Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

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themodestokid
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Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby themodestokid » Sun Jan 08, 2017 2:58 pm

How set in stone are the pitches of the sympathetic strings? I tuned mine at one point to a chart that said it was for "Ravi Shankar style sitar" but that was quite a while ago and since then I've been tuning them pretty much to ear, at this point I very much doubt the pitches still match what was originally on that chart, even approximately.

MatSitar
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Re: Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby MatSitar » Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:54 pm

Do you have an electronic tanpura? You need to tune your strings with the drone in the background according to the raga you want to play. Repeat until the strings are stable. Try iTabla if you don't have one!

MatSitar
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Re: Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby MatSitar » Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:57 pm

And you do need to ''tune'' your frets too... By moving them a little bit up and down. Then everything will resonate!

themodestokid
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Re: Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby themodestokid » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:22 pm

Yes, I tune them so they sound good with the electric tanpura. I'm just saying I'm not paying attention to "this string Re, this string Ma" etc.

StVitus
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Re: Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby StVitus » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:52 pm

Taraf tunings vary by the raag. They’re tuned so that the notes you play are the notes that resonate. If the tuning of the taraf strings doesn’t match the tuning of the other strings they’re not going to do much. So poorvi uses a different arrangement than yaman. Your teacher should provide you with tunings appropriate to the raags you lean. If you don’t have a teacher you might be able to find appropriate tunings online. Josh Feinberg’s sitar method lists taraf tunings for the raags he shows.

CheesecakeTomek
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Re: Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby CheesecakeTomek » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:04 pm

I think it is fairly standard to have the longest strings something like S N, S or S D, N, S - and I think I've heard some do it such that the longest string is tuned to Ni, maybe N, D, S? So there us certainly some variety out there. One thing I have noticed, that affects the way I tune, is that most sitars will have a particularly strong note in their resonance somewhere between Re and Ma above "middle Sa". I generally try to avoid doubling this note in the tariffs, even if it is vadi of the raga, as I find it creates an unbalanced emphasis on that note.

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nicneufeld
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Re: Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby nicneufeld » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:16 pm

"How set in stone are the pitches of the sympathetic strings?"

Basically "not at all". As mentioned in the thread, they vary by what raag is being played. And even then, its not as if there is a specific, exact way to tune for playing raag Yaman. The notes themselves are set in stone (barring obscure controversy about Kalyan shuddh ma, and whether certain ascent movements are allowed), but which exact strings you tune to which notes is going to vary from sitar to sitar (some have 11, some 12, some 13 taraf) and player to player...some like the taraf to descend down and end on Sa, some like it to end on low Ni, sometimes this varies even by gharana. For instance, I note a lot of Imdadkhani players who might end the descent of the strings with something like Re 'Dha Sa 'Ni, vs something more like Re Sa 'Ni Sa for Maihar gharana (not an expert in either but particularly not of the latter so YMMV). Deciding which notes to double-up on probably varies by the player's understanding of the raag, ie., which notes need more emphasis, and also the unique qualities of the instrument (say you get really screaming overtones on a note that you want with a particular configuration of the taraf).

So my understanding/opinion is that the exact configuration (this string this, this string that) is not particularly important (unless you have a teacher who wants you to follow a specific pattern, of course!), but what is important/nonnegotiable is that the entire instrument is in tune with both itself (main strings, chikari, fret positions, and taraf) and the raag. If you're playing Raag Bhupali and you've got a tivra Ma taraf (left over from playing Yaman) belching out sympathetically every time you bend from Ga to Pa, well, that's not what you want :) Every string should be tuned to reinforce the raag.

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nicneufeld
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Re: Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby nicneufeld » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:22 pm

CheesecakeTomek wrote: and I think I've heard some do it such that the longest string is tuned to Ni, maybe N, D, S?


Yep, this is how my teacher has taught me (Imdadkhani style). I think the practical upshot of it is the Ni is more tonally useful as a left hand pinky "accent note", if tuned to Sa, its not much different than a chikari strike, but during alap, and sometimes jhalla, being able to use the left hand and reach under the frets and play Ni allows for some extra color. I can't speak for everyone in the gharana but it seems pretty common (also that "thonk" effect where the main string strike also hits the long taraf, usually has that pleasingly discordant Ni sounding quite strongly).

mizrable
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Re: Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby mizrable » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:11 am

Having a teacher to help you tune the tarabs if you are a new to sitar makes all the difference in the world.

If you dont have one im happy to help you out via skype!

yussef ali k
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Re: Resonant strings: alternate tunings?

Postby yussef ali k » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:24 pm

Hi, all.
TMKid,

When you have 13 symp strings you may find having all 12 notes w/ top & bottom Sa to your liking.

I like it for day by day practice, but you trade cascading strums for rag-to-rag convenience (am tuning all 13, not skipping any). You may also compromise this to a level which allows for some partial cascading.
Any concerts are to be dealt in a different, raga-based way.

But then again this is supposed to be tuned 'according to the player's wishes' as written in many books.

I've seen sitars w/ more than 13 symps (all these had 24 frets, so some added logic to the above 'chroma tuning' suggested)...

... and you may also MUTE ALL for a feeling of the late XIX century sitar sound, w/ no added color to what you are actually doing.

... or leave the bottom lower 2 Sa's in unison for an added Bin color... Have fun!

Hope this helps.

And have fun, all.

Y.


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