What is The difference between Tar and setar?

The Resonating Strings: Differences between Tar and Setar

Music, a universal language of emotional expression, has been instrumental in binding cultures and communities together since ancient times. In this context, two significant musical instruments originating from Persia (modern-day Iran) – the Tar and the Setar – have a unique standing. They not only reflect the rich cultural tapestry of the region but also underscore the deep intrinsic connection between sound, spirituality, and human sentiment. This essay aims to delineate the differences between the Tar and Setar, in terms of their structural and sonic characteristics. Further, we shall delve into the process of procuring these instruments from Delaramm.com.

Historical and Cultural Background

Tar Artists

The Tar and the Setar are both plucked string instruments of Persian origin, their names literally meaning ‘string’ in Farsi. The Tar, attributed to the 18th Century, was often associated with the royal court and professional musicians, owing to its robust, balanced sound. The Setar, on the other hand, traced back to the 7th Century, is linked more with spiritual traditions and Sufi mysticism, producing a subtler, more introspective tone.

Structural Dissimilarities

The Tar: Double Chest of Resonance

The Tar, often described as the ‘Sultan of Instruments’, boasts a double-chest resonance box crafted from mulberry wood, covered by a thin membrane of stretched lamb intestine. It typically possesses six strings, arranged in a dual-triplet setting, and played with a brass plectrum.

The Setar: Simplicity and Sophistication

The Setar, in contrast, is more austere. It has a single resonance box, also typically made from mulberry wood, with a stretched membrane like the Tar. The traditional Setar had only three strings, hence its name, “Se” (three) “Tar” (string). However, the modern Setar often includes a fourth string, introduced to diversify its range and tonality.

Sonic Characteristics: Tonal Divergence

The structural differences outlined above play a significant role in the tonal output of these two instruments. The Tar, with its double-chest resonator and six strings, produces a broader, more resonant sound suitable for large gatherings and courtly music. The Setar, conversely, offers a softer, more intimate tone, perfect for personal spiritual practice or small, contemplative audiences.

tar vs setar

Evolving Traditions: The Morphology of Tar and Setar

The Reimagining of the Tar

While the Tar’s foundational design has largely remained consistent, creative innovations have emerged over time. Some contemporary musicians prefer Tar with different types of wood or synthetic materials for the soundbox or choose to alter the number of strings to modify the range and sonic output. Such transformations have spawned a host of Tar sub-varieties, each with a distinct personality, yet all are bound by their deep-rooted connection to the original form.

The Setar’s Quiet Revolution

In parallel, the Setar too, has undergone a quiet but significant evolution. The traditional three-stringed Setar has often been transformed into a four-stringed version, unlocking new avenues of tonality. Some musicians have even experimented with five or six strings. From the Sufi meditation tool of yore, the Setar has thus journeyed to become an expressive platform for musical innovation, still retaining its distinct soothing undertones.

Expanding Horizons: The Tar and Setar Beyond Borders

While the Tar and Setar are quintessentially Persian, their appeal has transcended national boundaries. They’ve made appearances in various international music genres, from world fusion to progressive rock and from orchestral compositions to avant-garde experimental pieces. Global musicians have discovered the unique tonal qualities of these instruments, integrating them into a wide spectrum of musical expressions. This global embrace has amplified the cultural significance of the Tar and Setar, underscoring their potential to be universal bridges of musical communication.

persian tar in orchestra

Learning the Craft: Mastering the Tar and Setar

While having a Tar or Setar in possession is the first step, mastering these instruments requires time, patience, and the right guidance. Both these instruments have unique playing techniques with specific fingering and plucking methods.

Finding a Mentor

The traditional way of learning involves finding a skilled mentor who can guide the learner in both the technical and interpretative aspects of playing these instruments. Many music schools and conservatories around the world, particularly in areas with significant Iranian diaspora, offer classes in Persian music where one can learn to play the Tar or Setar.

Procuring the Instruments: Delaramm.com

Accessing these traditional instruments, whilst preserving their authenticity, can be a daunting task, especially for non-residents of Iran. Thankfully, platforms like Delaramm.com offer a viable solution. This website is a trusted source for a wide variety of Persian instruments, including the Tar and Setar.

Delaramm: Authenticity at Your Doorstep

At Delaramm.com, each instrument is handcrafted by skilled artisans, promising high-quality sound and original designs. From beginner to professional level, each Tar and Setar is meticulously crafted to meet individual needs. They offer worldwide shipping, ensuring the spirit of Persian music reaches enthusiasts irrespective of geographical barriers.

How to Buy from Delaramm.com

The purchase process at Delaramm.com is designed for maximum user ease. Simply navigate to their site, choose the ‘instruments’ section, select your preferred instrument (Tar or Setar), explore the range of options, add your selected piece to the cart, and proceed to checkout. Their secure payment gateways assure safe transactions.


Conclusion: Two Instruments, One Cultural Heartbeat

Despite their differences, the Tar and Setar both resonate with the rhythm of Persian history and culture. They offer different auditory experiences, yet both enrich the listener’s soul. Whether you’re a musician seeking to broaden your repertoire or a connoisseur of world music, procuring these instruments from a trusted source like Delaramm.com could be your gateway to experiencing the profound essence of Persian musical tradition.