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wilsaxo

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Posts: 163
Reply with quote  #1 
My Hemen is now restrung and I noticed that during tuning I have to go back to many of the strings to re-tune. I know that new strings need to settle in on any string instrument, that the sarod knots are tightening up, and that the head stretches under the string tension, so these re-tunings are no surprise. What comes to mind is that when a sympathetic string or one tuned to the same pitch to the one you are trying to tune is out of tune it skews the sound of the one being tuned and time is wasted with uncertainty. My question for all of you:

What tuning sequence do you sarod players use to get stability and efficient use of time so that you can get on with practicing or performing?

I won't be getting a teacher until next summer, so the "ask your teacher" answer won't help me now. I am focusing on the tabla between now and then because my teacher returns to Pakistan next summer and I want to get the most from our lessons together.

David
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Bruce

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Reply with quote  #2 
One possible tuning sequence, as outlined by Khansahib. First tune the main playing strings by plucking with your finger (no jaba). Then do the same for the jawari strings, and then the same for the sympathetics. Then use your jaba to tune the 2 high chikaris - so they sound like one string when played together. Finally use your jaba to check the playing strings again, matching with the chikaris and symapthetics. A light strum of all the strings should produce the nice "tanpura" effect. Good luck!
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Bruce
Ali Akbar College Store
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wilsaxo

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks Bruce!

Is the reason for using the fingers to pluck softly enough to not excite other strings and therefore isolate the one being tuned?

Does anyone take an approach like tuning all Sa's, then all Pa's, then...?

David
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arnabsarod

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Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #4 
David,

Since you asked whether anyone takes an approach like tuning all SAs, PAs, etc... Well, I sure do! I tune the baaj SA (madhya) first, then the kharaj and then the two jodas (also tuned to Madhya SA - I do not have "jawari" strings on my sarod). This balances the bridge well as these four strings are on three different places on the bridge. Once the bridge is stable, the chances of detuning are less. After this, I tune the MA string and then the 'PA and chikaris. As for the sympathetics, the final tuning, as Bruce has rightly pointed out, should be after the main strings are tuned. If you are tuning a loose sarod (with new strings - first tune up), then you should consider giving the tarabs a tentative tune-up first with an electronic tuner for reference, as this might help stabilize the bridge before you tune the other strings. Then you can fine-tune the tarabs.

Finally, there is no set method to it. Try the above two methods, and finally settle for what is most comfortable and helps keep the sarod consistently in tune.

Regards,

Arnab
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wilsaxo

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Posts: 163
Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks Arnab!

It's nice to know that I wasn't just thinking crazy thoughts that didn't apply to the real practical world of sarod players. Your approach to balance and stabilize the bridge/skin relationship in your sequence makes sense. I'm waiting for #00 wire to arrive to install the chikari strings, which will completing the restringing. Although I won't be practicing yet I plan to tune it at least once a day for now and play a few tones. I'll try both approaches, and any others that might be offered up as useful for sarodjis.

Cheers,
David
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aparajit

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Posts: 100
Reply with quote  #6 
I agree with Arnab. The tarabs should be tightened first to stabilize the bridge.

The difficulty you are facing with tuning is related to two things and all stringed instruments suffer from one of them. In the case of a guitar, etc., when you tighten any string, it causes the shape of the instrument to change such as causing the neck to bow in. The change is miniscule if all strings are in tune and only one string is tightened by a small amount. This will not affect the other strings since the percentage change in the bow of the neck is not so much. Starting a fresh set of strings is a different story. You have to go through several iterations of tuning until the instrument will settle down. Sometimes, you even have to check after a few hours. The sarod suffers from one additional issue. The skin depresses as the strings are tightened and this causes additional complex effects. You will even notice that if the chikaris are already semi tightened and you tighten the other strings and then retighten the chikaris to full tone, the Ma string may actually become sharper than what you started with. Bottom line is you keep tuning and retuning, esp. with fresh strings. Tightening the tarabs first as Arnab suggests will also cause the skin to get depressed to a level closer to full tune.

An interesting story:
Once guruji (Pt. Buddhadev Dasgupta) was visiting at my place and was tuning up from a completely untuned instrument (He always loosens the strings for airplane travel). As he was tuning he actually overtightened certain strings and I asked him why he was tuning so much sharper than the actual note and he indicated that it allowed him to tune faster since the note would drop as he tightened the remaining strings. So in his case, Sa was severely sharper, the kharaj Pa was also sharper but not by that much and the Kharaj Sa was also sharper but even less so. When he tuned the chikaris, lo and behold, the main strings were so close to the correct notes that he was able to tune the entire instrument in about 2 iterations.

One other thing...I never tune the sarod using an electronic tuner. It may help with a guitar, etc. but with a sarod, the multiple and complex resonances always throws a tuner off. Your best bet is to have an electronic tanpura and tune to it. Try not to match the tones of one string to another but listen to the harmonics between the strings of the sarod itself and the tanpura as you tune.
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wilsaxo

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Posts: 163
Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks Aparagit.

The Pt. Buddhadev Dasgupta story shows the mastery he has of his instrument and how he uses his experience to tune efficiently. His loosening of the strings for air travel is a good tip. Does anyone loosen the strings for other scenerios?

I use a electronic tone generating tuner for sa and then tune by ear, referring back to sa
as often as I can. I'll have to try tuning to the tanpura while listening for the tones in the tanpura sound. Thanks!

Cheers,
David
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arnabsarod

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Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #8 
A small clarification:

I only suggested using an electronic tuner for the SA, because the untrained mind can get really confused by the harmonics of the tanpura. I always tune the other notes relative to the SA I hear.

The above said, there's a way to tune the basic Bilawal thaat scale using an electronic tuner. S R M P N are pretty much the same as the equal tempered scale. The G and D need to be about 7-8 cents lower than their equal tempered counterparts.

Once you get involved in the characterization of ragas using chalan and shruti distinctions (the latter being a consequence of the former), this mode of tuning gets thrown out the window, and one tunes the tarabs as per the frequencies dictated by the spirit of the raga (and even more interesting is the fact that as long as the relative balance of various interdependent swaras in a raga are intact, the absolute pitches of those same notes - let's take the example of the rishabh of Marwa - are variable on two different days!). Anyhow, sorry for the tangent.

Cheers,

Arnab
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aparajit

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Posts: 100
Reply with quote  #9 
One thing I would like to add for Wilsaxo is that if you use the tanpura to tune the sa and then use the sa to tune the other strings, the tanpura needs to be on for the duration. If you turn the tanpura off, your Sa may change (per all the prior discussions) and you may not realize since you would be concentrating on the other strings.

Here is what Guruji does, as the tanpura is on, he plays the chikari and the main sa and then tunes each string. Once the main Pa is tuned, he hits the chikaris and the Pa and Sa intermittently as he is tuning the other strings. The presence of the tanpura and the intermittent hitting of the Sa and Pa assures that they are not falling out of tune as the other strings are being tuned.
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manirban73

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Posts: 23
Reply with quote  #10 
So the one thing I've noticed after moving to North Carolina, and this is either due to the humidity of the summertime, or the various physical things I nitpick about my instrument (as per another post about refurbing my sarod)... if I tune using my electric tanpura, I will have to just let the sarod sit in the room with the tanpura on and walk away for a bit (15 - 20 mins, depending on what playful mood my son's in). When I come back, with the tanpura on, I will have to go through one more iteration of tuning to get things right again... but after that it's relatively OK.

There's tons of variables here (I haven't chalked the pegs forever, still have to fiddle with the bridge to stop intermittent buzzing on the sympathetic strings, I haven't changed my sympathetic strings forever, etc, etc), but I never had this issue for the time spent up north in Detroit and NYC (although I barely touched my sarod for the time in NYC).

OK, back to work.
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