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Mulamoodan

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Reply with quote  #1 
I have seen automatic tuners for swar sangam etc, and wondering why the mechanism is not employed in sitars etc. Any thoughts?
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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #2 
It is definitely possible.
Gibson produces self tuning guitars, both acoustic and electric.
BUT it would not work for a traditional design sitar.
There has to be motorized tuning machines.
It would add a good deal of weight to the neck.
(If you auto tuned the sympathetic strings the weight would be debilitating.

If you just used it on the main strings it might work great.
You would click a knob and strum the strings and they would self tune.
You could also have a dial to select different tunings. (ie Pa chickari could retune to Ma, etc.)

Self tuning acoustic guitar
http://www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Blogs/Dark-Fire--The-Inside-Story/February-2009/World-Premiere-of-the-first-acoustic-guitar-with-R.aspx

Self tuning "Robot" Electric guitar
http://www.gibson.com/robotguitar/index.html

My gut tells me that for sitar this could work but would be most successful with the electric/studio style sitar.
They already have tuning machines and could more easily accept electronics and knobs than the traditional sitar design would.
If you could figure out how to make it work for the main strings AND the sympathetic strings it would be a joy.
Imagine picking up your sitar and strumming the strings and they all tighten into exact tune.
Also if you were tuned in C# and went to play with someone who was tuned to D you could just dial in D tuning and BAM your sitar is tuned perfectly in D.

Very cool thought.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #3 
Honestly, and not being a dillweed or jerk, the concept of a self-tuning sitar (or sarod, esraj, sarangi etc) kind of rankles my nerves. Let's leave alone the fact that some ragas have different tunings of individual pitches such as an ati komal re. If the musician can tune those particular frets custom to a particular raga, they should be able to tune the whole instrument easily. The act of tuning an instrument helps the musician get "into" the raga. Gets the pitches in their head. Gets them focussed on what they will be playing for that particular session. Even the rudra vin, which has no tarafs, should be tightly tuned and the frets attended to as needed for a particular raga.

Tuning is not an hour long process (unless you are new to it). Tuning is a matter of a few or more minutes depending on the instrument, how tight the tuning is and the ear of the musician. Regardless, the act of tuning is a tremendously important thing and should not be left to a machine. If the musician depends on an instrument to self-tune and then, during playing , has to retune, how would this be done with a self-tuning instrument? Honest question. Would the strings have to be temporarily played open to let the instrument self-tune? In the case of ragas like Marwa or Multani or Gujari Tori etc where there is no Ma but only Tivra Ma - would the musician be somehow strumming an open ma (natural) string in the midst of a raga that does not have that pitch?

Not trying to start trouble. But I have no idea how a self-tuning instrument tunes (that is, what the musician has to do to get the instrument to tune itself). But if it does involve strumming an open string? There is a major issue there.

But more importantly, this just sounds like something that would disassociate the musician from the raga.

If I be missing something here please say so.

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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #4 
Nope, you are not missing anything.
You have very valid points.

For me it was just a fun thing to think about.
I dont want a self tuning sitar, but it is certainly possible.

I would not look to deep into it as it is just a fun idea rather than something that would take the sitar world by storm.
No self respecting professional sitarist would use one.
Quite honestly a well made sitar can be tuned easily and fairly quickly.
Guitar tuning machines make studio sitars easier to tune, but it aint that big a deal.

The reason it is attractive for a guitar is that in rock guitar we beat the crap out of a guitar.
When you are on stage under the hot lights and you are really whacking the guitar they can go out of tune easily.
In a rock band it is hard to retune quickly because the other instrument are playing and it can be very loud.
If you use a digital tuner you can tune by the light visually, but it can be confusing sometimes.
For a touring guitarist, it would be a joy to be able to have the guitar tune itself.

If you want to know how they tune themselves there are explanations at the links I put above.

Like I said, it is just a fun thing to think about.
In reality a self tuning sitar would definitely be overkill.
If you have trouble tuning a sitar you can just get a studio sitar with guitar tuners.
That should be enough to make it easier.

Personally my sitars tune easily and stay in tune.
My Ma goes south occasionally, but moving the swan fixes that.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #5 
Yo CW! I did check the links but couldn't find anything that really clarified it for me. I gather there is some kind of piezoelectric pickup that sends a signal for tuning the strings. I'm not clear how the tuning occurs or what kind of mechanism the pegs have.

And yes, I know your penchant for creative thinking. I recall a couple of years ago suggesting you put your mind to a folding grand piano!

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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #6 
Oooh, a folding grand piano........now there is an idea.
I like thinking of wacky stuff.
I think my last one was the inflatable toomba travel sitar. :? 8)

Most of these kind of ideas usually make a less than ideal instrument.
But they are fun to think about.

Here is a video explaining the self tuning guitar.
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Mulamoodan

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Reply with quote  #7 
I already got the patent for PPS (Parda Positioning System) which is motorized repositioning of the frets for faster switches between ragas using different Re's or Dha's. 8)
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povster

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Mulamoodan"
I already got the patent for PPS (Parda Positioning System) which is motorized repositioning of the frets for faster switches between ragas using different Re's or Dha's. 8)
You should also apply for the MSFFR (Microtonal Sruti Fret Fine Repositioner) to help with those pesky microtones! 8)

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