Dilruba/Esraj fingering technique

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Indophile
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Dilruba/Esraj fingering technique

Postby Indophile » Thu May 30, 2013 12:50 am

Greetings all,

First a little background: I've gone and caught the ICM bug, and am extremely keen to study the sitar. While waiting for my funds to accumulate sufficiently to afford a decent instrument, I'm amusing myself with a small collection of North Indian instruments loaned to me by a friend of my father (who is now, sadly, a little too old and frail to act as a teacher), including an Esraj and a Dilruba. Turns out bowed instruments are much more fun than I'd previously assumed! I've spent the past few days getting my head around the basics of bowing (open strings), and I feel its time to start looking at fingering.

Now to my question. If I may quote the brief but informative article on Dilruba from this very site: "There seem to be two schools concerning the fingering of the dilruba. One approach shows a strong influence of the sitar. For this approach, there is a strong preference given to using the index finger. Like the sitar, one occasionally invokes the middle finger to gain speed. This approach seems to be slightly more common in North Eastern India. The other school seems to show a distinct preference to the use of the middle finger coupled with the index finger. This approach seems to have the advantage that if one requires speed, one can occasionally use either the index or the ring finger to go in either direction. It is interesting to note though that the proponents of the this school seem to be less disposed to invoke such shortcuts to their technique."

My question is, given that Sitar will be my principal means of exploring Hindustani Sangeet, would there be any significant advantage, with regard to Dilruba, in using the first mentioned approach to fingering rather than the second?

Thanks,
Indophile

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa

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povster
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Re: Dilruba/Esraj fingering technique

Postby povster » Thu May 30, 2013 4:27 am

Indophile wrote:For this approach, there is a strong preference given to using the index finger. Like the sitar, one occasionally invokes the middle finger to gain speed. This approach seems to be slightly more common in North Eastern India. ...

My question is, given that Sitar will be my principal means of exploring Hindustani Sangeet, would there be any significant advantage, with regard to Dilruba, in using the first mentioned approach to fingering rather than the second?

Thanks,


Hello Indophile. If sitar is going to be your instrument of choice then, yes, there is a definite advantage to starting from the beginning using the primary index finger with the middle finger as the turnaround. The middle finger, however, is not just to gain speed. It is to control the turnaround going from ascending to descending.

There is really nothing positive to using the middle finger as primary if you are going to sitar. This is not just "North Eastern India". Most sitar players (as well as surbahar, rudra vin etc.) generally uses the index finger as the "anchor" and the middle finger as the supplementary finger for turnarounds.

Also, when doing mir (meend) - sliding across the fret to get several notes, both index and middle finger are usually used.

Since you are going with sitar I would say use the index as the main and the middle as the supplementary.
...Michael
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Indophile
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Location: Leicestershire, UK

Re: Dilruba/Esraj fingering technique

Postby Indophile » Fri May 31, 2013 12:15 am

Excellent, thanks ever so!
Indophile

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa

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nicneufeld
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Re: Dilruba/Esraj fingering technique

Postby nicneufeld » Fri May 31, 2013 2:11 pm

Let me throw out another question along these lines that I think qualifies as a newbie question...I've never seen a bowed indian instrument up close and personal...but I've heard a lot of seemingly conflicting things about how dilruba/esraj are played. Are the frets actually used? Or is the finger itself used to stop the string? If the frets are used, how is meend achieved?

Thanks!

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kalyan
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Re: Dilruba/Esraj fingering technique

Postby kalyan » Fri May 31, 2013 3:44 pm

You can either use the fret which makes it easier to get a loud strong note or glide along the string above the frets to get that smooth sarangi type sound, I think a combination of both is commonly used. I don't think most players pull the string across the fret like on a sitar.
Kalyan
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David Russell Watson
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Re: Dilruba/Esraj fingering technique

Postby David Russell Watson » Fri May 31, 2013 8:42 pm

I've never played a dilruba or esraj, but I have taken a violin bow to a sitar many times, which sounds similar, and a great variety of tonal colors can be had by alternating between pressing down against the fret and stopping the string in mid air.

For one thing, a very unique "throbbing" sound is made by quickly and repeatedly pressing the string down against a fret and then letting up while bowing it, keeping the finger in contact with the string all the while.

The same gestures made without repetition creates a muffling of the note at its end which is distinct from merely lifting the bow and letting the string vibration die out.

You can also alternate between pressing down on the string right behind the fret, as is proper for a sitar, and pressing down right on top of the fret for a muffled sound which is still distinct from mid-air stopping.

I found it difficult to deflect the string while bowing, however. When the angle of the string to the bow changes suddenly like that you tend to get those ear-splitting shreaks that bad violin playing is known for.

David


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