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Unveiling the Melodic Mysteries: Mastering Santoor's Tuning and Techniques (Part -2)

Title: Mastering Santoor: Exploring Different Tunings and Playing Techniques


Namaste music enthusiasts! Welcome to my blog. I'm Ashwin Walawalkar, a santoor artist, and today we're going to dive into the world of santoor tuning and playing techniques. Whether you're a beginner or an intermediate learner, this blog will provide you with valuable insights into two different ways of tuning the santoor: diatonic tuning (Raga based tuning) and chromatic tuning. Additionally, we'll explore the specific techniques required to play different notes and scales on the santoor. So, let's get started on this musical journey!

Diatonic Tuning: Exploring Raga-based Tuning

In diatonic tuning, also known as Raga-based tuning, we tune the santoor to specific ragas. However, in this blog, we'll primarily focus on understanding the chromatic tuning. But don't worry, we'll cover diatonic tuning in future blogs!

Chromatic Tuning: Unleashing the Full Range of Notes

Chromatic tuning requires us to tune the santoor in alignment with instruments like the piano, harmonium, or keyboard. When we tune chromatically, we assign different notes to specific bridges on the santoor.

On the right side bridges, we tune the natural or shuddha notes. For example, if we tune the SA note, the flat or komal RE will be on the left side, and the natural RE will be on the right side. This way, the chromatic tuning allows us to access all the flats and sharps on the left side and the natural notes on the right side of the santoor.

Playing Techniques in Chromatic Style

When playing in the chromatic style, we'll notice that all the natural notes are situated on the right side bridges. To play the sargam (sa re ga ma pa da ni sa) or any other sequence of natural notes, we use our right hand to strike the corresponding strings on the right side of the santoor.

However, for the notes Shadja (sa), Pancham (pa), and upper Shadja (thara shapta shadjam), we utilize our left hand. The remaining notes are played with the right hand.

Mastering the Ascending and Descending Order

To help you understand the playing technique, let's practice the natural scale in both ascending and descending order.

Ascending Order:

Using your right hand, strike the strings for sa, re, ga, ma, pa, da, ni, sa. Repeat this sequence to reinforce your learning.

Descending Order:

For the descending order, maintain the same hand position. Play sa, ni, da, pa, ma, ga, re, sa. Again, repetition is key to mastering this sequence.


Congratulations! You've taken your first steps towards mastering the santoor. In this blog, we explored the two different ways of tuning the santoor, with a focus on chromatic tuning. We also learned the specific techniques required to play the natural notes and scales on the santoor. Remember, practice is essential for progress, so keep honing your skills.

For more insightful videos and learning resources, I invite you to subscribe to our channel. Don't forget to hit the bell icon to stay updated with our latest uploads. Happy practicing, and stay tuned for more exciting content on mastering the santoor!

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