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musical2

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Reply with quote  #1 
for difficulty of playing. I'm a total Indian music novice. Never even touched either yet. I'd like to purchase one sooner or later.

from what I read and hear, I get the impression that a surbahar might usually be played more slowly than a sitar.

Don't shoot me down anyway. I'm just trying to decide which one I would potentially get more out of in the short term.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #2 
Well, mirs are easier on the surbahar due to the lower pitch and looser strings. Fast passages are more difficlt on the surbahar due to the size of the instrument.

Thing is, and not getting down on you, what exactly are you looking for? Looking to do? Sitar and surbahar are different instruemnts and play different styles of the music. Sure, some might just buy a surbahar and just start playing what they know of sitar on it. But that is not what they are about.

Remember - you really aren't learning sitar or surbahar. You are learning Classical north Indian Music and the sitar or surbahar are one of the tools used to express that music.

So again - the critical quesiton is what are you seeking to achieve? I also noticed your "get more out of in the short term". Hmmm - can you clarify that?


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povster

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Reply with quote  #3 
I could have sworn this was in the Sitar forum. Did it get moved to Buying/Selling?
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musical2

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "povster"

So again - the critical quesiton is what are you seeking to achieve? I also noticed your "get more out of in the short term". Hmmm - can you clarify that?

I think what I mean is with which one would a beginner be most likely to achieve a sound that could be considered somewhat musical and possibly even remotely authentic in the short term. In the long term I'd hope to find a few good tutor books at least. I guess if you spend money on an instrument you want to know you'll be able to do something constructive with it. (although that's never stopped me in the past lol)

Indian classical music and where I am? I really like it. I can listen for hours, but I don't yet have any comprehension of what's going on in so far as its composition. It can just alter my state of consiousness in a really nice way.
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Amerikon

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Reply with quote  #5 
I don't know how short or long your terms are, but as someone who fell into this world a couple years ago here's the way I see it:

Unlike most western music, which tends to be composed with an instrument in mind, with ICM the instrument is almost completely detached from the music itself. Raag Yaman is the same regardless of whether it is being sung or played on a sitar, surbahar, sarod, violin whatever. Because of this, learning the instrument and learning the music are two distinctly different things.

On the instrumental side you can fairly easily pick up a sitar and learn the basic strokes and mechanics necessary for playing a sitar. In fact, I think the mechanics of the instrument are much simpler than playing a guitar which forces you to learn chords and do all sorts of complex fingerings that are not applicable to the melody-only world of sitar. You'll certainly be playing a sitar and it can certainly be musical but it won't be ICM (which is what I assume you mean by "authentic"). To me this is the only short-term goal that can reasonably be achieved.

The musical side is where the true complexity lies. Unlike the guitar and rock music there's no ICM equivalent to Nirvana where all you need to do is learn a few power chords and by the end of the day you can play every song on Nevermind. The only thing you can hope to learn about a raga from a book is the ascending and descending scales and maybe a few key phrases. There are so many subtleties and nuances to ICM that cannot be learned without a very knowledgeable teacher. Learning the music is a much more difficult and long term proposition.

When I started taking lessons, I had no idea what I was getting into (which , from your posts, is probably the boat you're in). So I'd think you have a couple options. Get a sitar and a book. Learn the strokes and some scales for different ragas and just enjoy exploring a unique instrument. Or find a good teacher and get to learn a whole lot more about ICM in general. I think if you enjoy listening to the music it's worth the time and money to learn about it, but I'm probably a bit biased.

As for sitar vs surbahar, I think the sitar is probably more accessible. (Do they even have surbhar books?) A surbahar is designed to play the alap part of a performance which is a slower, unaccompanied, and improvised section that is designed to explore the nuances of a raga. The alap is the movement that requires the most musical knowledge. Sitar's smaller size allows for the playing of up tempo compositions with fast taans. A sitar is well suited to playing alap as well, it just lacks some of the note bending range found on a surbahar. Having never played a surbahar my guess would be that it's extra bulk would make it slightly more difficult to play. (Anyone care to refute that?)

Hopefully some of this info is useful.

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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #6 
The main thing in choosing between learning sitar or Surbahar is which one you like as an instruument. I suggest you get some great sitar recordings and some Surbahar recordings and decide based on what moves you musically. They are very different animals. It is a bit like asking whether you should learn Violin or cello. The only answer is to listen to them and decide which instrument speaks with a voice that you would like to speak with. That is it.

Do not base the decision on which one might seem easier or less work because in Indian music all instruments have their challenges. The indian musical system is incredibly complicated no matter which instrument you choose, so choose the one that you have a passion for the sound.
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #7 
There's several of us on this forum who play both sitar & surbahar.

The style is most certainly different but not massively so. Especially if you're of the Etawah gharana persuasion as that school has transferred more sitar technique to surbahar playing rather than just play in Dhrupad style much like Rudra Veena.

Quick gats aren't suitable as surbahar resonance tends to obscure the notes. Lightning Jhalla can be great. Alap is unsurpassed due, once again, to a fantastic resonance.

Let's not forget a size issue! :wink:
A full scale surbahar can be very unwieldy, even WITH its little footstand on the tabli. Exhausting, just sitting with it, isn't the word.

My only & best surbahar is now a smaller Shujaat Khan style which can be played in sitar position & has no real need for a stand.

Replace 'either' with 'both' in terms of choice. Unless there's a cash issue.

Nick
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element-82

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Reply with quote  #8 
I think the size issue is relative to the size of the player (197cm). I play mine like a sitar. It is very comfortable to play and I dont have to use any more effort than sitar to sit with it. It has the little foot stand, but I wish it didn't. I would take it off if I could. The only problem is that I have completely fallen for the surbahar and dont play sitar anymore I love the low sound and big neck. It just suits me better. Maybe the rule is if you ever played basketball, then you should buy a surbahar

Pb

Quote:
Originally Posted by "trippy
There's several of us on this forum who play both sitar & surbahar.

Let's not forget a size issue! :wink:
A full scale surbahar can be very unwieldy, even WITH its little footstand on the tabli. Exhausting, just sitting with it, isn't the word.

My only & best surbahar is now a smaller Shujaat Khan style which can be played in sitar position & has no real need for a stand.

Replace 'either' with 'both' in terms of choice. Unless there's a cash issue.

Nick

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coyootie

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Reply with quote  #9 
you've already gotten some very good advice, but I'd reiterate/suggest:
surbahars are generally very big unwieldy things that can be very difficult to even hold properly if you're smaller. the resonance and overall deep timbre of a surbahar is really appealing and it is superbly designed for very slow introspective music.
sitars are probably more approachable for many reasons, including accessibility of teachers and basic info, not to mention the instrument itself, also size and playability.
if you get some chance to sit down with someone who plays these instruments competently, that's what you really need to do. it will tell you much more than any amount of experimenting will.
and size don't matter ultimately. Paul O'dette, one of the greatest lute players ever, has extremely tiny hands and his technique is breathtaking. it's in yore head and heart even more than your hands.
musical instruments from India are revered as more than just axes in their native culture. there's always the opportunity to use whatever instrument you have to produce music or musical effects, but i believe strongly that all instruments work best doing what they were developed to do, which is to play certain types of music. it is extremely difficult if not impossible to adapt sitars/surbahars to non- indian music without falling on your face.
i worked on a tambura for an "acoustic healer" ( of course self-designated) who didn't even know how to adjust the jawari ( buzz in the strings). I told her if she ever tried to do her number in front of anyone who knew how to use a tambura she's get reactions of anything from puzzlement to complete scoffing. not to mention her voice....
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element-82

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Reply with quote  #10 
Yes, coyootie is right that they are big and hard to carry around. I have a vw beetle and mine fits, but only just, and no one else can ride in the car other than the driver.

Pb

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musical2

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "coyootie"
you've already gotten some very good advice,
I agree. I have had good advice. Not sure if I showed my appreciation either, but if not - seriously:

Thanks folks
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