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mat_ridenour

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I'm looking for a book that gives detailed and thorough information, study material, alankars, lessons, techniques, etc. etc. about Sitar. While I've loved ICM for years I'm somewhat new to learning it. So I'm looking for a book (or books) that can clarify basics and work up to more advance stuff. I saw "The Classical Music of North India" by Gearge Ruckert on the Ali Akbar Khan College site. It looks promising. I also check out Powell's Book (arguably the largest independent bookstore in the world) and they only had ONE book on Sitar, which was "My Music My Life" by Shankar. But I'm sure there are others out there. Basically, my plan is to get a book and learn everything in it, make it my Practice Bible. And of course lessons when I can afford them.
Thanks,
Mat
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randyh

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I'm sure you will get many good suggestions about books here. My suggestion is the videos from Rain City Music - There are multiple ragas available with detailed lessons that would be months or more of lessons from a teacher. They are really amazing with great explanations and I go back to them often still after two years. My opinion is that they are by far the best learning materials for sitar besides a live teacher. Here is the link:

http://www.raincitymusic.com/sitar-dvd.htm
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nicneufeld

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For learning the practical side of playing a raag on sitar (in the absence of a teacher), Randy's suggestion is good, I have one of Indrajit's Yaman DVDs that was quite helpful.

One book that may be a bit of a two-edged sword is Sandip Bagchee's "NAD: Understanding Raga Music". It shares the Indian focus on classical vocal (over instrumental) so for Western aspiring sitarists the sections on vocal gharana history can be, shall we say, a trifle dry. But there's a lot of depth there. Perhaps too much for a beginner, I got it when I had just received my instrument and it probably contributed to some confusion, but it also helped me understand a lot of things.

In general though, books are probably the most disadvantaged of all possible mediums for learning Hindustani music. It is so difficult to describe the music in written form (Western classical is much more adept at this). I remember reading through a section detailing all the different sorts of "ornaments" that are applied to notes, and still being utterly confused at the end of it...its just hard to describe in written form. But there was a video of a woman singer doing a TED talk about Indian music a while back, and in 5 minutes she runs through the ornaments and demonstrates what they are, and that was much easier to grasp (in much less time). Another issue is that one must be fluid with one's understanding of terminology. "Alankars" is an example, I was thinking of it as meaning exercises, which I think some books/teachers use it in that context, and my teacher was rather confused by my usage of it. Different gharanas and teachers may use terminology differently, and will teach different things, so there isn't necessarily one "bible" as it were to use as an ironclad reference.

Good luck, and enjoy!
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mat_ridenour

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Very good point. I was thinking about this earlier, so thanks for confirming that. I was reading about ornaments and, when written, they did sound all the same, and confusing. I'll probably get some DVD's and take lessons when affordable.
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CheesecakeTomek

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I would get Indrajit Banerjee's Intro to Sitar DVD. He goes over many ornaments and puts them into context. Very excellent for starting when no teacher is available. Once you have a handle on the basic techniques, the George Ruckert book is an excellent source of information and music/exercises. Or you can move on to Indrajitji's Yaman series, which I imagine is beyond extensive. A teacher, however, is the best way to make sure you get off to a good start, even if you can only afford once a month.

*Edit* one awesome benefit of the George Reckert book is that you receive a handful of compositions in each of the "main" ragas. Going through the music systematically and spending time on each raga alone will allow you to get a solid feel for some of the different flavors each has to offer. Also, since it is printed music, it can also serve as a "songbook," and anytime you feel like doing some valuable vocal work, it's easy enough to just open up to a composition and sing through.
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Kirya

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I agree with some of the suggestions made here and the key is the way you practice them.

I studied with a teacher in India for 3 years very regularly and both the Ruckert book and the last section of the Ravi Shankar book have a comprehensive set of exercises that can form the foundation of your riyaz (practice). The Indrajit Banerjee DVD also has a chapter on exercises which if you do every day for an hour or two will get your hands in shape to naturally start improvising around the ragas.

My teacher made me play alankars only for a year (even though I was easily playing 4+ hours a day) -- he wanted to see left hand and right hand dexterity and strength before we started on the ragas. His teacher was Nikhil Banerjee who was a stickler for arduous and focused practice.

I would suggest that you focus on clarity and proper form on all these alankars (i.e correct fingering, correct right hand strokes etc..) and then make sure that you can play all the exercises at various tempos: slow, medium, medium-fast and fast and even use a metronome to make sure you are consistent.

Then go to the Indrajit videos to see how he demonstrates more melodic ornamentation exercises especially for meend. And also start playing in taal with simple gats (Razakhani gats)and start by improvising -- 4 then 8 then 16 beats and always going back to the sam and back to the gat with one these taal machines.

If you are ever in LA I would be happy to share my notes.

I also find that listening to many versions (both vocal and instrumental) of any raga you are studying will give your own melodic vision a boost as you find phrases that you just have to get.

There is a concept called "taiyari" in the ICM music world and it means "readiness" or "ability to respond" to instruction and guidance or even to perform. PRS recently did an interview where said that he wished he had worked harder on his taiyari. Good teachers will always try and make an assessment of where you are today and walk you forward from there.

All these exercises done regularly with fluency and fluidity will in time create this receptive state they call taiyari.

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Kirya
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pbercker

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "mat_ridenour"
I'm looking for a book that gives detailed and thorough information, study material, alankars, lessons, techniques, etc. etc. about Sitar. While I've loved ICM for years I'm somewhat new to learning it. So I'm looking for a book (or books) that can clarify basics and work up to more advance stuff. I saw "The Classical Music of North India" by Gearge Ruckert on the Ali Akbar Khan College site. It looks promising. I also check out Powell's Book (arguably the largest independent bookstore in the world) and they only had ONE book on Sitar, which was "My Music My Life" by Shankar. But I'm sure there are others out there. Basically, my plan is to get a book and learn everything in it, make it my Practice Bible. And of course lessons when I can afford them.
Thanks,
Mat
Are you familiar with SITAR GURU? It's not a book, but an interactive introduction to Sitar on CD-ROM by Pandit Arvind Parikh, a disciple of Ustat Vilayat Khan (lately departed). I got several years ago from Navras Records Limited.. It has several short videos featuring his students who perform various exercises. It also has a section with beginner exercises and advanced beginner exercises that are not only visually displayed but also demonstrated on audio tracks that you can listen to and just play along with!

I myself have not made much use of it only because my primary focus is on my tabla practice.

Pascal Bercker
St. Peters Missouri

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My opinion given without any warranties, expressed or implied, that it's even relevant. It would be folly to rely on my opinion without seeking more professional tabla advice. If you are suffering from a tabla condition, seek immediate attention.
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