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JRJ

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Reply with quote  #16 
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I don't think or believe though, that western players even with a good teacher or 'Guru' can really achieve what a person from northern India might be able to express or at least the style of that expression without carrying a lot
of baggage into the ring.
If I could say this in a slightly different way it might be more clear; I am not intending to make the kind of distinction that generates a 'position'
that is opposed by some other position; all the points of view are valid. In fact I like what Max is saying about "total emersion", I think that what my sitar playing needs or would benefit from would be a higher dose of "emersion". But take Max as an example:
Quote:
...Best would be to completely stop listening to Western Music and move to India. Thats what I did...
I am just trying to point out that if you have been brought up in the West you are imprinted with that conditioning, most obviously the language.
Moving to India will not make you Indian, obviously, and whether it will make you a better sitarist is probably a unique individual thing; but it could make you much more sensitive to Indian music ...

My interest (or perhaps theory) is that the instrument itself has universal knowledge and information (programed) into it that is most elegantly expressed as music but also as craftsmanship that transcends or extends beyond the culture of origin. If that is true then a western player would naturally filter 'that' music in different ways.

So what seems to be overlooked if one could see the pursuit as a kind of game, say the way that Hess does in the "Glass Bead Game" is that "I am from the west and I want my sitar playing to reflect that" and at the same time be reverent and respectful of where it comes from.
Simple right? :| I think that Max's Echo Project does this in a spectacular way but I also think that it can be done or expressed in how one plays.
Two quick examples would be that Clem Alford leans toward India but is clearly Western and Colin Walcott is clearly western and leans toward the west.

jRj
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #17 
Is the silly previous post implying ANY Indian will be a better player than ANY NON-Indian? :?

What utter rubbish if it is. We've ALL heard some appalling sitar players from India. I know I certainly have as I'm a frequent visitor there. 8)

Is there some kind of jealousy here? :wink:

Nick
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JRJ

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Reply with quote  #18 
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Is the silly previous post implying ANY Indian will be a better player than ANY NON-Indian?

What utter rubbish if it is. We've ALL heard some appalling sitar players from India. I know I certainly have as I'm a frequent visitor there.

Is there some kind of jealousy here?

I rest my case

jRj
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coyootie

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Reply with quote  #19 
I think it's been flogged as a dead horse before- you simply play sitar, or do any artistic thing, because you love it or are compelled by forces beyond understanding to do it.
and it HAS been said before: has ANY nonIndian ever been accepted as a fully regarded ICM , credited, authorized, musician? the answer, NO, "Oh how nice Eddie has played sitar for 40 years, how interesting, and he's a Westerner."
You will never be paid at the higher Indian end,even if you play better'n any pandit or ustad.And in fact to be accepted as a REAL musician and not a novelty- ever heard of one?
Basically the opportunity for an ICM musician outside India is:
a. teaching, if extraordinarily lucky, in a university
b. teaching privately for minimum wage,or less
c. doing pass-the-hat poetry reading accompanist gigs in small bookstores
d. playing at renaissance faires for middle eastern exotic dancers
anyone have any other prospects/ ideas?
actually, even for a native Indian musician, even a very good one, making-a-living- with-music is pretty grim nowadays.much like any OTHER type of musician.
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #20 
cayootie
Yes I was thinking exactly that.
It seems a virus has entered the forums. LOL

Didn't we all think it was this Parrikar chappie who betrayed his own genius & intelligence by spouting some rubbish too????

I rest my case
jRj
:wink:
JRJ

Glad we agree, thanks.

Nick
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #21 
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Originally Posted by "coyootie"
Basically the opportunity for an ICM musician outside India is:
a. teaching, if extraordinarily lucky, in a university
b. teaching privately for minimum wage,or less
c. doing pass-the-hat poetry reading accompanist gigs in small bookstores
d. playing at renaissance faires for middle eastern exotic dancers
anyone have any other prospects/ ideas?
I've played for modest amounts for yoga studios to have a "live music class". Tabla player friend arranges them, I just look on it as a chance to practice with a tabla player and then get to walk out with a very slightly enhanced billfold.

As in the other scenarios generally while the yoga folks may be very emotionally appreciative, there is no understanding of the music, or appreciation in that sense. Ah well, like I say, its a practice opportunity I get paid for, so it works quite well!

Wedding gigs are not uncommon. The one we had lined up was err, postponed indefinitely... But I know a couple other sitarists in Missouri who have done things like that, and other social events.

But yeah, I'll agree, hard to make a living on it, I'm hopelessly in the red on it with money I spend on lessons and instruments. Being in my early 30s, I look on it as a hobby and skill I can nurse along over the next few decades and perhaps teach when I retire....preferably along the target-rich hippie haven of the beautiful central California coast...but that of course depends on how well my normal career goes!
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JRJ

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Reply with quote  #22 
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... you simply play sitar, or do any artistic thing, because you love it or are compelled by forces beyond understanding to do it...
This is the crux of the biscuit; the love and the "forces beyond understanding" that I am talking about anyway, and even though I agree with everything Alan is saying about the commerce of being a musician, Indian or otherwise I think it is perhaps more interesting and by any means not a dead
horse to look under the rug to see if some of those "forces" might be conjured from the darkness to the realm of understanding. Yes?
Quote:
It seems a virus has entered the forums. LOL

Didn't we all think it was this Parrikar chappie who betrayed his own genius & intelligence by spouting some rubbish too????
Not totally sure of your meaning, me a virus; or a germ? 8) I did read some of "Parrikar" but not in any depth, lots of information there
but Nick, is it true that you have good taste in old sitars but no taste for Peyote tea?

Kria mentioned in a post a while back and I don't have the exact quote but something to the effect of: ' my teacher said that being a sitarist
is not really about being an artist or performer but more about being a yogi'.

I think that sentiment changes the dynamic dramatically from money and show business to spirit, discipline and insight. If no one
is really listening anyway and there is no money in the game, well when the door shuts then the wind comes through the
window, right?. :|...

jRj
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #23 
but Nick, is it true that you have good taste in old sitars but no taste for Peyote tea?

Please please feel free to send some over & it'll be MY pleasure to try it out, thanks.

Oh And the Kria quote is exactly perfect.

N
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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #24 
I think it is silly to say that ANY Indian will be better than any non-Indian but I think it is also quite clear that in 40+ years that ICM music has been known in the West, we have yet to see a player of any ICM instrument that has reached the stature/skill of the great players like PNB, UVK or PRS or AAK / Amjad Ali or Hariprasad Chaurasia / Pannalal Ghosh. Even in India we see that there is a unusually large concentration of great musicians in Bengal and Maharashtra for Hindustani Sangeet anyway, though there are many notable exceptions like Bismillah Khan, BGAK and Omkarnath Thakur and some may argue that Benares is also a major center for ICM.

This does not mean that there are not any Westerners that are competent. I have seen many that are, but I have yet to hear a raag, any raag that is a definitive or essential performance of that raga by a Westerner. Yet I regularly hear astonishing performances of say Raag Yaman by some Indian kid I had never heard of every time I am in India or even often on Youtube. The AACM has produced several students that are pretty good, but none that I know of that are the same caliber as AAK or PNB or even of the same caliber as today's stars like USP, PBM, Kushal Das, Nishat, Shujaat etc...

It is my feeling that just immersion (go and live in India and wait for it to just soak in) is not the magic formula. I think that it is possible that we will see a great Western born ICM musician emerge in the next 25 years and the most critical element I think is a solid foundation with a really great teacher ( 5 years or more). This would probably involve a longish stint in India. I think that often the best performers are not the best teachers and most Westerners (or most people) tend to seek out good players. After this foundation is in place the great musicians will probably tend to learn on their own or learn from listening to emerging great musicians who might play different instruments or learn from great performances by closely studying them. This could just as easily happen in Prague or Ohio even though it might still be easier in Kolkata or Mumbai.

I grew up in India in the 70's and in those days the Bollywood music was very heavily influenced by ICM. (Not so true any more). So I knew a 100 songs in 30 raags by just walking around town and hearing the music that was playing on the streets before I ever decided I wanted to learn ICM. There are at least 20 really good songs based on Raag Yaman. If you knew these songs well, it would make it much easier to play and improvise in the raag. Some might say this gives you an advantage -- I used to surprise my teacher regularly by suddenly playing a new raag which I had learned by just copying and playing a Bollywood song. As you may know a song is a bandish or a gat. Once you have a halfway decent gat in your hand you can begin to explore the raag.

It is now possible to do this without actually going to India via the internet -- though I still think you want some solid foundations and so a teacher is very important in the beginning. You need to develop a solid foundation for your own discrimination. To be able to tell good from bad. You need to be able to tell when you are playing wrong or when a Bollywood song is taking liberties with the raag that most would advise you not to do.

The discussion thread on Up and coming sitar players in this forum has very few Westerners as well http://forums.chandrakantha.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=7034 but hopefully we see more.

I agree that it would be really hard to make a living doing nothing but ICM in the West - it is pretty hard in India as well. This is I think may be the biggest reason that we do not see more really great Western born ICM musicians. Hopefully that also changes in time but I think the advantages that India has had may not last too far into the future as the Gurukul system also struggles to keep going in India.

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Kirya
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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #25 
Actually I also read an interview somewhere -- or maybe heard this in the documentary that Scorcese made recently about George Harrison where he said he was not going to pursue his sitar playing very seriously anymore since "there are already a 1000 sitar players in India who play much better than me".

So playing the sitar really well is not for the faint hearted and even in India I recall people thought it was a pretty crazy passion since there was so little money in it and you had to work so hard to get anywhere noticeably good and even then you had no real chance of "making it big" unless you had a Beatle become your best friend.

Note that we have never seen the same kind of worldwide interest in the sarod or bansuri or veena or shenai or other wonderful instruments even though wonderful musicians exist there too.

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Kirya
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #26 
This is a fascinating but forlorn topic. Even in India - now - the music stores carry more western instruments (keyboards, guitars) than their own. ICM is going the way of western classical music, IE a very few highly skilled practitioners (who still struggle to make a living at least if they play in an orchestra), a handful of super stars.

In spite of those extremely talented, determined, and fortunate individuals who have made a fortune in music it remains a thankless career in any realistic economic assessment. Just look at all the virtuoso players playing for tips on the stages of Nashville. It is what it is, and (as long as I have been alive) what it has always been.

And yet music finds a way to change the world on a regular basis. All the best for 2014. GF
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CarbonSitars

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Reply with quote  #27 
Interesting topic. I think the issues that have been brought up here can apply to any philosophical discussion about art. If we look back into history, we can see that music is and has always been in a state of constant change, and ICM and the sitar are no exception. Even what many people think of as the epitome of the genre (19th/20th century masters and instruments) has really been only a slice of the music's history. Even then, those particular masters and their instruments displaced or even flat-out replaced earlier styles and traditions. However, I think it's best to look at it not that way, but as a long series of changes that necessarily took place as a result of those peoples' changing world views.

When it comes to the issue of authenticity, well, I tend to agree that it is exceedingly difficult for anyone to go back and truly replicate what has already been done. That goes for Westerners and Indians alike, for no one alive today shares the world views and experiences of people 100 or 200 years ago. Tradition can pass along knowledge, but never experiences. And it was these artists' and craftsmen's experiences and reactions to the world around them that led to their art.

When a contemporary painter attempts to mimic the style of say, the French Impressionists, the results may turn out lovely, but more often than not, it will merely be a shell of what that particular style said or meant. They might even go so far as to duplicate the exact materials and locations, but they cannot stand inside of the historical context within which that art was created. What it turns out to be is more of a historical reenactment. Not that there's no place for that in our world, but it does not share the same meaning as the original.

However, I think it's important to preserve classical musics. It gives our world perspective and enriches our lives. There needs to be people who are willing to dedicate their lives to preserving it, regardless of its profitability. The issue of authenticity in classical music is kind of a red herring, IMO, and hijacks the energy away from the real work of keeping it alive. But we must also face the present and continue to create new art and instruments within our own historical context. Fortunately, it's not a zero-sum game. We can have both!

But back to the original thought; is the sitar fun because it's difficult? I think any particular medium has its idiosyncrasies. There's always a push-pull relationship with the materials at hand. We can do our best to minimize the practical things, like buying a good instrument or good canvas and paint, but there is always a limitation inherent to each medium. But perhaps it's within that push-pull relationship with our preferred mediums that the real art is made.
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