Alankar vs. Sargram

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junior
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Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby junior » Fri May 11, 2012 9:16 pm

Can somebody explain the difference between ALANKAR and SARGRAM?

Thanks in advance!

John

yussef ali k
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby yussef ali k » Wed May 16, 2012 2:24 am

Hi. Hope this'll be of use.

These are the kind of ICM-words which have multiple levels of significance & use.
Having said that,

Sargam= Solfeggio, related prax.;

Alankar were linear melodic exercises featuring a recurring contour (12323-23434-34545...) AND mizrab bol ... & generally adaptable to the sargams.

P.S.: Why the 'vs.' in the title?
Have fun.

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nicneufeld
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby nicneufeld » Wed May 16, 2012 3:22 am

Yussef has it pretty clearly I think. Sargam is an adaptation of SRGM, as in Sa Re Ga Ma (Pa Da Ni Sa). It means essentially the use of those syllables to indicate notes with a fixed tonic, ie., Sa being root, Ga being third, etc. In western notation we call it solfege (do re me fa, etc).

Alankars are generally patterned exercises within a raag structure. For instance, I started on Bhupali tonight with my teacher, and I was given a number of patterns within the Bhupali structure (SRGPDS) to practice. Alankars help (at least in my case) to really get your fingers used to the jumps for intervals on a specific raag. Also very helpful in raags where the arohana differs from the avarohana. My first two raags of study were Yaman and Jhinjhoti which both have differing ascent and descent and forcing yourself to do the exercises is a great way to internalize the way the raag works.

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cwroyds
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby cwroyds » Wed May 16, 2012 5:02 am

Athough Sargam is the general term for Indian solfege, but in this context it means something else too.
"Playing Sargam" means running the notes of a raga up and down over and over and over.
It strengthens the hands while it solidifies your knowledge of the notes of a Raga.
You build up until you are running the notes of a Raga up and down the full range of the instrument. It is very exhausting if done correctly and for long periods of time.
I think in this context, this is what junior was referring to.

Playing Sargam differs from playing Alankars in that playing Sargam is running the notes straight up and down the neck of the sitar, while Alankar in this context means exercises using groups of notes in patterns, as mentioned above.

Alankar can also refer to ornaments like Meend, Krintan, Zamzama, etc.

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nicneufeld
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby nicneufeld » Wed May 16, 2012 1:30 pm

Oh, yes of course, that makes more sense. In that context they are much closer, and when I am taught a new raga the "sargam exercise" is the first thing I am taught, followed by patterned exercises/alankars. So last night for Bhupali I started with S R G P D S' R' G' R' S' D P G R S, gradually adding the upper Pa, and going down to the lower Sa as well, in Da Ra Da Ra patterns was well as Da Diri Da Diri, and Diri Diri. Then the same thing with patterns of threes, ie 'S'R'G 'R'G'P 'G'P'D 'P'DS 'DSR SRG RGP GPD PDS' DS'R' S'R'G' R'G'P' P'G'R' G'R'S' R'S'D S'DP DPG PGR GRS RS'D S'D'P 'D'P'G 'P'G'R 'G'R'S. These also in da ra, da diri da, and diri diri diri patterns. Then do the same ascent in patterns of fours, with the three different right hand strokes.

At first when I started on these with other raags I felt kind of like it was a waste of time...repetitive and boring, etc., but I can more readily appreciate their use now (to ingrain the note positions, particularly those big intervals in pentatonics, as I'm learning now).

Also on the alternative meanings of alankar, I'm pretty sure if I looked in my book Naad: Understanding Raga Music by Sandip Bagchee, alankars were defined more as ornaments as you mention. It seems that words can be used in different contexts with many different meanings, which can be quite confusing for non-hindi speakers, but I'm sure Western music has just as many of these slightly murky (murki?) word usages, if not more.

junior
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby junior » Mon May 21, 2012 7:40 pm

This all is starting to make sense now. Thanks! I've come across these two terms and didn't understand the difference...

I also noticed in Ravi Shankar's sitar manual that he defines SARGRAM as exercises in a given raga. This makes the understanding of ALANKAR more clearer.

I have a question for nic. When you are learning your new rag Bhupali and learning sargrams - and when you say you start at 'S'R'G are you starting on the second string in the open position? I assume 'S is low Sa, correct?

Secondly, I am teaching myself rag Bhairav at the moment. I feel it might be an "advanced" rag as I'm a newbie to sitar and have been playing for just one year... Nonetheless, I am fascinated with the minor notes and giving it a try... Having said all that, I assume I can construct my own sargrams as you point out with the patterns going up and down the neck and using the specific ascending and descending notes:

Ascending: 'N S G M D N S'
Descending: S' N D P M G R S

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nicneufeld
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby nicneufeld » Mon May 21, 2012 9:01 pm

Re starting from the low Sa, yes, that's what I do now (we actually started initially from the "middle" sa and my teacher just expanded it across the whole range of the gandhar pancham instrument...the second string notes are difficult to hit cleanly I admit, but practice makes perfect, or so I hear). You could of course do them just on the main string alone if you like. On my notation I use apostrophes before the notes to indicate lower octave, apostrophes after to indicate upper octave.

Bhairav is a beautiful sounding thaat although for some reason I never seem to happen upon many performances of it as a pure raag...Ahir Bhairav, Maand Bhairav, etc. You mention minor notes, and while it has several flattened notes (Re and dha) the gandhar is shuddh and so technically to parallel Western music, it actually has a "major" sound to it, having a major third. However it does have a very exotic sound though. I'm no expert and have never been taught Bhairav, but our host has a page:
http://chandrakantha.com/raga_raag/bhairav/bhairav.html

He indicates it is sampurna/sampurna, with a straight ascent and descent omitting no notes. So for a "sargam" style exercise, you could do, for instance:

S r G m P d N S' r' G m m G r' S' N d P m G r S (and down to lower Sa using the same pattern if preferred)

The triple and quadruple patterns I've been taught are great for getting your hand used to the proper intervals to hit the notes. For bhairav this seems like it would work:
ascending:
'm 'P 'd 'P 'd 'N 'd 'N S 'N S r S r G r G m G m P m P d P d N d N S' N S' r' S' r' G' r' G' m'
descending:
m' G' r' G' r' S' r' S' N S' N d N d P d P m P m G m G r G r S r S 'N S 'N 'd 'N 'd 'P 'd 'P 'm

junior
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby junior » Tue May 22, 2012 10:41 pm

Nic,

Thanks for the link to the rag. That is cool. I am also taking lessons and so the ascending and descending version that I noted earlier is from my teacher. I am teaching myself the sargrams. My teacher is showing me some jhala in the alap sections right now...

When you go back to the second string and play those notes all the way up to low S, do you do the same DA, RA, technique with the mizrab as you would normally do on the first string? There is not much room to move around when you get to the second string. I'm tuned to Kharaj Pancham...and it is probably a little tighter up there than in the Ghandar Pancham tuning.

Thanks for the sargram exercises. And, thanks for pointing out that Bhairav is not a "minor" kind of scale... I agree that the sound is very exotic and so I automatically assumed it must be a minor scale... Thanks for clarifying. The flattened "second" note is what threw me off. It is an amazing sound.

Rock'on!

JB

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nicneufeld
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby nicneufeld » Tue May 22, 2012 11:18 pm

I know what you mean about how it "feels" minor. One of my favorite raags I recently discovered is Basant Mukhari, which pairs the Bhairav lower...hindi word escapes, lets just say lower half...with the Bhairavi upper portion...tetrachord thats it, not a hindi word anyway! So you have S r G m P d n S. Similar to Bhairav but with flatted nishad.

On the second string, that's a very good question. I asked my teacher last week and he said to do the Da-Ra strokes. Not sure if he means to do this just for practicing sake or if its how it should generally be played, I have a hard time not striking the other strings without a very precise Da stroke, and the Ra stroke forces me to use my left hand to mute the main string (don't want to hear Ma in Bhupali!!). Anyway, I imagine opinions will vary on that, but my teacher bade me practice with Da-Ra on the second string as well. Maybe someone out in KharajpanchamLand can elucidate!

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nicneufeld
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby nicneufeld » Wed May 23, 2012 3:01 am

To add to the interest, my teacher corrected me tonight...what he is teaching me are not alankars, per se, but paltas, or exercises. Alankars are in his vernacular more of a vocal-related concept. Seems like one can get varied usages of these terms depending on who is your teacher.

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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby CheesecakeTomek » Wed May 23, 2012 6:04 am

Yes, use Da Ra strokes going down to low Sa. For Da, make it a more downward stroke, so that the mizrab comes to rest on the Pancham string once it has struck the second string. That will eliminate the risk of strumming multiple strings. Similarly Ra can be angle slightly up, making it easier to clear the main string, rather than hitting it. You should not need to change your hand position to achieve this.

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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby Bhuvanesh » Thu May 24, 2012 1:05 am

nicneufeld wrote:I know what you mean about how it "feels" minor. One of my favorite raags I recently discovered is Basant Mukhari, which pairs the Bhairav lower...hindi word escapes, lets just say lower half...with the Bhairavi upper portion...tetrachord thats it, not a hindi word anyway!


Lower tetrachord == Poorvaang
Upper tetrachord == Uttaraang

:)

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nicneufeld
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby nicneufeld » Thu May 24, 2012 3:05 am

Bhuvanesh wrote:
nicneufeld wrote:I know what you mean about how it "feels" minor. One of my favorite raags I recently discovered is Basant Mukhari, which pairs the Bhairav lower...hindi word escapes, lets just say lower half...with the Bhairavi upper portion...tetrachord thats it, not a hindi word anyway!


Lower tetrachord == Poorvaang
Upper tetrachord == Uttaraang

:)


Thanks, that's it!

I'm sure to forget yet again. Mind like a sieve, I've got.

yussef ali k
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Re: Alankar vs. Sargram

Postby yussef ali k » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:01 pm

Hi, all.

Junior,
If I am allowed 1 more opinion (which you could well discuss w/your teacher):

a) the picking of the 2nd string will be easier the less space there is between the index nailtip & the inside of the mizrab striking tip: see if you get comfortable w/ it;

b) Agreeing w/ the above on the scale character. I'd also say Bhairav that/scale sounds exotic because all the pitches are arranged in semitones (half steps, here=HS) (Sa/b2; 3/4; 5/b6; 7/high sa). Also, its intervallic structure has perfect symmetry:
HS-minor 3rd-HS-2nd-HS-minor 3rd-HS.
So, we may agree fingering is 'on the awkward side' & so it is sometimes recommended as 1 of two initial study ragas (the other being chosen among other things by a regular interv-structure, as 4 ex., Yaman).

Have fun - hope this is of use.


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