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chris thill

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Hi !

I've been reading this forum for quite a few weeks actually, but before I start posting and asking questions, I thought it would be nice to come and say hello, or namaste, and introduce myself a little bit.

My name is Christophe Thill, I live in Paris (France), and I'm a beginner on the sitar. I've had mine for less than a month, but it already feels very addictive, I can hardly take my hands off it!

The decision to really "get into it" came after I saw a concert of Indrajit Banerjee who had come to Paris for Music's Day, last June. But I'm actually not so much of an ICM person. I love to listen to it, and I'm now convinced that, in order to appreciate it better, I need to learn more about it, understand raga better, etc. (the forum is very helpful); but I definitely see myself as more of a rock musician. The artists I wish to emulate are Brian Jones, George Harrison and other people from the 60s, rather than Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan and other masters. Which doesn't mean that I don't love and respect those; quite the contrary. They're just sitting much too high; and I think you've got to know your own limits.

I have to say thank you to the people posting here (some of them obviously experts) as I've already read lots of things that help me learn, understand and practice.

And now let me retire after a slight respectful bow...
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jaan e kharabat

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Hi and welcome to the forums. It's great to hear that you have taken up the sitar and are dedicated to learning it. There are many competent players that frequent the forums and I'm sure they'll give you great advice on all aspects of the art. I just have to say that the famous Indian instruments are so thoroughly entwined with the tradition of Raag music, and Raag music is so thoroughly entwined with the classical forms such as Khyal and Dhrupad, etc. such that its performance is almost exclusively in these genres, that it is practically impossible to learn the playing of these instruments well without diving head on into ICM proper, as all the best teachers are so inclined themselves. This is markedly different to an instrument such as say the guitar, in which one has a choice of several different pathways, in terms of style and technique, right from the beginning.

I wish you the best of luck and many years of music making on that wonderful instrument.

Jaan

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Sitarfixer

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Greetings and "Namaste", Chris. Welcome to this forum and all things sitar. Your approach to learning sitar has a "safe" logic to it. I can't help but think that Brian Jones, George Harrison, and those other '60's guys had to have emulated Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee to a large extent. Who else was there at that time ? "Madhi Panee" ? 8) I would say that at least get some of the basic Indian sounding chops down such as string bending, hammers, pull offs, etc. The instrument is in your hands to do as wish. Here's where taste and artful musicianship is now your responsibility. I do ask that you NOT get into that Parkinson's string vibrato thing that far too many Westerners fall into. As you navigate that main string, you will be soon able to visualise one liners like the well worn, paper thin B. B. King ' 5, Tonic, 7b, 5, Tonc ' and all that other kind of stuff. All the best with your baby !
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chris thill

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Thanks for the good words !
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I do ask that you NOT get into that Parkinson's string vibrato thing that far too many Westerners fall into.
I'm definitely with you on this.

Of course, for a guitarist, it's almost impossible not to try. But it's so very un-sitar-like...

I've seen those Youtube videos (more on this later!) and it struck me: the guitar-style vibrato makes the sitar sound like a dobro. Which is really not the point. So I promise I'll abstain from it. There are so many better things to do, actually.
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coughcapkittykat

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Chris,
I'm not really in a position to give advice or anything because I am a newbie too but seems strange to me that are interested in George Harrison etc and not learning much about Indian classical music. Surely GH etc were looking in the direction of classical music and the virtuosos such as Ravi, Nikhil and I'm sure if George studied with Ravi then he must have had a huge grounding in classical music?

Please ignore me if I am wrong because I don't know a great deal about the 60's guitar/sitarists but personally it would seem better to me to try to emulate a great master than someone who played for a year or two and then recorded some on an album. You may never be even a fraction as good as a great master but that doesn't mean that you can't learn techniques from them or or that there are just general approaches that you would miss with someone of a lesser standard.
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Lars

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Quote:
Originally Posted by "chris
Hi !

I've been reading this forum for quite a few weeks actually, but before I start posting and asking questions, I thought it would be nice to come and say hello, or namaste, and introduce myself a little bit.

My name is Christophe Thill, I live in Paris (France), and I'm a beginner on the sitar. I've had mine for less than a month, but it already feels very addictive, I can hardly take my hands off it!

The decision to really "get into it" came after I saw a concert of Indrajit Banerjee who had come to Paris for Music's Day, last June. But I'm actually not so much of an ICM person. I love to listen to it, and I'm now convinced that, in order to appreciate it better, I need to learn more about it, understand raga better, etc. (the forum is very helpful); but I definitely see myself as more of a rock musician. The artists I wish to emulate are Brian Jones, George Harrison and other people from the 60s, rather than Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan and other masters. Which doesn't mean that I don't love and respect those; quite the contrary. They're just sitting much too high; and I think you've got to know your own limits.

I have to say thank you to the people posting here (some of them obviously experts) as I've already read lots of things that help me learn, understand and practice.

And now let me retire after a slight respectful bow...
Hi, you almost have a similar story to mine. My first sitar concert I attended was 28 years ago although with a different 'Banerjee' which was Nikhil Banerjee and I was in the same position as you however my interest has always remained within Indian classical music. But you picked a good musician to influence you, like Nikhil Banerjee Indrajit is highly underrated and remains under the radar really but there a few players out there that have as much talent and skill. Being one of his original students and friend I am of course biased but this was the same quality that I got from watching Nikhil Banerjee play as well.
So learn to play any way you like, it's all good but you have some good resources in France to help you also. Indrajit should be there yearly as well, check out his cousin Niladri Kumar if you like more modern things, he's very good also.
Nice post, thanks....

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chris thill

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It's true, as Indrajit Banerjee's concert was the first "real" one I saw, he's kind of "special" to me (plus I saw we were born the same year, it has to mean something!) I see that you publish some instructional DVDs he did, and I may very well order them soon.

After the concert, my wife and I went to have a few words with him, and we were struck by his charming and friendly personality. Apparently he was glad to speak with his audience (but there were not many English speakers, obviously, so it was just us and perhaps two other people). Both he and the tabla player Subrata Bhattacharya really seemed to be one with the music, and we all had a good laugh when I had to ask if their hands didn't hurt after such intensive playing.

From the little I read about Nikhil Banerjee, I seem to understand he had this kind of sweet, humble personality; that it's a quality much appreciated by Indian audiences, who look not only at the playing but also at the whole attitude; and that not all masters are like this, with some (like Vilayat Khan) being more, let's say, aristocratic. Is that correct?

Yes, I think one definitely has to learn about classical music, if only to appreciate it fully. And working on it is certainly a good exercise. But being one day able to play it in front of people, or to record it, is something else entirely. And there are already so many people who do it so much better than I'd ever do. On the other hand, there's my own music, that's only living inside my head for now, and in which the sitar plays a great part (kind of "fusion", one might say, although I'd prefer "cold fusion", as I love synthesizers...). I have to make it exist, because if I don't, no one else will. Would it be a great loss? For the world, I don't know. For myself, certainly!

Well, there's a big question behind all this, I think: should one set oneself goals that are too high, perhaps out of reach? Will it encourage you to progress farther than you'd expected? Or will it erode and destroy your motivation? I don't really know actually. But I guess I tend to be more on the pessimistic side...
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #8 
Nothing wrong with setting your goals high, if you met them then you'd get bored anyway. Indrajit's level of playing is the result of a lot of practice and unlike most he continues it daily. But don't be discouraged or told that you won't be able to learn the music, it flows easily once you understand the basics and with dedication and most importantly patience I'm sure you'll achieve a level where you'll be happy. I think Indrajit has one or two more developed students there that can help you possibly? You can PM me and I"ll put you in touch with them....
8)

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