqām al-'irāqī) and in Persian music , but also in Kashmir (sūfiyāna kalām) and from there in Indian art music. The name is derived from the ancient Greek psalterion (psalterium) and got through the Aramaic psantrīn into the Arabic sanṭīr / sanṭūr and Persian santūr . It belongs to a family of instruments that is widespread from Western Europe ( dulcimer ) across the Middle East to China ( Yang Qin ).


The pegs of the Santoor are attached to the sides of the trapezoidal resonance box with 72 metal strings . For each tone there are generally four steel strings ("melody strings", Persian سيم هاى سفيد, DMG sīm-hā-ye sefīd , "white strings") or brass ("bass strings", Persian سيم هاى زرد, DMG sīm-hā-ye zard , "yellow strings"), which run via incised grooves on the side edges of the instrument from the tuning pegs over the individual bridges to the tailpiece. This makes it possible to retune individual notes for the mode to be played. The santur , which today has a pitch of three octaves, is played with light wooden mallets (called meżrāb , usually made of boxwood or oak), which can be covered with velvet or felt to create a softer tone.

In India it was only introduced into the art music of northern India in the 20th century and originally comes from the Persian-influenced music of Kashmir . This variant of the Santoor has 15 bridges and choirs on each side. In contrast to other types of dulcimer, the strings are only played on one side of the bridge. So the instrument has 30 tones. These are mostly tuned diatonic in the chosen raga . The most important Indian santur player is Shiv Kumar Sharma (* 1938).

The santoor is played in an ensemble or as a soloist. In Iraq as in Iran it is an important instrument in classical art music. It is a very intimate tradition of chamber music.

Further development by Kourosh Zolani and Mohssen Behrad to the Santour-7-Dastgah

Santour-7-Dastgah developed by Kourosh Zolani and Mohssen Behrad

Kourosh Zolani is a santur player and composer. He invented new designs that enable new moods. Through its development, the instrument went from a diatonic to a chromatic instrument. This further development enabled Zolani to integrate the santur into a symphony orchestra and connect it with European musical culture.

The instrument was further developed by Mohssen Behrad. Behrad revolutionized the tuning mechanism of the Santoor. In the traditional design, the Santoor is tuned with pegs, is easily out of tune and has to be readjusted frequently. The retuning into another key takes about 15 minutes, so that musicians usually only perform pieces in one dastgah at a performance. With the new design, the strings are hung with a special screw connection and tuned with a screw mechanism. The mood achieved in this way is very stable and only little needs to be adjusted. In addition, the instrument has small levers to the right and left of the resonance box, which can continuously change the pitch of the strings by a quarter tone or semitone. In this way, the instrument can be switched to a different key or Dastgah in a few seconds . This design now bears the name Santour-7-Dastgah and is protected by patents in various countries.

Representation of a santur player

Some Santoor players

  • Mohammed Sādeq Khān, known as Soror-ol Molk, director of the court orchestra of Nāser ad-Din Schāh (r. 1848-1896). Somā´ Hozur, one of the earliest sound recordings of the Santoor in Iran, was one of his students.
  • Habib Somā´i (1905–1946), son of Somā´ Hozur, made the hitherto little known instrument popular on national radio.
  • Abol Hasan Saba (1902–1957), composer and founder of the modern Santoor school
  • Hossein (Hoseyn) Malek (1925–1999)
  • Reza Varzandeh (1926-1979)
  • Dariush Safvat , also Dariouche Safvate (1928-2013)
  • Farāmarz Pāyvar (1933-2009)
  • Mansur Sarami (1934–1999)
  • Majid Kiani (* 1941), student of Nur-Ali Borumand , among others
  • Parviz Meshkatian (1955-2009)
  • Alireza Mortazavi (* 1976)
  • Pouya Saraei (* 1983)

See also



  • Paul M. Gifford: The Hammered Dulcimer - A History. Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland 2001, ISBN 0810839431 , Chapter 4: The Santur , pp. 45-63, limited preview in Google Book Search

Santoor and Persian music

  • Jean During, Scheherazade Qassim Hassan, Alastair Dick: Santur. In: Grove Music Online , 2001
  • Jean During, Zia Mirabdolbaghi, Dariush Safvat: The Art of Persian Music . Mage Publishers, Washington DC 1991, ISBN 0-934211-22-1 , pp. 43, 138-142 and 222-227.
  • Nasser Kanani: Traditional Persian art music: history, musical instruments, structure, execution, characteristics. 2nd revised and expanded edition, Gardoon Verlag, Berlin 2012, pp. 173–176.
  • Mehdi Setayeschgar: Wizhegi-e Santur dar Mussiqi-e Sonnati-e Iran. ('The meaning of the santoor in traditional Persian art music'), Tehran 1985.
  • Eckart Wilkens: Artists and amateurs in the Persian santur game. Studies on creative ability in Iranian music. Cologne Contributions to Music Research , Volume 45, Gustav Bosse, Regensburg 1967.

Web links

Commons : Santur  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. in the original script: سنطير -> سنطور -> سنتور
  2. This applies to the " santur with nine bridges" (pers. Santūr-e noh-ḫarakī ), which is common today , which means that the "melody" and "bass" strings are each led over nine individual bridges.
  3. There are traditionally individual instruments with only three strings per string choir .
  4. For the one- and two-stroke octaves.
  5. The individual bridges divide the melody strings - with certain mode-related exceptions - in an octave ratio of 2: 1, whereas the bridges of the bass strings have a pure support function.
  6. Nasser Kanani: The Persian Art Music. History, instruments, structure, execution, characteristics (Mussighi'e assil'e irani). Friends of Iranian Art and Traditional Music, Berlin 1978, p. 22 f.
  7. ^ Paul M. Gifford: The Hammered Dulcimer - A History . Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland 2001, ISBN 0-8108-3943-1 , pp. 53 ( limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed May 11, 2019]).
  8. Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. Cultural India
  9. a b Santour - Santour 7 Dastgah. Retrieved July 11, 2018 .
  10. Jean During, Zia Mirabdolbaghi, 1991, p 160
  11. ^ Paul M. Gifford, 2001, p. 51
  12. Jean During, Zia Mirabdolbaghi (1991), pp 222-227.