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ragamala2

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Reply with quote  #16 

Hi John 

 

I agree my comment on 32 thaats was a little obscure in meaning. In fact I don't now understand it! ;-)

What I think I meant to say was that I was a little surprised to find the reference to 32 thaats, which is to my mind a little confusing (not least because you seem to name some thaats by Carnatic names rather than Hinsustani eg Kokilapriya, as I now find by looking a bit more through the Google books preview). Ten thaats is confusing enough for an introduction to ICM, especially when this is only a rough guide anyway, and broken as much in the breach than the observance, as eg even Raga Khamaj shows a difference from what you might expect from its thaat, similarly Desh. You also introduce ragas which will not often be met in sitar performances, if at all, eg your "Chakravaak", although I assume this may be Ahir Bhairav or thereabouts. I would have thought that if introducing westerners to ICM it would be most helpful to base all the introductory ragas on ones that could be found easily in the sitar (and other ICM) discographies, for comparison purposes and to understand the feel of the raga. I also still feel any book entitled play sitar raga should have at least a discussion and demonstration of teental, and in particular Masitkhani gat, which is ubiquitous in performance, and the inclusion of only 5 fast teental gats out of 50, the others mostly Keharva and some obscure, would not have been my choice. I understand you yourself say in the book you have omitted it because it is more difficult, but to omit slow/medium teental entirely for that reason at the same time as eg including extensive tihai examples feels a little odd to me, especially when you say you are targeting the book at good amateur pianists through to virtuosic professionals.

However, I am sure the ideas coming out of the raga material you have provided and written is by far the most useful aspect of the book, and an interesting new resource. Unfortunately I can say not much about the ragas, as I am not a pianist or sight reader (unlike my wife, who I am sure would like to test drive this!)

 

Best wishes

Alan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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John Pitts

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Reply with quote  #17 
Hi Alan,

many thanks for your insightful comments.  The title of the book was very difficult to arrive at, in that what the book is attempting to do is somewhat new and not easy to explain in a short phrase - and I tried to find a title that most efficiently got across what the book was about.  The 24 raags in it are specifically reimagined/composed for piano, with both the limitations and the opportunities that playing raags on a piano presents.  One of the big compositional challenges is to capture the essence and soundworld of ICM on an instrument without the possibility of meend, and on an instrument whose sound/timbre has no association with Indian music.  Part of the solution was to find ways of over-emphasizing typical Indian characteristics that are actually possible on a piano to compensate in part for the ones which are not. 

The thaats, for example: the few most common thaats are also in use in western music, and therefore if you play a melody using one of those thaats on a piano it is very unlikely to sound Indian.  So, although I did use all the 'ten most common' thaats at least once each in the book, I also used quite a number of others (either with a Carnatic raga connection, or a newly invented raga) - thaats which contain for example more minor third leaps or pairs of minor seconds.  And, like my use of talas, I tried to include as great a variety as possible - to include as much interest as possible within the 150+ pages of actual music.  My book is fundamentally a book of music to play, and improvise with, within some typical raag structures.  And yes, the music is mostly 'new', but within typical ICM conventions, and much of it within specific traditional raags. 

The use of the word 'sitar' in the title - while I could have called the book simply "How to play Indian Raags on a Piano", there are some features specifically of a sitar that I have tried to emulate on the piano - eg: the cascading sympathetic strings at the start and end of a performance, and the jhalla section with the typical patterns of strummed chikari strings.

Re the Masitkhani gat - please see pp68-69 (and p16) of the preview - Raag 1 gat 1 in my book is an adaptation of a Masid Khan structure, albeit adapted to 2x8beat phrases within a very slow Keherwa Tal.  Bear in mind that this music is intended to be playable by a single pianist (without tabla player) - with the left hand fulfilling some of the role both of tabla and tambura.

And please do ask your wife to test drive it - either the downloadable pdf or the book itself [smile] http://www.pianoraag.com

All further comments/questions welcome!

Warm wishes,
John
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jazzman1945

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Reply with quote  #18 
Hi, I'm a newbie here - jazz pianist and teacher from Israel. I was immediately interested in this book, because it was written for pianists, who obviously never tried to play ICM . Probably, I shouldn't talk about entire colonies of Israelites in some areas in India; and as a result - the strong influence of the ICM on popular Israeli music in general. Only they all come with guitars, and no one - with the piano [smile]. Therefore, when viewed from the perspective of my 46 years of pedagogical experience in teaching jazz and acquaintance with music of K. Jarrett, W.A. Mathieu and Vagif Mustafa-zade (who greatly influenced me) , it can be said quite rightly, that this book is the first key to the door leading the pianists in a tremendous , and for most of them unknown world of enchanting music.
Those purists who immediately began to criticize the usefulness of the book because of the inability to perform melodic curves on the piano, I would like to ask: I have not heard anything critical  for decades about the blues textbooks for piano , although in principle there is no difference - the whole blues flavor is hidden in the blues notes, not in printed notes.
I liked the video from  post #7 , it gave the idea of creating a tutorial for keyboard players  with slide control. But this is not for me ...
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John Pitts

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Reply with quote  #19 
Thanks, JazzMan1945! Some really good points!
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jazzman1945

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Reply with quote  #20 
John, I got your book, and  I study it with great pleasure. I think to place the review of it  in Amazon   .
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John Pitts

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Reply with quote  #21 
Brilliant - thank you - so glad you're enjoying it!
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jazzman1945

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Reply with quote  #22 

Question on book: I didn't find examples of using a resonant drone, which is possible on an acoustic  piano - as  in   attachment .  Is not practical for ICM ?

 
Attached Files
mp3 oriental jazz improvising on drone.mp3 (2.33 MB, 4 views)

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John Pitts

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Reply with quote  #23 
Ok, that's pretty cool - how is it done? Selective sustain pedal with certain notes held down?  I have used selective sustain in one or two compositions (once for 4 particular notes, once for much of the lower half of the piano for general ambient resonance) but not in this book. I don't think it occurred to me(!).  I have come across contemporary piano pieces using an electronic device to provide sustained notes on certain strings, but one of the basic parameters for the book is that it is designed for one (or more) pianists and a normal piano (with nothing else necessary). I'll have a think - thanks for the suggestion - maybe an optional extra to get a mention in any second edition (for any pianos that have a selective sustain pedal). 
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jazzman1945

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Reply with quote  #24 
I've been experimenting  with different combinations of soundlessly pressed keys  in the lower register . Of course, a middling selective sustain pedal  , if available in the instrument,   is the best solution, releasing the left hand for an additional  part . I have a feeling that the quality of resonance of drone is influenced by  choice of keys in accordance with the main overtones of piano case; my old Bluethner responds to a soft kick on the body by  F, a sharp kick causes,  naturally , C one and a half octaves higher.
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John Pitts

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Reply with quote  #25 
Hi again jazzman1945, on reflection I think I did think about it in the early stages of writing the book; and came to the conclusion that although there could be some specific resonances with a selective sustain pedal, a) most pianos don't have one so it wasn't a practical thing to write for, and b) simply permanently holding the sustain pedal down (or at least half-down) results in the loudest ambient sound; and when the left hand is repeating a particular collection of drone notes, naturally those notes and their frequencies in the harmonic series higher up will resonate most - giving the closest possible to the desired effect of imitating the soundworld of the tambura.  Hence that is the instruction in the book - to hold the sustain pedal down (or put a brick on it!).  But I certainly understand the appeal of playing and experimenting with such things.  Warm wishes.
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jazzman1945

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Reply with quote  #26 
I think that finger drones have a right to exist.

https://yadi.sk/d/Ke1ksRqX3PWZka
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John Pitts

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Reply with quote  #27 
Absolutely! Very cool.
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jazzman1945

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Reply with quote  #28 
Thanks ,John, but from a musical point this wasn't particularly successful. "The Gypsy principle" didn't work ...
BTW ,why did not you announce your book on pianoworld.com ?
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