Beginning Sarod questions

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AlamKhan
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Beginning Sarod questions

Post by AlamKhan » Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:19 am

I thought I would start another thread on any questions one might have on beginning Sarod. Questions regarding technique, practice, where to purchase Sarod's, which Sarod makers are out there etc. Please feel free to ask and lets all try and support one another so that the world will hear more of this beautiful instrument. I don't claim to know all the answers but will do my best to offer help. Everyone feel free to participate and discuss that which is SAROD. Take care

Alam Khan

wilsaxo
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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by wilsaxo » Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:15 am

Alam, thanks so much for your generosity! It does seem that the sarod postings on this forum have to age a bit before anyone responds. Although I'm probably not the person that this was intended for, I do have a beautiful Hemen sarod stored in its case that all I have time for is tuning it once an week and playing a few tones tuning them to sa, mostly in what I know of rag Yemen, as I have been currently been using my music practice time for tabla since my teacher returns to Pakistan in the summer, so I haven't sought out a sarod teacher yet. I am thinking that I should be at least practicing some technique during these tuning sessions.

Can you suggest something basic for me be playing? There is so much information out there on beginning sitar. When I see the great sarod players on video with great multiple finger left hand technique I wonder what are the beginner steps? And what about dha and ra? Should I focus on one at at time or both at once? I know these question are best answered by my teacher, but I haven't got one.

I was given a copy of The Classical Music of Northern India, the First Years Study by the person who sold me the Hemen along with a beautiful Sadanand tabla set, if helps you in helping me.

Many Thanks,
David

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plectum
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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by plectum » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:48 pm

Greetings Alamji,
Okay my problem is with my nails. My nails fortunately are hard enough and I do not need to use anything, but the problem is that with longer hours of practice the nails are developing grooves and the sound becomes muted. I am filing them to keep a smooth surface but still they are wearing down more than they are growing out. Another thing I am doing is using different fingers like instead of using the first finger most of the times, am using the second, also am varying the angle at which I press the string to the plate. Now, is this correct thing to do? And do nails get harder with practice?
You know, music, art - these are not just little decorations to make life prettier. They're very deep necessities which people cannot live without. ~~ Pablo Picasso

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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by AlamKhan » Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:42 pm

Dear Wilsaxo,

Everything in The First Year's Study book will help you and I recommend reading all of the text.

I suggest tuning the Sarod to Bilawal that (Major scale) and simpy playing up and down the scale. Begin with Sa chik Re chik Ga chik etc... 1 2 1 2 1 2 one note to a beat and one chikari to a beat. Then you can play each note and chikari together to one beat.

Follow this buy simply playing the scale with all da strokes from lower octave to high (SRGMPDNSSRGMPDNSSNDPMGRSSNDPMGRS) optional to go up to high RGMP and back down if you like. Then hold and play Sa for 8 da strokes before moving on to Re, Ga etc.

Murchhana (page 207 from book) is very important and will help you with maneuvering throughout the scale. It goes as follows SRGMPDNS,SNDPMGRS,RGMPDNSR,RSNDPMGR,GMPDNSRG,GRSNDPMG etc. till you reach the high Sa. You may go higher if you like. Descend the same way you ascended or reverse when descending. This is up to you.

Straight Alankars ( page 210) are very important and are as follows SRG,RGM,GMP etc. followed by SRGM,RGMP etc. until SRGMPDNS,RGMPDNSR. If you read from pages 205-215 there will be more explanation and variations for both the left and right hand. These are essential for technique and control of your instrument.

It is very important to establish the correct fingering when playing as well as intonation. If you are not in tune then slow down each exercise until you can properly play it. A thousand out of tune notes even at a high speed cannot reach the beauty of one note played in tune.

You can practice everything I have explained so far in da stroke. Afterward you may switch to da ra alternating with each note. Of course I could say MUCH more but this should be definitely enough to start. You can practice this way in all of the different thats (Page 273) Please follow the correct time of day each taught is in. I hope this has helped you and all the best with your studies.

Alam

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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by AlamKhan » Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:59 pm

Dear Plectum,

The issue of nail maintenance for sarod players is a frustrating one for most. I myself am constantly struggling to have the desired shape, length, and strength in my nails. Your nails will naturally get worn down from practice and you will begin to take down the whole nail by constant filing for desired shape.

I do at times change the positioning of my finger on the string to get the full sound when my nails get worn down. This is difficult and requires practice. This is not an ideal way of playing but a necessary one I feel at times. Speaking for myself.

I don't recommend changing your fingering because this is important to do correctly. You can however use your second finger for certain ornaments instead of the first but this requires a lot of practice.

There are a number of glues that can be applied to the nail for frequent practice that might help for a short while. There have been other threads started on this forum regarding this. You can also try practicing on the pads of your fingers to conserve your nails. This is much easier especially when doing right hand exercises. I don't think it is the nails that get harder with practice as much as the skin on the pads of your fingertips. You can try taking supplements and avoiding excessive water contact to keep you nails harder. Artificial nails are the last result but I don't recommend this. Your original nail will become even weaker after using artificial products and it is hard to get back to it's natural strength. Otherwise there is not much else to be done. Sorry I don't have more suggestions but it is a constant battle we all must endure. All the best.

Alam

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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by wilsaxo » Sun Apr 19, 2009 2:15 am

Dear Alam,

Thank you so much for such an involved answer! This should keep me busy for a while. I do have a few questions for clarification. When you say tune the sarod to Bilawal that I assume you mean the sympathetics, yes? If so I have only tuned the sympahtetics as shown on the Perfect Third website which includes komal notes. Would I tune the sympathetics in order with no duplicate tones or just make the komal tones match the natural ones?

Also when you suggest
playing up and down the scale. Begin with Sa chik Re chik Ga chik etc... 1 2 1 2 1 2 one note to a beat and one chikari to a beat.
do you mean 1 and 2 to be the fingerings to use? If not, then which finger(s) should I be using?

Thank you again! I will do my best.

David

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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by AlamKhan » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:16 am

Dear David,

The tuning for sympathetic strings in Bilawal that should be as follows. starting from lower Da,Sa,Re,ga,Ga,ma,Ma,Pa,Da,ni,Ni,Sa,Re,Ga,ma upper case lettering meaning shuddha and lower case meaning komal. Ma means tivra and ma means shuddha. Jawari strings should be tuned Lower Ni,middle Re,Ga, and Sa.

What I meant by 1 2 was just 1 beat 2nd beat. Sa one beat then chikari strings for next beat. The correct fingering for Bilawal that is as follows. 1, 2, 3 will mean first finger, second and then third. 0 will mean open string. Starting from lower Sa 0, Re 1, Ga 1, ma 2, Pa 0, Da 1, Ni 3, Sa 0, Re 1, Ga 3, ma 0, Pa 1, Da 3, Ni 1, Sa 2...and then Descending Sa 2, Ni 1, Da (should be 3 for practice establishing Da as third finger but logically is ok to play as first finger descending, Pa 1, ma 0, Ga 3, Re 1, Sa 0, Ni 3, Da 1, Pa 0, ma 2, Ga 1, Re 1, Sa 0

I hope that makes sense :) if not let me know.

Alam

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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by wilsaxo » Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:45 am

Dear Alam,

Your explanation is very clear. Thank you!

Now, regarding the nails, what have you found to be an ideal length for your playing?

David

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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by AlamKhan » Mon Apr 20, 2009 8:02 pm

David,

I personally like to have my nails shorter than others I suppose so I can really dig into the fingerboard. If they are too long I feel somewhat detached from the instrument. Of course my nails are always on the short side anyway due to regular practice and performance. At times one of the three fingers may have a good amount of nail and the others not. This depends entirely on personal preference and whatever allows you to bring out the full sound of the instrument.

Alam

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plectum
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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by plectum » Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:37 pm

Thanks Alamji,
Looks like the nail problem is here to stay.
Another thing that I will like to improve on is, to play more by ears rather than the eyes. I find the note positions relative to landmarks, like Re is halfway between the two plate screws, Ma is below the first chikari peg etc, but am having problem identifying them by hearing alone. So what should I do? I try to sing the palta with the synthesizer before I play on sarod and that helps. Is there anything else I can do?
You know, music, art - these are not just little decorations to make life prettier. They're very deep necessities which people cannot live without. ~~ Pablo Picasso

AlamKhan
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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by AlamKhan » Tue Apr 21, 2009 8:15 pm

Dear Plectum,

Singing will be the most beneficial for you in identifying notes by ear. Singing Sargam everyday as part of your daily practice will help. It really just takes practice and repetition. Also sing in akar all the notes. It will be an open ahhh sound. S, R, G , M will be ah, ah, ah, ah but it should sound continuous throughout all the notes. One long ah. Does that make sense? Start your practice by just singing Sa for several minutes. Then move on to the other notes slowly. Also listening to recordings and trying to identify the notes being played will help. It just takes time.

You can use the "landmarks" on the sarod to locate the notes. This is fine and eventually after a long time of really gaining control of your instrument you will be able to play with your eyes closed and know where you are.

All the best

Alam
Last edited by AlamKhan on Wed Apr 22, 2009 5:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

wilsaxo
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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by wilsaxo » Wed Apr 22, 2009 12:28 am

AlamKhan wrote:David,

I personally like to have my nails shorter than others I suppose so I can really dig into the fingerboard. If they are too long I feel somewhat detached from the instrument. Of course my nails are always on the short side anyway due to regular practice and performance. At times one of the three fingers may have a good amount of nail and the others not. This depends entirely on personal preference and whatever allows you to bring out the full sound of the instrument.

Alam
Alam,
I was able to starting practicing what you outlined in your earlier post and learned first hand how short of a nail was too short. I had broken my middle fingernail earlier while opening a door so it had almost no length. When I started Bilawal Sa, chik, Re, I was able to get the same tone color on the fingered Re as the open Sa, but when I went to play Ga with finger 2 the tone was almost dead and it was nearly impossible to find a spot that produced any clarity. Continuing on with the scale I was able to play all of the tones with fingers 1 and 3 with the same clarity as the open string tones.

Besides learning when a nail is too short, I was pleased to find out that my nails that are short enough to play a Bayan are also long enough to start practicing the sarod.

Thank you again.
David

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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by AlamKhan » Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:10 am

David,

I understand the frustration in not enjoying the sound of the sarod when your nails are broken/too short. I was a little confused about your usage of second finger on Ga? Ga should be played with the first finger on the low Sa string and the third finger on the middle Sa string. Don't worry about the sound not always being very rewarding. If your nail is broken it will be difficult to produce good sound but it is possible. Make sure to always use the correct fingering. I'm glad to hear that you have found a length that works both for your tabla riyaz as well as sarod.

Alam

wilsaxo
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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by wilsaxo » Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:35 am

Alam,

I'm sorry, I wrote Ga when I meant Ma. Thank you for the correction. I was carefully following the fingerings that you were kind enough to give.

Thanks also for the singing advise you gave in this thread. I have a tanpura and have started singing with it for tuning. I'm a Western Classical Music trained saxophonist and have been learning in recent years that if I can't sing what I am trying to play, then I can't render it convincingly.

Best,
David

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plectum
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Re: Beginning Sarod questions

Post by plectum » Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:43 pm

Dear Alamji,
It is me again with a new question. After a few days I will be traveling by air, and will take my sarod with me. So how should i pack the sarod for air travel? I went through the sarod forum, and someone has advised to loosen all the strings so that they do not damage the bridge. Is this enough? In the extreme cold inside the hold will the metal finger plate get damaged, and what do I need to do to protect the tabli skin?

Thanx in advance.
You know, music, art - these are not just little decorations to make life prettier. They're very deep necessities which people cannot live without. ~~ Pablo Picasso

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