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`hege

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Reply with quote  #1 
I am a completely new to ICM and the Sitar, and here is a philisophical question after more than a month of practicing and trying to find my voice in the instrument.

Every evening before bedtime I sit to practice with my instrument for about half an hour, sometimes more. After doing a lot of sargam and alankar for that time, to close, I tend to just plink and pluck away, exploring wherever the mood takes me. Often I arrive at a fingering sequence that I will ruminate over for considerable time, and then I might remember and use that again on the next night when I end my practice time with this exploration time. I call this "floating with the universe", a phrase that will date me :wink: .
So, over time I have wound up with a few strings of notes and sequences that I like to play together, and they are more and more seeming to be an expression of my moods, and feelings, and that's part of all of this, right?
The ICM structure seems so complex, yet simple, and seems to have allowed for all variations of notes and melody over it long history.
There is a saying that a roomful of monkeys pounding on typewriters will eventually come up with " War and Peace". Will my random "thoughts", organized into correct structure likely turn out to be a form of some raag? It seems that there should be nothing new under the sun.... :?:
'hege
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #2 
There are enough raags in existence to fill the study of countless lifetimes! When starting I remember coming up with things on my own...a variant of Durga where shuddh dhaivat is replaced by a komal nishabh. Turned out that both Mahdmad Sarang and Megh fit that classification!

Free experimentation of course is great fun (as long as it doesn't lead to this:
) (or this:
). But what I like to do, even when I technically haven't been taught a raga, is to learn what I can about its basic structure, listen to my favorite players perform it (a lot!!! listening is one of the greatest learning tools available), and then improvise...within the structure. Technically I haven't been taught Aarabi, Darbari, Bhupali, Bhimpalasi, or Basant Mukhari, but for instance, yesterday I was listening to a surbahar alap while driving of Basant Mukhari by Ust Imrat Khan. All the way I was soaking it up, singing along even a bit, really starting to absorb the character of the raag. Now I haven't been taught anything about this raag aside knowing which notes are used, but I couldn't help myself playing it when I got home. Was it a proper playing of the raag? Good Lord no, but it was great fun. So I guess that's the right balance I've found for myself...try to still stay in the loose confines of a raga structure and improvise away. Then later when you learn more about them you can refine your understanding of the raag (as I have done, or rather, am beginning to do, for Yaman, which at the beginning I just treated as a simple Lydian mode, without regard to the other components of Yaman).

Another way to look at it is to see Indian raag sort of like chords in the West. When I was a kid I would tinker around on my guitar and try various fingerings for chords I thought sounded good...having no idea what the chords were of course, but now I know that just about any crazy chord I could come up with could be named and formulated in chord theory...its not that I was creating new chords, it was more that I was stumbling across them on my own instead of being taught them in a music theory course. Western chords have a nature and character that derives from intervals of its components in relation to its root, which is essentially equally true for ragas.

Now I'm gibbering...sorry for prattling on, been a slow work day...
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`hege

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Reply with quote  #3 
I was hoping some answers would take that form, nicnuefeld. I am doing a lot of listening as well as practicing, so doubtless there is something creeping into my journeys.

And I promise my freeform is NOTHING like the links you posted!!!

You have eased my mind a bit for sure. I have prior experience with stringed instruments from decades ago, so the transition is not too difficultas far as the physical playing of the instrument, but I suppose the recognition of what I am actually accomplishing will come with time, as I get more and more familiar with the myriad raags, I hope.

So, for the time being, without a teacher, my methods are going to have to be more of the listen a whole lot, practice sargam and alankars on my Sitar, and use "mimic" method to try and learn the Raags that strike me. I know this is not traditional method, but it is what I can manage right now...

I feel very pulled by the Alap (style?) in general for most of the Raags I have heard. Sorry if the wording is not correct, so many new terms to learn. I envy those who can arrange a teacher for this journey. Maybe someday...

Thanks NN
'hege
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povster

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hi 'hege!

Just call it Alap. I wrote a simple breakdown of the parts of a raga here.

http://forums.chandrakantha.com/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=10017

It is nothing profound: just some basic info for folks starting out.

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Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
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`hege

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Reply with quote  #5 
I read that one thread before, (you thought you heard some lurking the last couple months?) and this time around it makes far more sense Somewhere the spirit of the forum is singing!
It seems overwhelming though. I shoulda started this journey a handful of decades ago...geez. Well, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a good Sitar, and I have that at least, if not the time to become proficient. (Although I think I could put Chinmoy (RIP brother) in the haybales LOL)
My name is `hege...and I like ALAP. There I said it. :mrgreen:
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povster

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "`hege"
My name is `hege...and I like ALAP. There I said it. :mrgreen:
Welcome 'hege.

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Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
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cabernethy

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Reply with quote  #7 
Welcome Hege, if it helps any, I too am a fully fledged Alap addict. Have fun

Carl
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #8 
Count me in amongst alap fans. Particularly as a player...it's easier to really enjoy the resonance of the tarab in alap, and its also less challenging for me...I've developed some amateurish competence in meend, jhalla, and various ornamentations, but conversely fast up and down taans are manifestly beyond my ability to do properly. I practice them for my teacher, and to improve, but I play in the alap style for my own enjoyment!
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`hege

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "nicneufeld"
... but I play in the alap style for my own enjoyment!
My meager skills not withstanding, you've hit it on the head nn, of all that I have heard so far, Alap moves me deeply. My interpretations so far are just that, truly I just enjoy playing in that deliberate manner, exploring those little tarab overtones... indeed there is a little rush of happiness when those symps light up. I crave it.

I am currently listening to Marwa/Imrat Khan on surbahar, and I am absolutely dying of goose bumps...
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #10 
The interesting thing is - and this from a fellow "alap-addict" -
the interesting thing is when you play alap for your typical
western listener, they don't think you are playing music
AT ALL !! "Noodling" was the term used by more than one
western alap victim. In one case this was applied to VK
alap of the most sublime intent....... "noodling" ops:

As in "why is he noodling on the instrument and when is he
going to pay a song or something real??"
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willow

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Reply with quote  #11 
Another alap fan(appreciator?) here, it is a bit like a slow, calm, peaceful but very meaningful and respectful introduction to whatever unfolds or is beyond if you go further and then back again(sorry if that isn't of any sense).
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cabernethy

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Reply with quote  #12 
Interesting, I have found that in terms of musical 'depth' the alap for me anyways reaches the lowest point, fast passages always seem to more a display of technique than depth.


Of course it's true that I am so unskilled that I would not attempt anything above a slow/mid tempo

Carl
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