Tag Archives: santur

Artist Profiles: Shiv Kumar Sharma

Shiv Kumar Sharma – Photo by Vince Goodsell

Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma is a household name in India. His influence has transcended the classical audience and contributed to a greater popularity of Indian classical music. He has single-handedly lifted the santoor, a folk instrument previously found only in the Valley of Kashmir, to full acceptance within the classical repertoire. Shiv Kumar Sharma gave his first public performance in Mumbay (Bombay) in 1955, recorded his first solo album in 1960 and has not looked back since.

The santoor, a trapezoid-shaped instrument of the dulcimer family, has 116 strings, which are hammered with a pair of carved wooden sticks. Its original Sanskrit name was shatatantri vina (lute of a hundred strings). Similar instruments are found throughout Europe, the Middle East, and as far east as China. In Kashmir, santoor accompanied the regional music Sufiana Mausiqi, of Sufi origins.

Shiv Kumar Sharma was born in Jammu, in the state of Kashmir, on January 13, 1938. Training as a vocalist from age 5, followed by further training in percussion on tabla, led to other instruments – the sarod, violin, and harmonium – under the tutelage of his father and guru, Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma. Shiv Kumar took up the santoor at the age of 14, encouraged by his father, who had researched the instrument and recognized its potential as a classical instrument. Shiv Kumar started modifying the santoor to make it more suitable for his individual playing technique. By increasing the number of bridges to get a wider range of octaves and a smoother meend (the gliding action between two musical notes), Shiv Kumar successfully altered the structural configuration of the strings to make intonation more precise, elevating the santoor to an instrument of classical sophistication.

In the past three decades, Shiv Kumar Sharma has established a lineage of disciples, including his son, Rahul, who plays jugalbandi (duet) with his father. Together, father and son are helping to widen the popularity and further enhance the accessibility of this melodious instrument.

Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma released his memoirs, Journey with a Hundred Strings: My Life in Music, published in India.


Santoor & Guitar, with Brij Bhushan Kabra (1964)
Shivkumar Sharma (1967) – (re-released 2005 as “First LP Record of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma”)
Call of the Valley, with Brij Bhushan Kabra and Hariprasad Chaurasia (1967)
…When Time Stood Still!, with Zakir Hussain (Live in Bombay) (1982)
Rag Madhuvanti & Rag Misra Tilang, with Zakir Hussain (1987)
Hypnotic Santoor (1988)
Maestro’s Choice, Series One (1991)
A Sublime Trance (1991)
The Glory of Strings (1991)
Raga Purya Kalyan, with Zakir Hussain (1991)
Rag Rageshri, with Zakir Hussain (1993)
Raga Bhopali, vol. I (1993)
Raga Kedari, vol. II (1993)
Varsha – A Homage to the Rain Gods (1993)
Sound Scapes, Music of the Mountains (1994)
Hundred Strings of Santoor (1994)
The Pioneer of Santoor (1994)
Raag Bilaskhani Todi (1994)
A Morning Raga Gurjari Todi (1994)
Feelings (1994)
The Valley Recalls – In Search of Peace, Love & Harmony, with Hariprasad Chaurasia (1996)
The Valley Recalls – Raga Bhoopali, with Hariprasad Chaurasia (1996)
Yugal Bandi, with Hariprasad Chaurasia (1996)
Maestro’s Choice, Series Two (1999)
Sampradaya (Real World, 1999)
Rasdhara, with Hariprasad Chaurasia (Navras, 1999)
Ananda Bliss, with Zakir Hussain (2002)
The Flow of Time, with Zakir Hussain (2002)
Sangeet Sartaj (2002)
Vibrant Music for Reiki (2003)
Sympatico (Charukeshi – Santoor)(2004)
The Inner Path (Kirvani – Santoor) (2004)
Essential Evening Chants, with Hariprasad Chaurasia (2007)
The Last Word in Santoor (Music Today, 2011)
Generations (A Melange of Classical and Contemporary Music Styles), with Rahul Sharma (Times Music)


Artist Profiles: Tarun Bhattacharya

Tarun Bhattacharya

Pandit Tarun Bhattacharya was born December 23, 1957. He is one of India’s finest performers on the santur. As a child he began training on the instrument with his father, Sri Robi Bhattacharya, and also with Sri Dulal Roy. Tarun was under the tutelage of the renowned sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.

Tarun regularly performs in concert and at music festival in Europe, North America, the Far East and, of course, throughout India. He is a regular performer on All India Radio, and has recorded with Indian, European and American record labels.


Song of Nature, Flame of the Forest (1992)
Essence of Jugalbandi (1993)
Sargam (Music of the World, 1995)
Rags Gujari Todi & Bhairavi (India Archives, 1995)
Kirvani (Music of the World, 1996)
Mental Bliss (1998)
Nomad Christmas (Music of the World)
Hypnotic Santoor (2001)
Raga Basant Mukhari / Mishra Todi (India Archives, 2002)
Transcendence (2005)
Natural (Sense World Music, 2007)
Aahir Bhairav & Gurjari Todi (Questz World, 2009)
The Exotic Santoor (Aimrec, 2010)
Shades of the Santoor (Aimrec, 2012)
Inner Vision (Aimrec, 2015)
Afro-Indian Project (ARC Music, 2017)
North India – Sangeet Trio en concert (Ocora)


Artist Profiles: Rahul Sharma

Rahul Sharma

Although not formally introduced to the santoor [also known as santur] until 1985, when he was 12 years old, Rahul Sharma had already demonstrated his talent by playing and composing on the harmonium, and on a cheap keyboard that his dad had brought back from Japan.

In Rahul’s apprentice years as a musician, his father, Shiv Kumar Sharma, had accompanied him on tabla, bringing heightened awareness of taal (rhythm cycle) to his playing. By 1996, Rahul was performing “proper concerts” and has since recorded solo and in jugalbandi (duet) concerts with his father.

In September 2000, Rahul Sharma performed a special concert with tabla player Ustad Shafat Ahmed Khan and pakhawaj player / percussionist Pandit Bhawani Shankar in Turin (Italy) under the title Music Of The Himalayas. It was recorded and released by Real World Records.


The Golden Heritage (Navras, 1997)
Beyond 100 Strings (Ninaad, 1999)
Sweet Romance (Navras, 1999)
Indian Classical Maestros Vol. 4 Santoor (Virgin Records India, 2001)
Moonlight Magic (Navras, 2001)
Two Generations: Santoor Duet Live (Chhanda Dhara. 2001)
The Confluence – Santoor & Piano, with Richard Clayderman (Virgin Records India, 2002)
Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (Saregama, 2002)
Music Of The Himalayas (Real World Records, 2002)
Zen (Navras, 2002)
Dawn Blues (FreeSpirit Entertainment, 2002)
In Hope For Peace (Rhyme Records, 2003)
Native Signs (Sense World Music, 2004)
Akaash (Sense World Music, 2004)
Time Traveler – The New Age Santoor Journey Beyond Time (Saregama, 2006)
H2O (Music Today, 2006)
Charukeshi Live In San Francisco (Saregama, 2010)
White album (Times Music, 2011)
Deep India (Sony Music, 2013)


Fascinating Ud and Santur Encounters

Rahim AlHaj Trio – One Sky (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2018)

Ud virtuoso Rahim AlHaj presents a new set of works in trio format. His colleagues include Iranian santur master Sourena Sefati and Palestinian-American percussionist Issa Malluf.

The majority of the musical are compositions by Rahim AlHaj inspired by folk and classical Arabic music plus one from Sourena Sefati. The CD booklet in English and Arabic provides extensive details about each piece.

On One Sky, Rahim AlHaj and Sourena Sefati showcase their talent with dazzling solos and fascinating ud-santur interplay, supported by Issa Malluf’s reliable hand percussion.

Buy One Sky


Santur Soul

Renzo Ruggiero – Alma (Phenix 001, 2017)

Alma is the new album by Italian santur virtuoso Renzo Ruggiero. Alma is a beautifully-crafted work featuring spirited world music instrumental pieces rooted in Mediterranean, Spanish and Middle Eastern melodies along with dreamy slow tempo, trance-like pieces. All the compositions are originals by Ruggiero except for a 12th century song and a Gurdieff-De Hartmann piece.

Ruggiero currently lives in Toledo, the ancient city in central Spain, not far from Madrid, that has become a home to many artists. An international cast of talented instrumentalists join Ruggiero on the album.

The lineup on Alma includes Renzo Ruggiero on santur, acoustic bass guitar, vocals, nyckelharpa, steel tongue drums, percussion, sound design; Javier Paxariño (Spain) on saxello and bansuri; Hames Bitar (Syria) on oud; Susana Shiava (Spain) on Tibetan singing bowls; and Anna Sato (Japan); Amable Rodríguez (Spain) on guitar; and Michele Carreca (Italy) on guitar and theorbo.



Alma is a mesmerizing work that showcases the talent and versatility of Renzo Ruggiero and his multi-faceted santur.

Buy the digital download version of Alma or get the CD from https://beloud.co/shop/en/renzoruggiero.


Artist Profiles: Hamid Reza Taqavi

Hamid Reza Taqavi, born in 1976 in Iranian Azerbaijan, began playing santur at the age of 11 under the direction of Ibrahim Safari and continued his studies with Master Parviz Meshkatian and renowned santur player Ardavan Kamkar. In addition to Persian traditional music, he is also versed in modern music techniques. He joined the Shams Ensemble in 2001.