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Junior Member
Posts: 5
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










John Pitts

Junior Member
Posts: 9
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]

All further comments/questions welcome!

Warm wishes,
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