Self Introduction and Appeal

This is for general discussions of Indian music and dance.

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Zeugitai
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Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by Zeugitai » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:14 pm

Hello group. My name is Mark and I am living in northwestern Iowa. I have been a guitarist for forty years, but I have been listening to Indian, as well as Turkish and Arabic musics extensively for about the past year. Of course, i am old enough to have owned, played, and worn out several excellent LP records of Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan back in the day. Then life intervened. During this recent time I have been reading various resources on Raga and Maqam. I am very interested in getting my hands on something, anything, on which I can begin to try my hand and ear at these quarter- and micro-tonal materials. I am old and still a wage-slave, and I will not live long enough to become some great instrumentalist on any new instrument, so I need to avoid instruments that are physically very demanding. Nor do I need an artisan instrument running into the thousands of dollars. It seems I would be best served with a fretless instrument, and I was thinking of a sarode. I have been tempted by the beautiful sounds of the various bowed instruments, as well, like the Taus, but am concerned with the expense which my dilettantism does not justify. I feel certain that I can't be the first person in my position, so I am hoping that guidance won't be difficult to come by, and I offer thanks in advance!

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povster
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Re: Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by povster » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:49 pm

One possibility as a sarod alternative is a dotar (not the 2 string folk dotar) but the one that is essentially a small sarod.

I have seen them at AACM and "played" one and they are very sarod-like in sound.Here's an example:

http://www.aacmstore.org/index.php?main ... cts_id=392
...Michael
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Zeugitai
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Re: Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by Zeugitai » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:40 pm

povster wrote:One possibility as a sarod alternative is a dotar (not the 2 string folk dotar) but the one that is essentially a small sarod.
Thanks, povster. I'll look around for that. As I do look around, I'm seeing and hearing some beautiful instruments, although it's difficult to keep their names straight (rabab versus rebab, etc). I'm trying to keep my selection constrained to my simple needs: microtonality, timbral quality, and affordability. I think I need no more than two octaves. The sounds I produce will be confined to personal enrichment and enjoyment exclusively.

Thanks, again.

Zeugitai
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Re: Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by Zeugitai » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:06 am

After a couple days listening to and watching awesome instrumental performances on the internet, I am favoring the sarangi. It is the sound of Ramesh Mishra that floored me above others. Please let me know what you think in light of what I have said above, whether it is what I have been looking for, or whether it presents unsuspected obstacles. I can see, for one thing, that the tuning looks very intimidating.

Thanks!

OM GUY
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Re: Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by OM GUY » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:19 am

Zeugitai wrote:After a couple days listening to and watching awesome instrumental performances on the internet, I am favoring the sarangi. It is the sound of Ramesh Mishra that floored me above others. Please let me know what you think in light of what I have said above, whether it is what I have been looking for, or whether it presents unsuspected obstacles. I can see, for one thing, that the tuning looks very intimidating.

Thanks!
I'm not going to tell you what to do, as I don't want to drive you into anything or away from anything.

The only thing I want you to think about is a teacher. :idea: :?:
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

Zeugitai
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Re: Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by Zeugitai » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:59 am

OM GUY wrote:
Zeugitai wrote:After a couple days listening to and watching awesome instrumental performances on the internet, I am favoring the sarangi. It is the sound of Ramesh Mishra that floored me above others. Please let me know what you think in light of what I have said above, whether it is what I have been looking for, or whether it presents unsuspected obstacles. I can see, for one thing, that the tuning looks very intimidating.

Thanks!
I'm not going to tell you what to do, as I don't want to drive you into anything or away from anything.

The only thing I want you to think about is a teacher. :idea: :?:
Thank you, but it isn't that I am looking for someone to tell me what to do. It is that I had hoped to hear from experienced people what they thought might be an instrument that is both affordable and that might serve as a vehicle by which to explore non-Western musical materials for self-enjoyment. I mentioned that I have played a guitar for a long time just to indicate that I have some experience playing a plucked stringed instrument. My hands have developed dexterity with regard to playing strings, generally. I want to get away from frets in 100-cent semitones and make an approach to materials that include quarter tones and commas. There is no possibility whatsoever that a qualified teacher of any of these instruments could be found in rural Iowa where I live. I refuse to let that deter me, however. Is there a player of sarangi who might be be able to tell me whether they think this instrument presents any special obstacle to a person like myself? Does any brand excel others for value? I am favoring it for tone quality, fretlessness and affordability.

david
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Re: Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by david » Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:13 pm

Sarangi is a VERY difficult instrument. Dilruba and esraj are considerably easier to play, yet have a similar tone. Furthermore they can be strung with easily accessible guitar strings. You might consider this.

Peace

David Courtney

TCPerez
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Re: Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by TCPerez » Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:26 pm

Well, I'm not a sarangi player, but from what I hear its one of the most difficult/demanding of Indian instruments. I certainly wouldn't dissuade you from learning it if you are very interested. Dotar sounds like the most logical option, as its played in a fairly similar fashion to guitar and seems to fit your other needs.

One thing to consider is that you can still get microtones on a fretted instrument through bending (meend)

Another thing, your going to progress much faster if you can find a good teacher of Indian music. There is a lot of knowledge on Indian music that can't easily be found in books. Some teachers offer lessons via skype, which, while not quite as effective, is a very good alternative if you can't find a teacher locally.

Good luck in your ventures! I came from a guitar playing background too, and quite a few other folks on this site did as well. It certainly does help in your finger dexterity, etc, but keep in mind there is still a huge learning curb, as you're not only learning a new instrument, but a completely different form (not just style) of music as well :)

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nicneufeld
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Re: Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by nicneufeld » Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:39 pm

Don't let frets be a hangup...listen to a good gayaki sitarist or a rudra veena player...the frets are not stopping points to fix a pitch, but merely starting points from which any number of possible pitches may be achieved through use of meend. Also, while microtones get associated with Indian music a lot, also bear in mind that in general, generally they operate a very similar chromatic 12 note octave as the west...very occasionally you can see "extra sharp" or "extra flat" versions of a note being called for in a raag, but more often than not, the focus is on being purely in tune and landing on the right note which usually isn't a microtone. From my very cursory knowledge of it, quarter tones tend to figure more prevalently in Arabic music. Sometimes the very "exotic" sounding raags that use lots of dissonant sounding notes (komal re, komal dha, etc) in addition with copious use of meend give us an idea that quarter tones and microtones are more important than they generally are in N. Indian music. Although they certainly have their place...I think Southern Indian music tends to place more emphasis on this (having a theory of 22 shrutis, so genuine microtonal stuff), but I am unversed in Carnatic music.

+1 on corralling a good teacher. I learn via Skype (actually Google video chat) and it works excellently.

Sitar and sarode are some of the most popular instruments so you are most likely to find teachers available for those. If you genuinely prefer bowed instruments, dilruba or esraj would be probably the best idea. It does seem that one finds these instruments used mostly as accompaniment (they haven't broken out of that role into solo instruments to the degree the sarangi has) and also seem more embedded in Sikh music and culture than some of the other instruments, at least from anecdotal observations.

Good luck!

Zeugitai
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Re: Self Introduction and Appeal

Post by Zeugitai » Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:30 pm

I just wanted to check in to acknowledge the several informative messages and suggestions. I am in the process of taking in all of it. I think, too, that in the process of reading, listening, and considering my options, my original intentions are evolving. Realizing this, I intend to give the process more time to elapse before making any judgments, decisions, or investments.

I have been listening to proponents and players of various instruments, various ragas, etc. looking at their physical exertions, their hand and arm positions, and to the microtonality and to the timbral qualities of the instrument. Through this I have come to favor the sarangi for several practical reasons: 1) excellent timbral color; 2) natural arm and hand positions; 3) full diapason within easy physical range of hands; 4) bowed attack and sustain. Several people have pointed out that this is a "difficult" instrument but the reason(s) for this aren't obvious.

At any rate, I am reserving all judgment until I have had more time to absorb and observe more.

Thanks again to all those who have written with ideas and suggestions for the kind assistance.

Mark

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