Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma
Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma has single-handedly brought forth the santoor from its Kashmiri folk moorings to the mainstream of Hindustani Classical music. Today none dare question the promininence accorded to the Santoor or its effectiveness in expressing Hindustani Classical music.
Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma was initiated into the Santoor at the age of 12 by his father and guru Pandit Umadutt Sharma. Despite his frustrations at the technical limitations of Santoor, especially the immense difficulty in creating meend and gamak, he persisted with it, even to the extent of modifying it to produce the quality of sound that he wished to hear. These modifications included reducing the strings on each bridge from 4 to 3, thereby reducing the resonance and improving clarity in the notes. The style of playing by placing the instrument in one’s lap was also started by Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. Other key modifications included increasing the number of bridges so as to create greater range and changing the strings to steel from the original brass.
These modifications and his relentless pursuit of perfection started to slowly win the classical audience to the santoor. By the 70s, santoor began to be accepted into the mainstream of Hindustani Classical music. Today, the Santoor’s popularity is evident in its presence at numerous concert and the immense popularity and respect accorded to Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma’s son Rahul Sharma is also a very promising Santoor player.
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