• RHYTHMITICA international online Persian music lessons
  • 11
  • May
  • 2016

How to play Setar

How to play Setar

Learning how to play Setar

Tuning Each of the four string of setar can be tuned by GOOSHI provided at the end of the stick. The basic note for Tar Setar’s tune is usually Do (C) on the first string and the rest is tuned in accordance with the first string 


Setar learning

 The note Do in Setar is the middle C in the piano. Do in Iranian music is half fret which is in classical music and is also equal to Cb in Diapason. Since the instrument sound might disturb the player’s ears, the basic note of La is used to tune the first string for practice. Another reason of using La is the loose quality of the string. As a result of it, the strings durability increases. At the same time, it becomes easier to put fingers on the strings and perform techniques like pick on it. Particular tune is usually considered for each Dastgah. However player’s emotion and songs theme might differ depending on each Dastgah, system.


Setar learning

 Changing tune in each Dastgah and Avaz in Persian music leads to a change in mood and state of songs, it could be possible to other Dastgah and Avaz through using various kinds of Dastgah and Avaz tune.Different kinds of winding Naming strings for tuning is arbitrary that is to say it is not necessary for strings tune to be equal with diapason. For instance, if respectively the first is supposed to be tuned on Do note and the second string on Sol note, it could be possible to tune each a fret below. For both strings and tune the first string is on Cb and the second one is on Fa note respectively. In Iranian traditional music, it is likely to implement each Dastgah with different tuning. Here the most common ones will be introduced. Because in Iranian traditional music Do note is lower than classical music for about one fret, Cb, Fa, Cb, Cb tunes are the same as, Do, Sol, Do, Do. In fact, naming this tune, so to speak Mahoor, as Do, Sol, Do, Do is to facilitate it for player’s and student’s performance so that they can understand 5-half-fret distance between the note which is used in the first and second string . Homayoon Tune The tune used for Homayoon Dastgah is exactly the same as the tune which is used in Abuata Avaz. This tune for Setar is also used for playing Avaz Bayat Esfehan . 




 Mahoor Tune Setar tune in Mahoor Dastgah has been known as the base . And  Setar has its most acoustic width in this tune. Right hand in Setar plays the role of pick so devoting attention to putting the hand correctly, the right way of using pick ,and the movement of fingers are of great importance. Approximately, the right hand is placed on the bowl of Setar from wrist .Remember while placing your hand on the bowl, there should not be any bending in the wrest and it should be put like a half- open fist on Setar in a way which small finger and thumb are located in two sides of strings. Index finger of the right hand plays the role pick. practice moving this finger on strings. Index finger cracks while returning must not be from the first knuckle and this should be done on the second knuckle of index finger. (Provided that index finger moves more openly and its cracking is on the second knuckle, the voice of playing pick would be much stronger and more pleasant). Middle finger also moves with the forefinger at the same time. Some put this finger on the bowl of the Setar steadily whereas others move it freely with index finger and the pick. It is recommended to pay attention to the ease of the hand. Ring finger with little finger would be placed on the bowl. Putting right hand correctly, playing pick properly and being careful about above mentioned points lead to creating clear and pleasant sound in the instrument. Left hand This hand would be gradually trained also by being careful and regarding instructed points and further practice which lead to improvement of hand’s speed, technique, playing clearly and properly. For this, you must, at first, put stick in the third knuckle between index finger and palm. Thumb would touch the back of the stick. Other fingers also are placed in the same order under the index finger. Knowing how to crack knuckles is of great importance. Be careful not to open your hand from elbow and forearm excessively while holding the stick. In addition, it shouldn’t be too close to your body . Also in the wrist. there shouldn’t be any kind of crack from the area of forearm to wrist there shouldn’t be any angle and it should be directly placed on the stick. Contrary to Tar, in Setar keeping balance and holding the instrument is the duty of the left hand. This hand has duty of moving on frets in addition to undergoing a part of instrument’s weight. Avoid purchasing instrument with heavy stick. Additionally, placing finger so loosely leads to make unclear and unpleasant voice.


 Principle of handing setar is generally the same. However, there are a few differences, depending on prominent players physical taste in steep of stick, the way the instrument is placed on the thigh and the way pick is used to play. At the beginning, it is recommended to consider the common principles for learning how to play the instrument, but the principles could be changed in future according to personal taste.   Instructing how to play Setar Proper sitting position The way of sitting and taking the instrument in the right way is one of the most important points which if neglected, may lead to physical problems for the players. It is widely seen that some learners face some problems or go through a pain in their hand or wrist because of not devoting enough attention to their first position and the way of sitting rightfully. because sitting properly is necessary while practicing Setar as well as the way of taking the instrument and playing the pick simultaneously.



 The first step in instructing Setar is the way of sitting properly at the time of practicing. It is recommended to sit on a chair with right height while practicing. Avoid bending toward and over leaning on the back. The best position is when back is in the vertical condition. As the instrument is placed on right thigh, In order to play confortably, the right thigh should be in higher level compared to the left thigh. For this, you can put the right thigh on the left one or use a particular step so that you can play better. Neck and head also should be in the same level of backbone. Also, avoid over no space bending to read the notes. You should use a special tool named Popitr in order to practice in a proper height especially when you tend to practice for a long time. This tool is adjustable in different height and it also prevents extra movements of head and neck by due to easier note reading.



Please visit Rhythmitica online Setar lessons page.  

Have a Comment ?

  • Sign Up To Have Your Say
  • Disscution