S. Balachander veena innovations?

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barend
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S. Balachander veena innovations?

Postby barend » Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:34 pm

Balachander is my favorite saraswati veena player.
From what I have read and seen on videos he used several 'new' techniques in his playing:
-bending strings behind the nut
-playing the chikaris with his thumb instead of little finger

But what about his tuning? When I listen I hear much lower notes than on recordings of other veena players. Is he using an extra low string in addition to the S P S P tuning of a normal veena?

Also I hear really wide meends from an octave or more sometimes(!). How is he doing that? There seems to be very little space on the neck of the veena to bend the low strings. Surely not an octave.

Are there more innovations he made to veena technique? Don't want to start a debate on who was first with these techniques though.

David Russell Watson
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Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:52 am

Re: S. Balachander veena innovations?

Postby David Russell Watson » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:03 am

barend wrote:Balachander is my favorite saraswati veena player.
From what I have read and seen on videos he used several 'new' techniques in his playing:
-bending strings behind the nut
-playing the chikaris with his thumb instead of little finger

Since nobody seems to know I'll hazard a guess.

barend wrote:But what about his tuning? When I listen I hear much lower notes than on recordings of other veena players. Is he using an extra low string in addition to the S P S P tuning of a normal veena?

My purely subjective auditory impression is that he lowered the tension of his strings, since his instrument seems to rattle much more than others. That would also lower the overall pitch of his instrument without any other changes being necessary.

However I don't know for sure that he didn't use lower-gauge strings in addition.

barend wrote:Also I hear really wide meends from an octave or more sometimes(!). How is he doing that? There seems to be very little space on the neck of the veena to bend the low strings. Surely not an octave.

He could have been pushing the bass strings towards himself rather than pulling them away. It's awkward but possible, and would give the furthest string from the player as much range as the nearest has.

Low enough string tension might also make it possible to increase the range of mīṇḍ, even without a wide enough neck, just by pressing down on the string in addition to deflecting it laterally. Although I can't imagine mīṇḍ in excess of an octave being possible even by that technique.

Could you direct to a recording of one such unusually wide mīṇḍ?

It may be that he merely transitioned very smoothly from one mīṇḍ to another in an ascending stack, giving the illusion of one long continuous deflection. South Indian vainiks cultivate just such techniques, as wide single-fret mīṇḍ is more difficult on a Southern vīṇā than on a sitar, and not typical of the style.

Keeping the edge of the fingernail tightly against the string during ghasīṭ, or "drag" (Sorry, I don't know the Southern term for this technique), while pressing down on the frets with minimal pressure, might also give the impression of a long mīṇḍ.

David

barend
Posts: 989
Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2006 10:38 pm
Location: the netherlands

Re: S. Balachander veena innovations?

Postby barend » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:23 pm

seems all very unlikely. Tuning is about the same as other veena players (maybe only a half tone lower). But I suspect he added an extra low string to a standard veena. Bending up instead is down is also not very likely. Check out this clip (or any other recording by Balachander) for some really bizarre bends! See at 14:20 and on how he bends behind the nut:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My9VUKzssp0

Come on Balachander fans join in!


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