Surbahar, sitar, and sa

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

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StVitus
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Surbahar, sitar, and sa

Postby StVitus » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:59 am

I’ve read many times that, prior to Allauddin Khan/Ravi Shankar adding bass strings to the sitar, musicians would play alap and jor on surbahar and then gat on sitar. How was sa handled across the two instruments? Did sa remain the same fret location on both instruments but change its note—for example, A# on surbahar and D on sitar ? Or did sa remain the same note but get played on different frets?

barend
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Re: Surbahar, sitar, and sa

Postby barend » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:44 am

Nice question! I don't know how they did it in the old days and if there are recordings of that performance practice (?).

But same applies for sitar surbahar jugalbandis. If sitar and surbahar play together one has to adjust. In all cases that I know the surbahar has to adjust and the Ma of the surbahar becomes the Sa. So sitar stays the same and surbahar takes the open ma string as middle Sa whereas on sitar 7th fret is middle Sa as usual. 7th fret of the surbahar is the Pa and so on. Third string (low Pa) of surbahar has to be tuned to Ma. Same goes for Pa chikari.

So if the sitar is in D the surbahar actually plays in A. As you can see in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzZjnZ9JPik

For that video they tuned in C which is strange because VK tunes higher normally. In that concert he also tuned to C when he played alone.
Last edited by barend on Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nicneufeld
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Re: Surbahar, sitar, and sa

Postby nicneufeld » Wed Dec 28, 2016 4:31 pm

That seems to be the common way...shifting where "Sa" is on the surbahar (rather than drastically retuning), so open ma string is Sa. Ustad Imrat Khan used to accompany his older brother in such a way in the 50s and 60s. If it's a raag with pancham, then instead of Ma,Sa,Pa,Sa, you go Sa, Pa, Sa, Pa. Basically detune your Pa kharaj and Pa chikari by a whole step, tweak your taraf, and as long as you're normally G# sa and the sitar is C# sa, you should be right there in the ballpark. It would take some getting used to, of course, the notes not being in their usual locations. A surbahar solo is rarely (never?) done that way, but with the normal location of Sa.

I wonder if UVK detuned a bit to C because of the demands of that particular surbahar? Depending on string gauge, scale, and instrument temperament surbahars (which seem to be less standardized than sitars these days) can be very picky about tuning. G# is a bit excessive for mine, actually...it likes to live a bit lower than that.

barend
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Re: Surbahar, sitar, and sa

Postby barend » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:34 pm

nicneufeld wrote: G# is a bit excessive for mine, actually...it likes to live a bit lower than that.


I have noticed that most surbahar players today play in A. Whereas Imrat Khan mostly plays in G or G# on his older recordings anyway.
Same goes for sitar. Nowadays most sitar players play in D instead of C#. So on both instruments there is a general consensus to go higher.

StVitus
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Re: Surbahar, sitar, and sa

Postby StVitus » Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:33 am

Thanks! This is interesting stuff.

Sobers
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Re: Surbahar, sitar, and sa

Postby Sobers » Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:24 pm

If the Sitar/Surbahar player (from the past) was a genuine traditionalist then he would play the 'total' alap on Surbahar then change the raga and play gat in another raga in Sitar.
If he want to play a short alap on Surbahar and then continue the same on Sitar gat then he had to change the key as you say from A/A# to D/D#.

trippymonkey
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Re: Surbahar, sitar, and sa

Postby trippymonkey » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:33 am

D-D# ?!?!!?!?!?!? If we carry on like this then we'll be matching the pitch with surbahar anyway ?!?!? :o :lol:

Nick


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