Thumb position

This is for discussions on the Indian sitar and surbahar, This includes films, books, and recordings

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themodestokid
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Thumb position

Postby themodestokid » Thu Dec 22, 2016 1:21 pm

Every video I see of a sitar player, they are holding their right thumb against the instrument's neck. I've tried this; but I find it much more natural to hold my thumb against the base of the mizrab. That way my whole right hand and wrist are moving as I pick and strum, rather than just my finger. Does anybody else play this way?

barend
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Re: Thumb position

Postby barend » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:03 am

themodestokid wrote: Does anybody else play this way?


Yes, guitar players! :D

themodestokid
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Re: Thumb position

Postby themodestokid » Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:37 pm

barend wrote:Yes, guitar players! :D

That's what I am...

mizrable
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Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:09 am

Re: Thumb position

Postby mizrable » Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:41 pm

think of the way electric bass is played with just fingers
that is what sitar is more akin to
we lead with our forefinger not our thumb to get the right bol ( right hand stroke)
look at Stanley Clarke and how he plants his thumb
my students that come from bass backgrounds tend to have an edge over guitarists for these 2 reasons:
1)they are used to playing in the upward direction
2)tough callouses!

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nicneufeld
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Re: Thumb position

Postby nicneufeld » Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:18 pm

I had a post yesterday that was rather long in response but a web issue killed it...

I and many other guitarists who picked up the sitar feel your pain, but basically, no, no actual classical sitarist plays that way. (that I know of) You could compare it slightly to the way a sarod player plays...more with the wrist, like a guitarist.

But the sitar right hand positioning is less wrist motion and more the opening and closing of the hand...not finger movement individually, but you open and close the hand together, like a hand wave. The thumb anchor is useful for a few reasons (these are more my opinions):

1. It constitutes a part of a multi-point anchoring system for holding the instrument...with your foot supporting underneath, your forearm on top, your knee potentially for support, and the thumb on top...very firm and secure control of the instrument.

2. Seeing that you are not looking down at your strings like on a guitar, and are behind the sitar, you are "playing blind" a bit. And the motion to play chikari and main string alternately (such as in a fast jhalla) would be very difficult to do cleanly and accurately if you are just free floating your hand there...the thumb anchor gives you a natural point of reference for where your chikari strings are and your main string.

It's a completely different technique from what guitarists are used to, but then, its a completely different instrument too! If you desire to learn Indian classical sitar, a good instructor is going to be very valuable in laying down a foundation of good posture and technique, if available...

trippymonkey
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Re: Thumb position

Postby trippymonkey » Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:56 pm

It's obviously a lazy guitarist who just wants to play a twangy guitar. :wink: :?

mizrable
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Re: Thumb position

Postby mizrable » Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:40 pm

unless your guru imparted you with psychic abilities to look into the souls of our forum members
there is no way to really tell what the intent of this gentlemans pursuits are. Judging him doesnt help our cause.
i wish him the best and hope more folks ask questions like this in the future.

StVitus
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Re: Thumb position

Postby StVitus » Sat Dec 24, 2016 12:09 am

I think you’ll run into problems later when you want to play quickly, accurately, and at an even volume.

themodestokid
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Re: Thumb position

Postby themodestokid » Sat Dec 24, 2016 7:52 pm

nicneufeld wrote:But the sitar right hand positioning is less wrist motion and more the opening and closing of the hand...not finger movement individually, but you open and close the hand together, like a hand wave.

Thanks nicneufeld! Just now I tried as you suggest opening and closing my full hand to pick -- this is a much different motion than what I was doing initially, until now when I've played with my thumb as an anchor, I haven't been moving my pinkie nearly as much as my index finger.

themodestokid
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Re: Thumb position

Postby themodestokid » Sat Dec 24, 2016 8:28 pm

This is definitely giving me more precision and power in the pick.

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Jojolefthishome
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Location: Toronto/Italy

Re: Thumb position

Postby Jojolefthishome » Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:27 pm

A good trick my guru used with me was having me place large rubber band around my four fingers so that they all move in unison. It's unnatural at first but after a few weeks I no longer needed it to have the correct motion.
Jay
"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain" -Bob Marley

desh
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Re: Thumb position

Postby desh » Sun Dec 25, 2016 6:20 pm

themodestokid wrote:Does anybody else play this way?


Oh yes, absolutely: https://youtu.be/9BcJaUYE5Jw?t=144

But seriously, without properly anchoring your thumb on the neck or your sitar you'll never be able to play something like this:

https://youtu.be/ddlo6UKM6go?t=28

trippymonkey
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Re: Thumb position

Postby trippymonkey » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:38 pm

mizrable wrote:unless your guru imparted you with psychic abilities to look into the souls of our forum members
there is no way to really tell what the intent of this gentlemans pursuits are. Judging him doesnt help our cause.
i wish him the best and hope more folks ask questions like this in the future.


Judging eh ?!?!?!
Like YOU just did with me !!!!! And what exactly is 'OUR' cause then?
You've NO idea what I've seen over nearly 40 years - some bloody atrocious stuff that would make even a jaded philanthropist like you wince !?!?!?


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