To been or not to been

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Nastika
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To been or not to been

Post by Nastika » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:49 pm

I fear I have been bitten by the Been-bug for some time now, after exploring the idea of taking up Sitar. (I have been playing beginning tabla for a few years now) I don't know if anything will come of it yet, as this is no small goal, I know; but if I had to choose between sitar and bina, it would be bina.

I am curious about the different styles, though. I understand that Dagar-style is larger, louder, more sustain, tuned to higher Sa, higher string tension, heavier strings, 8 instead of 7 strings, different posture, different hand techniques (with Dagarbani tending to use the full hand vs 2 fingered approach, no mizrahbs and thumb off the dandi, and to use more of the full hand for plucking as well). What have I missed?

As far as sound, I am unsure, but I think I have an idea. To me, traditional sounds like the jawari is more open, as well as lower pitch; both of which I like a bit better. Also, it may be a bit 'brighter' possibly due to the use of the mizrhabs. Am I hearing correctly?

I must say, the posture of traditional appeals to me a great deal, perhaps a bit more than Dagarbani, in a way I can't really describe; and, I like the idea of the 2 fingered (E.T. hand! lol!) approach. But, I am a tall, broad man and may feel at home with the bulk of Dagar-style.

I also understand that most modern beenkars play Dagarbani, and I wonder: If I were to get an instrument, would it even be feasible to find and learn traditional, or would it behoove me to choose Dagarbani?
Everyone's thoughts are most welcome.

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musicslug
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by musicslug » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:28 pm

you've done your research well - although I'd say loudness is a quality of the individual instrument (i.e. there are louder or softer traditional and Dagar vinas). bigger meends on the kharaj (low string) are a Dagar vina difference - made possible by greater fret width (but a traditional vina can be set up to do this). in general, Z.M.Dagar's innovations on the instrument were to make the sound 'heavier', and that meant literally more weight, which ultimately made traditional posture playing impossible (he borrowed the S. Indian - Saraswati - vina posture to deal with this). jawari is an individual preference, although Dagar-style does mean more closed. Hindraj Divekar, who plays a traditional vina in the traditional way, seems to prefer a pretty closed jawari. Asad Ali Khan, the best over-the-shoulder beenkar in recent times, had a more open jawari. recordings make researching this pretty easy.

you'll probably end up hearing that Altab, in Miraj, is capable of making a fine, bamboo daand, traditional vina. he's in demand as a result, so it would probably take over a year to get one.

you can learn traditional style from Peter Row; Povster (forum member) can (I believe) enlighten you on the details.

good luck,

Daniel

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povster
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by povster » Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:14 am

Hello again Nastika

First thanks for making a new thread!

I would not like to speak with authority on Dagarbani as I never learned under that style but what you wrote sounds pretty accurate. From what I understand the higher tuning and thicker strings Zia Mohiuddin Khan Dagar wanted helped direct his efforts to the modifications he made. From what I gather from an interview with Zia Dagar's son, Bahauddin Dagar, a true Dagarbani rudra vin would be too heavy to hold in the traditional position.

Now you mentioned being a "tall broad man" who may be happier with the bulk of the Dagar style instrument but honestly your size is not a factor in that. Either style instrument should be made to conform to your physicality. There is no single size in a rudra vin, unlike the sitar (barring a custom made one with different dimensions). When it comes to dimensions of the rudra vin the three most critical when it comes to an individual fit would probably be:

1) the size of the gourds as this dictates the "elevation" of the instrument and, in concert with this, the position of the neck.

2) the height of the frets which can influence your hand position

3) the space between the two gourds as measured from the outer circumference of each. This is perhaps the most critical as it will dictate how the instrument lay across your body.

These can vary considerably. Start looking at images of different vins and really attend to the details of each and start comparing. Even the way the rudra vin is held varies quite a bit in the traditional style. Watch videos or look at pictures of, for example, Hindraj Divekar vs Asad Ali Khan vs Shamsuddin Faridi Desai vs Jyoti Hegde etc. You will see different sitting/kneeling positions and also different placements of the lower gourd on the leg/thigh.

"They" say one usually begins with sitar, goes next to surbahar and then to rudra vin. This was my own progression. But I really see no absolute reason to do not just start with rudra vin except one: the time it can take to actually acquire an instrument. It took about 20 months to get my rudra vin in its final configuration. It was made from scratch but needed to have modifications to bring it to the original specifications. Even if you find one pre-made there is a good chance you will need to have some changes made to make it ideally suited to your own physicality. Which would mean sending it out to have modifications made.

In the meantime you should be studying the raga side of the music. The sitar or surbahar can be a great help when it comes to the concepts. You stroking hand will definitely be different (one on sitar/surbahar vs two or more fingers on vin). Your fretting hand will have to learn new positions as the sitar/surbahar are strung opposite of the rudra vin. The main string on the sitar/surbahar is furthest from you with the lower/thicker strings coming toward you. On the rudra vin the main string is closest to you and the lower/thicker strings go away from you.

Learning vocal is always a good thing and this can also be used to learn more while your instrument is being created or modified or even located.

As far as the "openness" of the traditional vs Dagar style, that is probably more due to the jawari (how the main bridge is shaped) than the presence or lack of mizrabs. I use mizrabs on my vin but I can produce a softer/mellower sound or a more "twangy" sound based on how I use the mizrabs to stroke the string. You can "pluck" the string or you can "drag" it (best term I can think of). Plucking the string produces a brighter sound. Dragging it (again - hard to really find a word for it) across the string produces a mellower sound.

Phew - I am pretty written out for now!
...Michael
Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
Panini - the official bread of ICM

rudraani
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by rudraani » Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:39 am

There is no question "To been or Not to been". To been is the only way to go. You won't regret.
Everything happens for a reason.

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Ramesh
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by Ramesh » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:23 pm

Dear Forum Members,

Salaam and Namaskar.
Ive decided to write about my own dilemma here so as to not flood the forum with new posts with pretty much the same or related topic(if i dont get a reply here though,i might start a new thread)

Ive been a student of sitar and Hindustani music for the past 3 years and although i havent been really an industrious and disciplined student( my skills may not even be past basic level),I am currently in a dilemma between (trying) to learn Dhrupad by acquiring either a Surbahar or a Rudra Veena.For the longest time ive set my mind on the Surbahar since ive thought it would be easier to transition from sitar to surbahar.But the more i listen to the Rudra Veena(specially the DagarVeena-i am for some mysterious reason heavily attracted to the tone,resonance and sustain of the bigger tumbas),the more i want to play the Rudra Veena and learn Dhrupad.I guess im also heavily attracted to the "orthodox" sound,character,approach and yes,tradition of Dhrupad since im quite the purist when it comes to Art(i teach traditional martial arts and was and still a student of Traditional Spiritual paths(Taoism,Vaisnavism,Persian Sufism).So needles to say,the Rudra Veena and Dhrupad resonates alot with my heart.

So my question is,is it possible for me to learn the Rudra Veena without a physical Guru?Or is it more advisable for me to learn the Surbahar first until i am fortunate enough to meet a Rudra Veena teacher?I am still in the process though of saving up for either of the two.If money isnt a problem,i would definitely get both,even a Persian Tar(to use for my Sufi meditation).

I would deeply and greatly appreciate any advice coming from Maestros and senior musicians such as you Prabhujis and Sahib-jis. For i am merely a humble student in this spiritual path of Music.
Thank you very much and May God bless all of you.

your humble servant,
Ramesh
"If in every home one child was taught Hindustani classical music this country would never have been partitioned."-Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

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Surbaharplayer
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by Surbaharplayer » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:47 pm

I consider myself VERY lucky to study with Ust Bahauddin Dagar, though my interest in dhrupad stems years before I met him in 2005 (acutually I first heard his father Ust. Z.M. Dagar 10 years earlier). I started on sitar (2001), then shifted to surbahar (2003) and finally bought my veena in 2009. So for me it was almost a 14 year journey... Looking back it was almost if the journey itself was the goal..and not the veena.

My reaction to your question would be: you would need a teacher/guru/ustad. The intricacies of the instrument itself, how to get a good instrument, the depth of the music; I think its a daunting thing to do on your own.

On the other hand: when you got a surbahar/veena sooner or later you'll meet the right people; somehow the teacher will present himself when the time is right. (Same thing with buying an instrument btw). Finding a veena is also difficult. A surbahar is easier to buy. Also finding a teacher for surbahar would be easier, though not many surbaharplayers are dhrupad-oriented (though many claim the be).

This all sounds a bit weird... but my journey has been strange (with meeting the right people at the right time), but definatly worth it....

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Ramesh
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by Ramesh » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:35 am

Surbaharplayer,

Salaam and Namaskar Sir.Thank you for the response.Indeed you are very lucky and blessed.I could only dream and wish to merely have the association of such great musical Maestros.

I hadsomehow thought that maybe it is indeed harder to transition from Sitar to Rudra Veena than from Sitar to Surbahar.Reading from your letter i would guess that it is probably much better for me to try to get hold of a Surbahar first.Although i must honestly say that i wont give up my dream to at least hold or maybe even get to play an instrument as sacred as the Rudra Veena someday.

Actually my journey towards the Sitar and Hindustani sounds similar with yours.I first wanted to learn Sarangi but the only person who was (rarely) selling Indian instruments in my country at that time only had a sitar for sale.So i ended up buying a relatively overpriced "plywood" sitar(as some some Sitariyas would call it) but the seller introduced me to the person whom i didnt realize that time would actually be my Guru.So considering the amount i paid for the sitar,it was well worth it.Meeting my Guru and having been able to learn not only the Sitar and Hindustani music but also deep lessons in life and spirituality as well is what I consider one of,if not the greatest blessing in my life.

Anyway,is there any book or dvd that gives basic instruction on the Rudra Veena and Dhrupad?I would greatly appreciate any information on this.Thank you very much and May God bless you all.

Sincerely,
Ramesh
"If in every home one child was taught Hindustani classical music this country would never have been partitioned."-Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

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Surbaharplayer
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by Surbaharplayer » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:05 pm

Hi Ramesh,
I don't know any book on technique, though I got a lot out of looking at video's. I have my own youtubechannel that I dedicate to veena (and in particular Bahauddin's playing).

http://www.youtube.com/user/DutchDhrupad?feature=mhum

When I took up surbahar I quickly changed to the 3-finger approach (instead of the sitar-like one mizrab approach). Somehow I felt more at ease this way (jhalla went a lot smoother somehow) and, in hindsight I was preparing myself for the veena. When I met Bahauddin for the first time he also played my surbahar this way so I knew I was on the right path.

My advice would be to listen a lot and view youtube a lot. Also listening to vocaldhrupad is good way to get the feel. Voice is a lot more flexible that a string so it's a good challenge for the ear to follow what the singers are doing. I've studied also with Marianne Svasek, a dhrupadsinger for 25 years; just to sit next to her and copy her phrases were amazing lessons.

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Ramesh
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by Ramesh » Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:50 am

Dear Surbaharplayer,

Thank you again so much for responding and for the invaluable information.,Ive checked and subscribed to your youtube channel and i must say that youve given us a wonderful gift by posting such priceless footages of Ustad Bahauddin Dagar.And your playing is amazing as well!May God bless you for your kindness and generosity.
InshaAllah someday i will acquire a Rudra Veena and meet my Dhrupad Guru.As of now,i will try to learn through the videos and spend more time with my sitar.Again thank you so much.

Sincerely,
Ramesh
"If in every home one child was taught Hindustani classical music this country would never have been partitioned."-Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

rudraani
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by rudraani » Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:08 pm

Hi Ramesh,

Rudraveena came in my life like a miracle. I never touched any string instrument before. I am learning traditional rudraveena on Skype. My teacher(musicslug) is a member of this forum and plays dhrupad on dagar-style veena.

I got 80-years old rudraveena to work with. I repaired that myself with remote help from lot of rudraveena players and this forum. No one was physically there to help me out.

You can ask my progress to my teacher. Reply me privately to get his contact as I want to keep privacy of my teacher.
Everything happens for a reason.

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Ramesh
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Re: To been or not to been

Post by Ramesh » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:28 am

Dear Rudraani,

Indeed it is like a miracle.And you are so blessed!
Fortunately i was able to get in touch with your Guru through PM.And i am very thankful for his kindness and generosity.May God Bless both of you.

Sincerely,
Ramesh
"If in every home one child was taught Hindustani classical music this country would never have been partitioned."-Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

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