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barend

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Reply with quote  #1 
Was listening to an Imrat Khan sitar recording and I noticed he is using a high Pa fret. Meending from high Pa to high Sa and even high Re. Never heard this before by other players. I don't think he has an extra fret but just moved his high Ma fret to high Pa. On a KP style sitar this is not really possible because of the bone side pieces/neck joint right after the high Ma fret. But maybe on a GP sitar this is possible?
Also came across this picture where you can see he moved the high Ma fret:
http://rootstrata.com/rootblog/?p=2526

I also read an article that Ravi Shankar in his last days had a special sitar by Rikhi Ram with an extra high Pa fret.

I think this is a great idea for ragas with no Ma like Bhupali and Hansadhvani.
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #2 
Which recording? I think I recall him hitting REAL high Sa on the Hamsadhwani on the Harmonia Mundi album.

The irony of that Ajmer disc cover, the sitar recording on that album is Imratkauns which has no Pancham.

I think you'd also need a nicer jawari than I have, at least, to play that high with decent tone and sustain. Mine starts to choke out a bit above Pa.
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barend

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Reply with quote  #3 
It's this recording. High part starts at 7:40 but there are several other places. Sometimes going as high as high Re from the Pa fret. Those passages seem unplayable from the ma fret especially at that speed and with those tones. So I am pretty sure it must be from the Pa fret.

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Originally Posted by "nicneufeld"

The irony of that Ajmer disc cover, the sitar recording on that album is Imratkauns which has no Pancham.
Of course that photo could have been taken anytime. Not necessarily during the recording of that album.
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #4 
I have seen a couple of sitars with the #20 fret well onto the bone strips. Not the convention, to be sure but certainly possible. Simply a matter of filing the bone bits to match the profile of the neck top strips and sides. Double high RE on a sitar - first time I've heard that one. Great jawari, especially considering the extreme string angle at the bridge leading edge and string tension. Ever evolving - the sitar. Enjoying it all.
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barend

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
I have seen a couple of sitars with the #20 fret well onto the bone strips. Not the convention, to be sure but certainly possible. Simply a matter of filing the bone bits to match the profile of the neck top strips and sides.
Yes, tried to move my ma fret to pa. But it doesn't really work because of the decorations on the back of the neck and also because on some sitars you can feel the neck joint a little bit. This makes it hard to move the fret ties across that point. You have to move the fret a whole step which is quit a bit. Also the fret ties will wear out a lot because of that. An extra Pa fret could be a good idea I think. Not sure if this is possible though construction wise. There must be a good reason why for ages the last fret is ma and not pa in the first place?
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #6 
Yep, that recording is the Harmonia Mundi one I was thinking of. Great stuff, a good Jhinjhoti (the gats to which he once taught me) and what was to me a very formative Yaman surbahar alap-jor-jhalla. That composition in Hamsadhwani has always just slightly eluded me because of its very vocal style... As I recall, G/P, P\G, R S-'N-S-'N-'P, R, S-R G, S S. He does it very fluidly. And I love the interplay with Pt Kumar Bose near the end, reminded me of some Carnatic percussion stuff I've heard (which I suppose would be fitting given Hamsadhwani's origins).

But high Pa is where I give out. Neither my fingers nor my jawari tone can be trusted beyond there, unless I crack out the guitar steel and do it vichitra veena style!
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #7 
Good point NicNue, about the use of slide for the highest registers on the baj. Even by high RAY-GA the jawari is ill-suited to the angle of the string over the bridge, nor is it likely this will ever be improved. IMHO this is the reason tradition has not seen more of the high PA fret.

I am increasingly favoring the use of slide for the highest notes because the jawari is still effective when slide is used up there and there is PLENTY of clearance between the baj and the frets in that portion of the neck to make very good use of a heavy slide. I am actually building in a mount for my steel slide on the latest surbahar, it will be on the lower, smaller horn of our "tabli Plate" where I can easily access it on the fly when I am playing up there. GF
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barend

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Reply with quote  #8 
Yes I know the high notes can get choked especially the high Sa (3rd octave). Yet on that recording it sounds clear all to way up to the high Re. So somehow it is possible to set up the jawari for that.

Using a slide is not very practical. How will you do that in the middle of a tan?

Btw This recording is from 1974 yet it doesn't sound like it's that old. It is the best thing I have heard from Imrat Khan.
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #9 
By slightly rounding the front edge of the bridge, the jawari becomes effectively a fixed bridge on the highest notes - like a guitar or a violin. So in a very real sense, there IS no "jawari" up there.

I will find ways to deploy my steel slide, if we limited ourselves to what is practical (or even what is "possible") the sitar and the incredible technique that has been developed to play it would not even exist : )

As for taans!! You flatter me Barend, in my dotage I find I am playing primarily Surbahar and mostly alap. If I ever was capable of ripping off a taan, those days are behind me now...........
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kalyan

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Reply with quote  #10 
I think the main problem with a high Pa fret on most sitars would be that the neck is starting to flare out at that point, so if you tie a fret on it will want to slide down the tapered part toward the ma fret. Even if you tied it so tight that it would not move it would not be adjustable since flattening it would make it loose and sharpening it would be impossible due to the wider neck, for the same reason it is not practical to try to move the ma fret up to Pa because it would ruin the fret tie. If the neck stays even far up enough it can work fine( you can see in the picture of UIK's sitar that the fret is still before the joint, but on many sitars a Pa fret will need to be past that point). Also most jewaris will not have been set for a fret that is not on the instrument so you would probably need some adjusting done.
If your sitar seems chocked doing big meends on the high ma fret doing some heavy playing in that range can open it right up.
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #11 
Re the side topic I accidentally introduced...that is, the guitar slide...I actually, in my first few overeager months with a sitar, bought one of those strap on finger slides that attach via a velcro strap to one finger, and thought about using it on the third finger. Never worked very well. I think part of the issue is, the string tension on a sitar is necessarily much, much slacker than a lap steel, for instance. More mass in the slide would help, but it just wasn't a very tenable solution. The sound was weak and thin, lacking the tension against the slide that you would get with a tighter string tensions.
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #12 
Yes, good point, but my slide is very heavy and I can use plenty of pressure in the upper registers because of all the string clearance there. Or....... raise the strings at the targahan, slap some heavy gauges on there, and turn it into a chitra veena........ the mind reels at the thought
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #13 
Just did a little online research and found I can use the same string gauges we use on our surb (.013 plain steel MA, .018 nickel wound steel SA drone etc) but tune the 38.5" scale surb up to D (drone) and get 28 pounds of string tension - poifect for slide. I will also have excellent, bright tone since the string lengths and tension fall within the ideal range. What I will do is make two targahan - one for use on the standard (fretted) Surbahar, the other targahan set much higher for slide. Then I can leave the frets in place, they will make nice markers for the chitra-veena, ala dobro which often have fret markings. I may have to change strings when making the switch but that ain't no big deal (6 main strings only, the taraf can stay the same gauge).

Since our targahan is by design instantly replaceable, I can experiment and I am looking forward to doing just that on our new, factory demo "convertible" surb/chitra veena......... yum! Far off topic again (sigh) but a fun concept.......... GF
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AllenDS

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Reply with quote  #14 
I just thought it would be worth mentioning how much fun it is to see surprised looks on people's faces when I use a finger nail of my fretting hand as a slide to play impossibly high notes. To be sure, it's an amusing thing to do most sparingly.
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #15 
Ahhhhhh ! ! ! A little Sarangi technique on the high notes. Now that's using your head ( and fingers ). Brilliant ! ! ! I like it ! ! !
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