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Sitar - drone for life

flume

Double Platinum Member
Messages
6,870
This can't be a new question - but a quick search yielded little. Has anyone here tried to learn sitar? Online resources seem shaky too. Any tips are appreciated for starting points on what I'm sure will be a long and drone filled journey.
 

Frater B

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,678
There are some instructional tapes out there.
If you are serious you need to find a local teacher.
Look into the local Indian Classical Music and Dance society
if there is one.......I found a couple in my area.
I will say I have the tabla tapes by Batish. It is good,
but I did end up going to a local teacher for a few lessons.

Ashwin Batish has a sitar instructional dvd out as well.
You should get a decent sitar too.
Last thing you want is a cheap sitar that will not stay in tune!

__
 
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KRosser

Member
Messages
14,081
I took a couple sitar lessons from Paul Livingston, ex-of Cal Arts. He was a former student of Ravi Shankar's.

Obviously, a very deep tradition one could spend a few lifetimes absorbing...

There are more books and videos coming out these days devoted to this stuff, so a little bit of exploring should turn up a few gems.

The sitar doesn't drone, though - that's the tambura's/tanpura's job....
 

908SSP

Member
Messages
5,800
Took lessons 30 years ago. It is a whole new language. You can of course learn to play some western style but learning it as an Indian would be a huge undertaking. I think most Indian musicians are born in musical families and listen to nothing but from the time they are born. Plus I was told they all study singing first and only later move to an instrument.
 
Messages
7,046
I took a couple sitar lessons from Paul Livingston, ex-of Cal Arts. He was a former student of Ravi Shankar's.
I took some lessons with Paul too in the late '90s, when he was at CAL Arts. It was really helpful to me. I had taught myself some of the preliminary exercises from RS's book beforehand, then Paul gave me corrections and a whole bunch of new exercises. Enough material to last......we'll suffice to say I'm still working on it. I still have the tapes from the lessons.

I just got back into playing this year. I've been using sitar in some local Kirtans, where the music isn't technically so demanding. I also started learn some of the simplest compositions from some DVDs.

The training (for ICM) is as rigorous as anything you can imagine. Kind of like a jazz training and classical training rolled into one. It's a glorious musical tradition.....

----

Radhey Gupta has a couple of self-produced DVDs that are good in concept, but the image quality is choppy. Still way better than nothing. He does explain things well.

There is a very good forum worth visiting:
http://www.chandrakantha.com/
 

SnidelyWhiplash

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,269
I doubt most western musicians have the discipline or the patience for
learning East Indian music. The time structures are so alien to 4/4 to
the bar.
 
Messages
7,046
I doubt most western musicians have the discipline or the patience for
learning East Indian music. The time structures are so alien to 4/4 to
the bar.
Some are, but teen tal is the most common tal, as a sixteen beat cycle it's not that different in concept from our rhythmic designs. I know some basic compositions that in a western sense sound like 4 or 8 bar folk songs.

When you have modern tals that have 8 3/4 beats, sure.....
 
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highrise

Senior Member
Messages
3,840
I play.

Poorly.



My suggestion...play with metal picks and don't mind what anyone else does. Don't screw with the fret positions, leave em. Learn to tune it...

Then jam.
 
Messages
7,046
If you mean leaving them in a western major scale, that's good advice. But chances are you can adjust them for better tuning/intonation. I have decent instrument and the frets certainly needed fine tuning/adjustment when I got the instrument from the store....
 

highrise

Senior Member
Messages
3,840
I'm sure someone could adjust the frets for better tuning/intonation...

...but that person isn't me. And I don't think they live close, either.


I tune it, but I must assume any whackedout intonation issues are inherent in the music. If you know of a good Sitar repair shop in Arkansas, let me know. :D







 

KRosser

Member
Messages
14,081
I'm sure someone could adjust the frets for better tuning/intonation...

...but that person isn't me. And I don't think they live close, either.


I tune it, but I must assume any whackedout intonation issues are inherent in the music. If you know of a good Sitar repair shop in Arkansas, let me know. :D
Keep in mind, on the sitar the only string you regularly fret is the highest, the one in the middle of the neck. The others are almost always played open only.

Adjusting the intonation on that should be pretty easy since the frets are movable, but the Indians do hear certain intervals differently than we do.
 

highrise

Senior Member
Messages
3,840
Keep in mind, on the sitar the only string you regularly fret is the highest, the one in the middle of the neck. The others are almost always played open only.

Adjusting the intonation on that should be pretty easy since the frets are movable, but the Indians do hear certain intervals differently than we do.

Yep.


No doubt I could move the frets...I'm just positive it wouldn't be for the better.


It's funny...about the foreign microtonal music with goofy-ass 12/7 timing...it sure sounds strange to us...but if you grow up with it, you can hum along and tap your feet and everything.


I saw Ravi and daughter Anoushka several years ago. I've seen Anoushka twice now...she's amazing. I think she may have surpassed her dad with those chops. Blindingly fast...and accurate.
 

KRosser

Member
Messages
14,081
I saw Ravi and daughter Anoushka several years ago. I've seen Anoushka twice now...she's amazing. I think she may have surpassed her dad with those chops. Blindingly fast...and accurate.
Anoushka is wonderful, a really great musician - so masterful in her Dad's tradition, educated in Western music and open to anything. She's still so young, I think we have many decades of really interesting work to look forward to from her.
 

indravayu

Senior Member
Messages
1,715
Now I'm GASing for a Sitar again - thanks a lot, guys! :)

I saw Ravi and Anoushka in Portland, OR the mid '90's - what a great performance! A friend of mine has a sitar and I have tried playing it a few times, but am totally lost on it - even tuning the damn thing is a major undertaking! I do love the instrument, though, and would love own a quality one to noodle around on (I could never hope to attain any serious skills on it - I'm way too old now to learn new tricks).
 
Messages
7,046
I've had off and on GAS pains. My instrument is the Epiphone of the sitar world. Good enough and probably more instrument than I need. But I can dare to dream....

You can get world class concert instruments for $2000, which isn't bad.
 
Messages
7,046
Anoushka is wonderful, a really great musician - so masterful in her Dad's tradition, educated in Western music and open to anything. She's still so young, I think we have many decades of really interesting work to look forward to from her.
Sure do...will be interesting to watch her career unfold.
 
Messages
7,046
Keep in mind, on the sitar the only string you regularly fret is the highest, the one in the middle of the neck. The others are almost always played open only.

Adjusting the intonation on that should be pretty easy since the frets are movable, but the Indians do hear certain intervals differently than we do.

Yes...


So tune your chikari strings carefully, and then tune you open Ma string. Then you can start to tune fret by fret, using your ear, by constantly referring back to the chikari (or drone CD if you have one). You can tune each degree to a pure sounding interval. I don't have the technical skill to describe my tuning. I suppose it's just intonation. I go for what I think are most in tune. The result is better sounding than what you'd get on a western fretted intrument, at least if you put some time into it.
 

highrise

Senior Member
Messages
3,840
I've had off and on GAS pains. My instrument is the Epiphone of the sitar world. Good enough and probably more instrument than I need. But I can dare to dream....

You can get world class concert instruments for $2000, which isn't bad.

I don't doubt mine is the 'Squier' version....

...except I've played some MIGHTY FINE Squiers lately...


If we have any Sitar knowledgeable folks here, I'd love to ask some questions...
 




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