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Posts: 1,937
Reply with quote  #1 
I was a bit torn on this idea as well. What I finally came to realize is that the level of expertise one achieves with an instrument is relative to the people who hear the end result and also compared to the level of satisfaction gained by the person playing. I've seen and heard various people who by most standards would be considered total hacks. Yet these players are thrilled with what they are doing and in many cases are warmly received by their respective audiences. Despite their lack of formal instruction, whether desired or not, the interest and borderline devotion to the instrument and music is commendable. There must be a level of personal satisfaction regardless as to how that effort sounds to our ears. Most of us here also have a working knowledge of the music and make references to assorted recordings of the Ustads and Pandits. Not really a fair comparison considering the skill and training levels. I couldn't devote hours of study and practice to one instrument. That would be no fun at all. Gotta be fun ! I certainly couldn't relate to the process as prayer - not my thing at all. I suspect that the majority of forumites here are amateurs, good and bad by conventional standards. In a sense, amateurs are the real heroes of the music. They (we) are kinda the backbone of the music and provide a purpose ( dumping ground with our ears ) for those magnificent devoted stalwarts who've invested their lives in mastering their respective instrument. We, the vanguard of tomorrows cosmopolitans, salute these masters. As an easy target of hyper criticism and bolstered by the shelter of internet anonimity, most of us would prefer not to demonstrate our instrumental skill ( or lack of ) to the world at large. In plugging my instrument builds on YouTube, I got all kinds of flak about not hitting the chikari strings properly, lacking meend technique and even a suggestion of having a qualified player take over the strings. Who needs that !?! I figure I'm good enough to strut it in an Indian restaurant on a Friday night and leave it at that. Not bad for a hack. Fortunately I have an out - the instruments I build and fix. Great satisfaction there. Playing for public scrutiny has no appeal at all. Most here would agree I think which pretty much answers the question posed.

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Posts: 746
Reply with quote  #2 
hello again d

Just jumped over here.
Interesting question I'll try to give my response this way:
I AM a amateur...completely lacking in the discipline necessary to be even a mediocre player. At least I've gotten past the point of torturing my cats & having them (especially my Bengal) yowling & growling in protest while I play. I have also progressed past the point of torturing my wife with endless repetitious variations of sa re ga ma.
I own Five magnificent & wonderful sitars, a masterpiece vocal tambura, and a nice instrumental that was a gift.
I have had the cheek to post my opinions many times...I'm VERY opinionated on many topics :twisted:
I've even been bold enough to play in front of PEOPLE
The ONE area for me just as tony I too have an out - I've worked with music production & been a live sound engineer since I started schlepping equipment 45 years ago. 32 of those years with every form of Indian music imaginable.

What is my motivation you ask?
Where do I get ANY knowledge to comment on ICM on this forum?
How did I come to work - enjoy - play this music?
I've told this story before...but in case you missed it.

A man walked into my little music store in 1982 & asked if I rented out sound equipment?
When I said yes he asked if I knew anything about Indian music. I told him I had a couple Ravi Shankar albums from the 60' .... Patric Marks said " good enough"
All thru the 80' & 90' Patric & I worked together on 30 or more shows a year. I have been very fortunate & miced up hundreds of Indian events large & small...big 1st generation Indian -American children whose parents wanted them in touch with their culture.
After leaving the music business professionally & going to work for the local power company for insurance & a pension I NEVER stopped working with Patric nor our local Hindu temple & cultural center. He had become my dearest friend & mentor...a second father, and beloved by my family?

So how did I come to play????? Get more than just a technicians perspective of this music & these instruments?

Simple... Patric told us he had been diagnosed with leukemia.
After digesting that devastating news my wife & I were having a meal with Patric & his wife & I turned to him & said:
" You know after all these years you've never offered to teach me sitar"
Patrics response;
" You NEVER asked"

For the next three and a half years before his death at 73 I threw myself into learning. Practiced every day. Even till the blood came...super glue or band aids & practiced some more.
Never in the hopes of being a good musician... Playing or posting clips for anyone other than Patric.
It was Just for us...just for him...
It was a way I could spend a couple hours a week with my best friend before he was gone forever.
I collected beautiful instruments. Listened to hundreds of hours of magnificent music, to understand his teachings. Heard all his stories of his life as a student and teacher of the Indore Gharana from the musicians perspective. Commissioned a beautiful instrument from Tony K because patric told me he was producing the best new instruments....and became extremely close to Tony as a bonus. (First met tony thru Patric in 99 when Tony was on tour with Panditji & Patric set up a concert here).

Patric left us six years ago and I've kept at it ... Taken lessons from Gaurav Mazumdar (another bonus friend made thru Patric) who has helped us keep Patrics lifetime commitment to musical education alive in the Chicagoland region.
I Helped Tony choose to settle in Chicagoland for many reasons ....FOREMOST I believed it would be a great move for Tony and his family the BONUS was it helped in promoting the musical legacy here.

I told patric I would always stay involved & help promote this music using my expertise at making instruments...musicians....ustads...pandits...& children sound like they're at Carnegie Hall for as long as I can.

My lessons & study have given me a MUCH deeper knowledge of the nuances of how to make a musician & their instrument sing whether at a home show with a small system or at our hall with our 10,000 watt 32 channel setup utilizing our JBL line array & all the bells & whistles professional gear.

THIS & more is why I own these instruments - study this music - & have the effrontery to post opinions here.
For the love of a friend...and the music HE loved.

Brian 8)

Ps: I do play for our annual get togethers to mark Patrics passing... The friends I've made-students of Patrics - they indulge & are VERY kind to me...I play for members of our temple on occasion...they too are kind to ask.
My most precious musical possessions (I have a LOT) is Patrics 69-70 Hemen he kept under the piano & pulled out to teach with,
His wife put it in my keeping after patric died..I ONLY play it for myself at special times......and my book of lessons penned in his hand that will be passed on like a family bible. If all this doesn't make sense then let's leave it at this:

Friend d:
I will probably NEVER post a clip...never be REAL musician in most if not all peoples eyes ... But I really DON't care. I take this just a little too personally to really care what anyone thinks of my mediocre noodlings :wink:

Pps: I will still keep posting opinions & observations...paid enough dues I think...if I'm wrong about something I will gladly defer to anyone, master, or beginner who corrects my errors anticipation of that I say:
"So sorry to have been mistaken"


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Posts: 1,937
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi, Daryush. Your observations are on the spot. There are some over hyped and over self hyped players out there who cloud the image of the music and artists. Some have been featured here on the forum to great amusement. Shr Chinmoy ( for his instrumental attacks ) and some other bogus pandit come to mind. Sadly, a lot of the ears that are subjected to these promoters get taken in and miss out on the good stuff. Having played professionally for a number of years yet always wary of being challenged by someone who has lots of meaty chops and the formal instruction, I always qualify my presentations and teaching as "what I've picked up". It's a safe angle and accurate as well. I know what you mean about dealing with pain too. Pulled a muscle in my leg months back that has left me now unable to tuck my foot under to rest the gourd on while playing. Tabla ring to the rescue. What to do !?! Hope you are able to manage what you're going through with a smile and some degree of positive outlook. Anyway, we all soldier on regardless of the level of performance or ranking we may have achieved. Cheers ! ! !

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Posts: 1,564
Reply with quote  #4 
Interesting topic and discussion!

Count me in amongst the hacks. I have a constant blanket of guilt hovering over me, because while I'm learning regularly from a great master (an opportunity not everyone gets) I always feel I'm squandering it a bit, in that I never practice as much as I should. A demanding career, a family with two small kids, keeping up with the house,'s very easy to go days without riyaz sometimes. I do record my lessons and take extensive notes though, because while things may be busy and frenetic now, when I retire in twenty or thirty years, I will have those to go back to and devote myself to. I've been playing since 2011, so I suppose, not really all that long.

I see your point about the hypocrisy angle...somebody who plays like Sri Chinmoy but doesn't put himself forward as a great musician or an authority gets much more of a pass. Now, if you play like that and market yourself as a sitar guru and heir to some gharana, then yes, you are asking for derision!

I remember a couple of travelling kirtan-wallahs who did a Yoga session I also played sitar for...the music was I-IV-V-IV chord progressions in C on a harmonium, and the melodies were straight Western (or bilawal, you might say). I found amusing irony that they considered this very mystical and Eastern...going to India to buy an instrument that was brought by Western missionaries, to bring it back to the US to play Western music on. Ah well, they mean well, I suppose.
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