Santur, and ancient instrument from the percussion family, was very common in old kingdom. The common wood in use was aged walnut or black rosewood, depends on the desired sound. Before the Arrived to Persia, the instrument was common in ‘Ashur’ which is today around north Syria. During the occupation, became the Santur to an central asian instrument. As many other instruments, the Santur roamed to many other countries, and got special and unique shape for every different region. Today you clearly see the differences between the Armenian, Romanian, Turkish and Indian versions. In the middle ages the Santur starts to appear in the west. It is nowdays common to see it in american folk music, where its named “Hammered Dulcimer”. From those arias arrived the Santur to Israel as well, and is mentioned in the book of “Daniel” as ‘Psanterin’, an instrument that is used for sacred chanting. It is belived that Nevuchadnetzar the king of Babylon, fell in love with the reach sounds, and adopted the instrument to his yard. But only in the glory days Koresh, the king of Persia, that it was spreaded literally all over Asia. The source of the name Santur is: 100 strings, or many strings, in old Farsi.
The santur is tuned by turning metal pegs on the side wooden board of the instrument. The santur is usually tuned to the Dastgah (scale) of the song being played. If in one song is more than one Dastgah in use, the player will have to retune the santur. This can be done either by changing the location of the small bridges (‘Kharak’) weather by tuning from the peg box.
Santur players are famous for recognizing notes extremely precisely, as the tuning of the instrument is done by hearing solely. To produce sound, the player hits the strings with 2 wooden sticks. The sticks – Mazrabs in Farsi – are hand carved from olive wood. The edge of the Mezrab is wrapped with cotton or felt to soften the sound. This can change according the style.