Choice of Sa

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themodestokid
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Choice of Sa

Post by themodestokid » Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:36 pm

Is there any reason to prefer a particular note as Sa? Everything I read seems to indicate approximately, Most people use C#, some use C, D sounds best but is difficult? I've been using C because it's easier to play along with on my other instruments :)

StVitus
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by StVitus » Tue Jan 03, 2017 1:16 am

At D the strings are under more tension. So they’ll be louder and sustain longer. At C the strings are under less tension. This makes bends easier, but the instrument will be quieter and sustain less. C# is a nice compromise between the two.

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Sitarfixer
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by Sitarfixer » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:20 am

It really depends on the length of the strings ( neck ). C# is nice in that there is sufficient string tension to produce a nice strong note with sustain, etc. on sitars with the standard 34" open string length. Most of these instruments can get away with tuning up to D but it does put additional strain on the neck, neck joint and general construction. For that reason I stay with C#. I've built and had built instruments with a 32" neck length to be intentionally tuned to D. The 2" shorter length allows the same string tension while set to D. Nightclubber, Ovation and other travel type sitars are of shorter scale length and can handle D easily. Guitar players appreciate the D tuning as with their open 4th. string "D", they can jam along with the sitar with great ease. The drop D tuning ( low open E string down to D ) adds to the application. I have an old Miraj made sitar from the mid 60's that's longer than standard. I can tune it down to A with slightly thicker strings, right down there in Sur-Bahar City. Very handy when a gigue calls for that key range. I would presume that prior to the introduction of the harmonium, there was no named note for SA to default to. What ever felt and sounded to for a vocalist, string player or any other instrument would have been the note of the day for any given event. The C# +- range seems to be what the current standard is most happy with although D is rising in popularity. As A440 is surrendering to A 442, it appears Sa - C# for sitar is fast becoming Sa - D. Keep on playing ! ! !

barend
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by barend » Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:14 am

Sitarfixer wrote:I've built and had built instruments with a 32" neck length to be intentionally tuned to D. The 2" shorter length allows the same string tension while set to D.
Which known sitar makers (besides you :D ) do make sitars with a 32" neck? It is not standard. I am looking for a long time now for such a sitar. D is becoming the standard pitch for sitar now. More newer generation players use D than C# these days (Shahid Parvez for example but many many others). I think sitar makers have to build more sitars with a 32" neck because of that. Both not many do as far as I know (?).

It's hard to find out about the measurements of the neck from a sitar that is being sold because everyone uses a different method for measuring (especially in India). I think the best way is to measure the scale length is from where the string leaves the jawari to where it goes in the nut.

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Sitarfixer
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by Sitarfixer » Tue Jan 03, 2017 4:50 pm

Hey there, Barend. Yep ! 32" scale length sitars would be a good thing indeed. I co-produced a 32" sitar which I get to visit in Chicago with its happy owner. I doooo enjoy playing that beastie. That slightly shorter length makes for faster navigation as well. Sound, sustain and all that is not affected. Measurement from the leading edge of the bridge ( jawari sweet spot ) to the nut are the contact points for the ruler. I'm sure any of the Miraj new kids on the block would be happy to make a 32" baby for you. Seems there are quite a few happy customers in recent years who have ordered instruments from them. Here it is :
http://www.karaseksound.com/ShowBigPic.php?ID=IMG0181

barend
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by barend » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:48 pm

Sitarfixer wrote: I'm sure any of the Miraj new kids on the block would be happy to make a 32" baby for you.
Been there done that! :D
I was expecting someone to say this. As you may know two years ago or so I had Waseem make me a slightly shorter one to accommodate the D tuning. But he totally messed up the specs and made me a even bigger one than standard instead of smaller. That is after maybe more than 80 mails with very clear instructions from me. Also the setup was not good and I had to spend many hours to make it right. So all in all it was a disappointing and time consuming experience for me. Not one that I am willing to take anymore. I sold that sitar after two weeks.

So D is the new Sa and sitarmakers have to follow this trend and deviate from the tradition or make two different sitar sizes: one for C# and one for D. If that happens I am happy. If not I will have to have some patience to find the right sitar.

Very nice sitar in that link by the way Tony!

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cwroyds
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by cwroyds » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:05 pm

Sa can be whatever you want it to be for solo sitar.
I tune my HR to D minus 32 cents.
It isn't as tight as D, but it is better on my sitar than C#, which seems too loose.
At D minus 32 cents my sitar sounds best.

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nicneufeld
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by nicneufeld » Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:06 pm

I always take the viewpoint, you don't choose the Sa, the instrument (or your teacher's instrument!) does. It's finding the right balance of playability and tone, and people have lots of different preferences (for most sitars though it seems hard to really go wrong with C# or somewhere a bit north of that). Jugalbandhi complicates matters, depending on what instrument you are playing with (some can adjust to you, many cannot).

barend
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by barend » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:54 pm

nicneufeld wrote:I always take the viewpoint, you don't choose the Sa, the instrument (or your teacher's instrument!) does.
Sure, that's true in theory in an ideal situation. But it doesn't work that way in reality when you play with other people. Specially not western instruments. They won't be happy if you tune to C# and certainly not if you tune to C# +20 cents or whatever. You can't expect everyone else to adjust their pitch to you.
So it is either C or D (A=440hz). C is too floppy for most sitars so that leaves us with D.

If you play alone or only with tabla it doesn't matter and you can do whatever you want.

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nicneufeld
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by nicneufeld » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm

barend wrote: Sure, that's true in theory in an ideal situation. But it doesn't work that way in reality when you play with other people. Specially not western instruments. They won't be happy if you tune to C# and certainly not if you tune to C# +20 cents or whatever. You can't expect everyone else to adjust their pitch to you.
So it is either C or D (A=440hz). C is too floppy for most sitars so that leaves us with D.

If you play alone or only with tabla it doesn't matter and you can do whatever you want.
Yeah, its been a few years since I played sitar with an orchestra..."can do any key, as long as its C#" :) But for most people learning ICM, what you characterize as the "in theory in an ideal situation" scenario is the normal, almost ubiquitous one. Barring jughalbandhi, the sitar is a principally a solo instrument, accompanied with tanpura and tabla...if you're trying to do fusion with either WCM or Western pop music with a sitar, tuning is just one of many challenges to be overcome...

yussef ali k
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by yussef ali k » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:39 pm

Hi, all - hope life's good.

Although I agree w/ the above comments let me add string gauge:

String length, Tuning note and str-gauge are thought to be the factors affecting tension, but I believe some minor ones reside on the individual instrument + setup.

Ex.:
Sa=C is inseed floppy - if it's so, go for the next thicker wire carefully: playing strings first, then after a couple of days cikaris & then tarbs: any compromise 's ok.

Have fun,

Y.

P.S.: I believe there has been some back pages on this subject here.

themodestokid
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by themodestokid » Sun Jan 08, 2017 2:17 pm

Well I seem to have found a new way to choose... Listening to "Sunshine Superman" yesterday I was thinking, boy, this would be fun to play along with.... So now my sitar is tuned to match the key of the song that was playing when I had that thought, "Three King Fishers". It is low and floppy, I will tune higher after I learn this song...

themodestokid
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by themodestokid » Sun Jan 08, 2017 2:26 pm

Note "low and floppy" -- it is quite possible that my turntable is a little slow. Don't know if this key matches the key Donovan played the song in.

barend
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by barend » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:18 pm

yussef ali k wrote: Sa=C is inseed floppy - if it's so, go for the next thicker wire carefully.
I kind of agree but how many sitar player actually play in C? Not many. D makes more sense (at least for me).

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Sitarfixer
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Re: Choice of Sa

Post by Sitarfixer » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:41 pm

Got the old beastie ready for an "A" recording gigue. I kept the .010 taraf string on and tuned in the general C# range. The notes remain the same but the relation to SA is the only difference. From high to low in C# ( 13 strings ) the short one would be around re or ga. With the top strings set for A, that shorty is around ma to pa zone. The matching 7th. fret sa taraf string instead of being string 3 is now up around string 6 or 7. Very handy when I retune baby back to C#. I did however make a delrin bridge specifically for A as with the thicker strings and lower tuning, that bridge needed to be shifted back 1/2". Easier to swap bridges rather than do a repair jawari. Neat that these instruments can be this flexible.

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