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Drew

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Reply with quote  #1 
To add on to the 3rd finger debate.. I thought I would start one for sitting positions.

I know this has been discussed before but, lets do it again!


For the North, I was taught that one must sit in Lotus Position and have the Sitar rest on the right knee. I think the South is much more liberal and you can do whatever is best for you.

Myself, I just cant pull this off for a few reasons. The pain from having to wrap my right leg over my left knee is too much to handle after a while. Also, if the Sitar rests on my knee, it gets in the way if I want to play those high notes.

I think that your body/legs size may play a factor as it seems to be a very comfortable position for some and almost impossible for others.

So, I use the Ravi/Nikhil style of sitting which I think is half Lotus position. My left leg is still under the right and the Sitar rests on the left foot but, my right leg does not go over the left knee and just stays straight out.

Ive seen many of the masters use this position and I was just wondering if this is considered taboo by some (like using the 3rd finger).

Then, there are the players that dont rest the Sitar on their foot and just let it rest on the floor. (I only do this if my legs cant take the position anymore). But, some players do this full time.

I find that if I rest the Sitar on the floor, I cant play as fast and I lose some of the control I would have if the Sitar is resting on my foot.

any opinions?

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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hey, Drew.
Having fixed too many cracked gourds over the years, I gotta tell you that playing with the gourd on the floor with the downward forearm pressure is inviting the opportunity to develop your own gourd repair skills. These days, when I'm on the floor testing out a sitar, I have a slightly oversized tabla ring along side for the gourd to sit in/on. It works perfectly. Protects the gourd from floor pressing and holds the instrument in a very stable position. If I'm in a position where I have to make that proper impression, stage gigue or similar, I do the 1/2 lotus, I guess you call it, with the gourd on the instep of the left foot and the right leg bent back as much as I can tolerate. Putting the right leg over the left knee will NOT happen, even at gunpoint!
Having the leg extended straight out, although comfortable, will be noted with moderate disapproval by any of the India community should they be positioned in front of you. Gets into the whole thing of not displaying the soles of the feet - very discourtious and all that. I guess that as long as your teacher is happy with the position as prescribed and you can handle it - you're all set. As every person is of different dimensions, I would think that a certain amount of margin for comfort, efficiency and even consistancy of play should be considered.

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element-82

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Reply with quote  #3 
Hey Drew,
sitting with the sitar in full lotus! LOL that would be very difficult to play. The sitar on the knee seems a bit to high and it can be slippery on the jeans (in the full lotus! ouch!). I was taught initially to have the gourd on the floor with the left foot behind the gourd, then the right leg over the left knee. That was extra painful at first. The next teacher insisted I just sit cross legged and sit the gourd on the floor, but that required me to hunch over too much, back pain etc. AT which point, I started resting the sitar on the foot and it made a huge difference. It sounds better there too, not sure why.

Now, neck resting on the knee or waving in the air, that is the real questions, right after the 3 finger/2 finger one

Pb
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
Hey, Drew.
Having fixed too many cracked gourds over the years, I gotta tell you that playing with the gourd on the floor with the downward forearm pressure is inviting the opportunity to develop your own gourd repair skills. These days, when I'm on the floor testing out a sitar, I have a slightly oversized tabla ring along side for the gourd to sit in/on. It works perfectly. Protects the gourd from floor pressing and holds the instrument in a very stable position. If I'm in a position where I have to make that proper impression, stage gigue or similar, I do the 1/2 lotus, I guess you call it, with the gourd on the instep of the left foot and the right leg bent back as much as I can tolerate. Putting the right leg over the left knee will NOT happen, even at gunpoint!
Having the leg extended straight out, although comfortable, will be noted with moderate disapproval by any of the India community should they be positioned in front of you. Gets into the whole thing of not displaying the soles of the feet - very discourtious and all that. I guess that as long as your teacher is happy with the position as prescribed and you can handle it - you're all set. As every person is of different dimensions, I would think that a certain amount of margin for comfort, efficiency and even consistancy of play should be considered.

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Drew

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hey Drew,
sitting with the sitar in full lotus! LOL that would be very difficult to play. The sitar on the knee seems a bit to high and it can be slippery on the jeans (in the full lotus! ouch!). I was taught initially to have the gourd on the floor with the left foot behind the gourd, then the right leg over the left knee. That was extra painful at first. The next teacher insisted I just sit cross legged and sit the gourd on the floor, but that required me to hunch over too much, back pain etc. AT which point, I started resting the sitar on the foot and it made a huge difference. It sounds better there too, not sure why.

Now, neck resting on the knee or waving in the air, that is the real questions, right after the 3 finger/2 finger one

Pb


well, it was Anwar who insisted I rest the sitar on the right knee. As Im sure you are aware that is how he plays.

Myself, I just cant do it... cause it means having your right leg hooked over the left knee.... and with the bottom of the sitar neck resting on the right knee, it gets in the way.

I just dont know who those "knee rester" guys do it?


and Sitar Man,,,, I use a tabla ring to if my legs cant take it anymore and there is no carpet. It also gives it that extra height like it was resting on your foot but, it still isnt quite the same to me.

However, usually when ones leg falls asleep... it isnt always because of the position... sometimes its cause of the pressure of the Sitar on the foot and pressing down on it with the forearm. That makes the foot, and then the legs fall asleep.

I think I may try to engineer a sitar/foot stand one of these days. But, the tabla ring is so close to perfect that its almost not worth it.

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neela sangeeta

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Reply with quote  #5 
Glad you started this topic as I have been meaning to address it!

First off, I generally start sitting with my right leg over the left knee, then over the course of a long practice session, move it in front of the left knee and then move the gourd to the rug and back again depending the awakeness level of my legs, etc...

But what I really wanted to address is posture, and I think the following ideas apply to any instrument. I have been discussing this quite a bit with my friend who plays tabla. His teacher really stresses proper posture, where there is virtually no movement in the shoulders, and you find a way to draw alot of movement from your lower back. If you see this teacher play, from the chest up it likes like he is doing nothing at all!

So I recently saw a Feldenkrais teacher. I will not bore you with all the details, but if you are not aware, they do a sort of bodywork, to help you use your body more efficiently and easily. They really try to make you more aware of the interconnectedness of your body in doing whatever movement is under discussion.

I asked her specifically about posture while playing and drawing the energy from the lower back. She knew exactly what I was talking about. Ultimately she encouraged me to sit on the edge of a pillow or folded up blanket when practicing. The same way one often does in a yoga class. This tilts your pelvis forward straight over your hips and lets you really put all your weight down in your sit bones. This then frees your lower back from working to hold you up.

After a couple days of really concentrating on this while doing sitar exercises, I found I could gain a couple clicks on the metronome in palta/alankar. I could also get a little more stamina in gamak exercises. At times I could really feel myself engage in the lower back.

Has anyone else thought much about this?

Neel
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #6 
This is a really good point again after the finger one.

Even for the chunky guy that I am now I can sit in 'right knee lifted' position & always have. I was taught this when I first started in 1978 & was a bit slimmer :wink:

My surbahar requires me to sit in the same position too as it can't just be rested always on its 'foot/stand' alone. It tends to fall to the left otherwise.

Ravi Shankar so often looked to me like he was crowched over his sitar with it waving in the air at nearly vertical.

Nick
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sitarman

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Reply with quote  #7 
As for your views on your foot falling asleep, I don't think you don't have a leg to stand on. :!: SORRY GUYS- couldn't resist! Ok, seriously...
The traditional position- one foreleg over the other knee, does get a lot easier over time. I can sit for hours like that but in the beginning it was painful after ten minutes. Nikhil did seem to modify it some, but I agree that the sitar needs to be on the body, not the floor, and not for just damage problems. I think you would lose some vibration and resonance contacting a hard floor with the gourd. In any case, I usually don't rest the neck on the thigh because, as people pointed out, you need to lift it as you play the higher frets. As for painful legs, it is kind of like painful fingers in the early stages of learning- no pain, no gain! I would not abandon the traditional position unless, after a year of trying, you just couldn't do it no way, no how. Just because it is initially difficult or painful isn't enough reason to abandon it. That is true of most new physical endeavors, and sitar is a very physically demanding instrument.
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element-82

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Reply with quote  #8 
Hey sitarman,
I think it depends on how flexible that crossed leg is (or you hip flexors). If you are generally flexible, your leg can be almost parallel to the floor. Otherwise, it would be hard to get at the high notes. Anything above Re or Ga deserves a meend anyway
It is a discipline like any other, as you say.
Pb
Quote:
Originally Posted by "sitarman"
...
In any case, I usually don't rest the neck on the thigh because, as people pointed out, you need to lift it as you play the higher frets. .

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