INDIAN MUSIC FORUMS

Sign up Calendar Latest Topics Chat
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
drutgat

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 113
Reply with quote  #1 

Hello All,

I would like your suggestions about how I can go about structuring my sitar ‘study’ so that I can learn the most and enjoy myself the most.

Some background and information about myself might be helpful.

I am in my late 50s now (how did that happen? I was 18 yesterday), and have played guitar for many years (rock, not Western classical music).

I originally started to take sitar lessons in the early 2000s, and did that on-and-off for a couple of years (on-and-off because I could only get to lessons for a few weeks at a time over those two years, for various reasons).

The lessons were in the Etawah Imdadkhani baj, and I do have a GP sitar, but I subsequently acquired a KP sitar, and prefer to learn more from a Senia Maihar perspective (obviously, the current ‘form’ of concerts has a mixture of Druphad and Khyal influence, and that is the ‘format’ I am interested in exploring).

The lessons I took, but more going to see a lot of sitarists in concert, listening to music, taking some table lessons, and reading as much as I could about Hindustani Classical Music have taught me a lot, although I still feel that I know very little of what there is to know about HCM.

Unfortunately, I am in no way a virtuoso, and never will be, but I would like to reach a point in a couple of years’ time where I am aware of the content of 3 - 4 Raags well enough to attempt to render said Raags through a typical Alap-Jor-Jhalla, Gat, Jhalla performance (probably only for myself, and a teacher, though, and certainly imperfectly).

For years, and because I was being taught traditionally, I never even considered that I would be able to go near trying to play an Alap until I had been studying for a long time, but I have now decided that life is too short, that I should just accept my technical inadequacies, and that I should pursue trying to learn several Ragas.

So, the question arises, how should I structure this study?

Because of the current Covid-19 situation, I cannot go for in-person lessons to a teacher whom I had a very good introductory lesson with a couple of years ago, and that teacher has not yet set up online lessons (but he is going to do so). However, he has suggested to me that I can post videos on YouTube (privately), and he will critique my progress.

My ideas about how to go about this at the moment are:

  1. Continue to use the Josh Feinberg ‘Sitar Method’ book I have, and also start to use Pt. Ravi Shankar-ji’s ‘Sitar Manual’ at the back of his book, ‘My Music, My Life’ to develop a technical foundation for playing, and a basic knowledge of some Raags (I am just playing Paltas and Murchanas at the moment)
  2. Use a couple of DVDs that I have of introductions to playing two of these Raags
  3. Focus on learning the Vadi and Samvadis, Pakads, Aroha, Avaroha and other structural elements of the three Ragas I intend to focus on
  4. Post the videos for the teacher I mentioned above to get critiques (and take in-person lessons if/when that is possible again)
  5. Start widening my listening to encompass a lot more Vocal music (HCM)

How does this sound?

Do you have any additional or alternative suggestions for how I should go about this?

I love Hindustani Classical Music (and like Carnatic).


Geert

 

 

0
cwroyds

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,233
Reply with quote  #2 
You might be able to get Josh Feinberg to give you Zoom/Skype lessons. 
He is a member here, or you can find him on Facebook, or through his website. 
I seem to 
remember him talking about online lessons during the pandemic. 

There are also other good teachers who do Zoom/Skype lessons.
ICM is pretty nuanced, and a teacher is the best route to learning the music. 

0
drutgat

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 113
Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwroyds
You might be able to get Josh Feinberg to give you Zoom/Skype lessons. 
He is a member here, or you can find him on Facebook, or through his website. 
I seem to 
remember him talking about online lessons during the pandemic. 

There are also other good teachers who do Zoom/Skype lessons.
ICM is pretty nuanced, and a teacher is the best route to learning the music. 


Thanks, cwroyds,
I recently researched online sitar lessons/teachers, and definitely have Josh on my short-list.


0
Hamletsghost

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 746
Reply with quote  #4 
Try Gaurav Mazumdar

gmazumdar@gmail.com

Here is a previous topic of a chap looking for a teacher in Delhi (while his home base is in Delhi Gaurav teaches all over the world and via skype etc)

https://forum.chandrakantha.com/post/sitar-teacher-10499414?pid=1311645439

Like I've posted previously - gifted performer - wonderful teacher - and the nicest chap you'll ever meet.
Good luck in your journey.

brian[cool]

__________________
PEACE THRU MUSIC - Larry Darrell LIVES!
0
drutgat

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 113
Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamletsghost
Try Gaurav Mazumdar

gmazumdar@gmail.com

Here is a previous topic of a chap looking for a teacher in Delhi (while his home base is in Delhi Gaurav teaches all over the world and via skype etc)

https://forum.chandrakantha.com/post/sitar-teacher-10499414?pid=1311645439

Like I've posted previously - gifted performer - wonderful teacher - and the nicest chap you'll ever meet.
Good luck in your journey.

brian[cool]

Thanks very much, Brian.

I will add his name to my list.

I also am going to talk to Lars about Indrajit Banerjee.

When I was originally taking lessons, I took several tabla lessons, and I think one of the reasons they were so helpful was that I took lessons from a Westerner (more by accident, than design, as he was the only tabla player I knew who was conveniently available for lessons at the time).

I realised a few months later that I think there was some advantage in learning from a Westerner (or at least someone who is used to teaching Westerners), but recommendations like yours make a significant difference to me, so thank you.

I may end up taking an introductory lesson with a few people to see who is the best suited to my learning style.
0
jaysitar22

Member
Registered:
Posts: 72
Reply with quote  #6 

If you are interested in Maihar Gharana, there is a book called “The Classical Music of Northern Indian, Volume One,” by Ali Akbar Khan & George Ruckert”. This book goes through history/ context, practical tips, & all ten parent scales with corresponding rules & gat compositions in each rag. Maybe you could study Maihar style through skype lessons from the Ali Akbar college, I know they have a library of previous lessons in the different rags. Gaurav Mazumdar is also fantastic.

There is another book that I like called “Techniques of Sitar” (there are some typos and parts that are confusing) by Shripad Bandyopadhyaya, which contains Alap/ Jor/ Jhala examples, traditional Masit & Reza Khani gats, tans & todas in all of the main Ragas, also details about the rules of performing a complete rag in the Senia tradition. I am in the process of editing a book that I transcribed taking music from Bandyopadhaya’s other books, “Wisdom of Raga & Adachautal on Sitar”, along with rag rules and compositions from Walter Kaufman’s book, “Rags of Northern India," but it probably wouldn't be legal to share that with the public. Bandyopadhayaya studied with some interesting people, Abhaya Charan Chakraborty, (a student of Barkatullah Khan), some Rudra Veena players, and he claims to have studied with Allauddin Khan, so he has a tie to Maihar/ Senia.

The AAK book starts with Bhairav, there is a great quote in the introduction, “It is like yoga: once you can sing Bhairav & Bhairavi in the morning, and Iman Kalyan in the evening, in perfect tune, the other rags become your servants.” I have read that Annapurna Devi would start in Yaman, and the student would spend a long time learning the full rag. Maybe you could pick one of those three rags and go through all the paltas/ permutations on frets and using meend in the parent scale, right hand practice (bols/ jhala), and learn all the compositions from those two books, get each composition recorded with Tabla loop or solo for Alap. Then do the same process for the other two rags. After that is completed you could follow the progression of rags in “Techniques of Sitar” practicing the fret & meend permutations, along with the gat compositions.  Learn the compositions from the AAK book as they overlap with the Bandyopadhyaya book. During all this you could pick your favorite recording of the rag you are working on and treat it like a teacher, and try to figure out as much as possible.

I can only practice 2 hours every other day, but I start with purely technical stuff for the 1st hour, take a break, and for the second hour gat compositions. Cycle through what you deem to be important for the technical exercises. I am learning the paltas from Ravi Shankar’s book, and exercises from “Techniques of Sitar”, starting slowly, either quarter or eighth notes at 60-80 bpm, and speeding up 10-20 notches on the metronome, practicing on the frets and then using meend, until reaching 160 or until your fastest speed. Do the same process for right hand technique. Keep notes of what was practiced at what speed and how many reps, so you can move systematically through the material.

For learning gats I like to get in a certain amount of good repetitions after memorized. Luckily my voice is in C# so I sing along with the gat while playing on the frets in Sargam for 5 sets of 10, then the next session 5 sets of 10 using as much meend as possible 4/5 notes, figuring out where the most logical spots to meend from in the composition. The repetitions are only counted if played competently, always playing along with Tabla to internalize the tal structure.  Final stage is to record the piece with Tabla, and critique. After all that is completed continue practicing exercises and compositions learned, but then figure out/ transcribe favorite recording in all rags, to really get a feel for the true movement and feeling.

I recently just got back into Sitar & Surbahar after a few years not playing at all and the above is my plan of attack, but am really only at the very beginning going through Bhairav. Take all this with a grain of salt because I am just a hobbyist. Of course, having a teacher is ideal, but the way that this music is traditionally taught takes a long time if only taking lessons once a week. I think this teaching method is geared toward the old ways where a student would live with the Guru for years at a time. Filling in the blanks and practicing while on your own can help get the music to a certain level, knowing that you are just laying the ground work and technique and eventually you will have to go over the rags with a teacher.

 

 

 

 

0
drutgat

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 113
Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysitar22

If you are interested in Maihar Gharana, there is a book called “The Classical Music of Northern Indian, Volume One,” by Ali Akbar Khan & George Ruckert”. This book goes through history/ context, practical tips, & all ten parent scales with corresponding rules & gat compositions in each rag. Maybe you could study Maihar style through skype lessons from the Ali Akbar college, I know they have a library of previous lessons in the different rags. Gaurav Mazumdar is also fantastic.

There is another book that I like called “Techniques of Sitar” (there are some typos and parts that are confusing) by Shripad Bandyopadhyaya, which contains Alap/ Jor/ Jhala examples, traditional Masit & Reza Khani gats, tans & todas in all of the main Ragas, also details about the rules of performing a complete rag in the Senia tradition. I am in the process of editing a book that I transcribed taking music from Bandyopadhaya’s other books, “Wisdom of Raga & Adachautal on Sitar”, along with rag rules and compositions from Walter Kaufman’s book, “Rags of Northern India," but it probably wouldn't be legal to share that with the public. Bandyopadhayaya studied with some interesting people, Abhaya Charan Chakraborty, (a student of Barkatullah Khan), some Rudra Veena players, and he claims to have studied with Allauddin Khan, so he has a tie to Maihar/ Senia.

The AAK book starts with Bhairav, there is a great quote in the introduction, “It is like yoga: once you can sing Bhairav & Bhairavi in the morning, and Iman Kalyan in the evening, in perfect tune, the other rags become your servants.” I have read that Annapurna Devi would start in Yaman, and the student would spend a long time learning the full rag. Maybe you could pick one of those three rags and go through all the paltas/ permutations on frets and using meend in the parent scale, right hand practice (bols/ jhala), and learn all the compositions from those two books, get each composition recorded with Tabla loop or solo for Alap. Then do the same process for the other two rags. After that is completed you could follow the progression of rags in “Techniques of Sitar” practicing the fret & meend permutations, along with the gat compositions.  Learn the compositions from the AAK book as they overlap with the Bandyopadhyaya book. During all this you could pick your favorite recording of the rag you are working on and treat it like a teacher, and try to figure out as much as possible.

I can only practice 2 hours every other day, but I start with purely technical stuff for the 1st hour, take a break, and for the second hour gat compositions. Cycle through what you deem to be important for the technical exercises. I am learning the paltas from Ravi Shankar’s book, and exercises from “Techniques of Sitar”, starting slowly, either quarter or eighth notes at 60-80 bpm, and speeding up 10-20 notches on the metronome, practicing on the frets and then using meend, until reaching 160 or until your fastest speed. Do the same process for right hand technique. Keep notes of what was practiced at what speed and how many reps, so you can move systematically through the material.

For learning gats I like to get in a certain amount of good repetitions after memorized. Luckily my voice is in C# so I sing along with the gat while playing on the frets in Sargam for 5 sets of 10, then the next session 5 sets of 10 using as much meend as possible 4/5 notes, figuring out where the most logical spots to meend from in the composition. The repetitions are only counted if played competently, always playing along with Tabla to internalize the tal structure.  Final stage is to record the piece with Tabla, and critique. After all that is completed continue practicing exercises and compositions learned, but then figure out/ transcribe favorite recording in all rags, to really get a feel for the true movement and feeling.

I recently just got back into Sitar & Surbahar after a few years not playing at all and the above is my plan of attack, but am really only at the very beginning going through Bhairav. Take all this with a grain of salt because I am just a hobbyist. Of course, having a teacher is ideal, but the way that this music is traditionally taught takes a long time if only taking lessons once a week. I think this teaching method is geared toward the old ways where a student would live with the Guru for years at a time. Filling in the blanks and practicing while on your own can help get the music to a certain level, knowing that you are just laying the ground work and technique and eventually you will have to go over the rags with a teacher.



jaysitar22,
A hundred million thanks or such a conscientious, thoughtful and helpful reply.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to describe your plan of attack (and a very helpful plan for me, I think).

I think that we are very similar; I, too, am just a hobbyist, but I like to have a thorough (but flexible) plan worked out of how I am going to do things (hence my question about this). 

And I like mining the collective and individual wisdom of others.

I actually have all of the books you mentioned, and pulled them out recently when I decided (after several years of not playing sitar) to have another go.

Well, I pulled out all of the books except the Shripad Bandyopadhyaya one - have to admit that I leafed through it, got a bit overwhelmed and put it back into its HCM section in my bookcase. But you have inspired me to use it, so thank you.

Since I started this thread I have made some progress in that I talked with Lars about various teachers, not realising that he teaches the basics, and I have settled on having Lars teach me for now.

He is starting me off with the first few exercises in the 'Sitar Manual' part of Ravi Shankar-ji's 'My Music, My Life' (which I had started on anyway).

I had also decided that I would start with Yaman (or maybe Yaman Kalyan), and had decided to supplement my lessons with a plan of the type you describe - now, however, I do not have to actually come up with a plan; I can simply use your plan and adapt it if necessary.

I do not think that I will ever be able to play anything at 160bpm, but do agree with the principle underlying what you are saying of using a metronome and/or tabla machine to regulate one's playing.

I think that the guru-shishya parampara makes sense for fewer and fewer people these days, although I do see the utility of it for those who are talented and serious enough about making music their career, and who are attitudinally and culturally suited to that way of learning.

I got a taste of what certain aspects of that were like when I took group lessons many years ago with a teacher who was a disciple of Ustad Shahid Parvez, but because of my job could not participate in other learning experiences like Shibbirs (sp.?) in addition to the group lessons.

It was fantastic being around Ustadji quit a lot, but, as you said, that traditional way of learning was very slow. I also eventually realised that my heart lay more with learning the Senia-Maihar, dhrupad baaj way of playing than continuing to learn the Etawah-Imdadkhani baaj.

And other things happened with my teacher, which, as a Westerner, I eventually decided I wanted no part of (those kind of politics are the unfortunate side of HCM).

Many thanks again for your help, and have fun with your playing.

0
interesting_steve@yahoo.com

Avatar / Picture

Junior Member
Registered:
Posts: 12
Reply with quote  #8 
I have recently bought from Lars the Indrajit Banerjee dvd, Introduction to Raga Jhinjoti. Great teacher. There is no notation with it as it is a 'follow me ' instruction dvd. Enjoying it as it makes you very focussed on what he is doing. Really enjoyed the Josh Feinburg Star Method book and video lessons. The Indrajit dvd will certainly keep me occupied until this dreaded pandenic is over and I can hook up with a teacher.
0
drutgat

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 113
Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by interesting_steve@yahoo.com
I have recently bought from Lars the Indrajit Banerjee dvd, Introduction to Raga Jhinjoti. Great teacher. There is no notation with it as it is a 'follow me ' instruction dvd. Enjoying it as it makes you very focussed on what he is doing. Really enjoyed the Josh Feinburg Star Method book and video lessons. The Indrajit dvd will certainly keep me occupied until this dreaded pandenic is over and I can hook up with a teacher.

Hi steve,
Thanks for mentioning Indrajit Banerjee's DVDs, and Josh Feinberg's book.

I bought three of Indrajit's DVDs from Lars several years ago, and recently pulled out the 'Introduction to Raga Malkauns' lesson.

I like it a lot, but will circle back to it after I have established more of a firm grasp of the basics.

At the moment, when I do exercises involving using meendh in a descending scale, it sounds like I am murdering a cat.

I, too, have the Josh Feinberg book, which I bought a few years ago, but the lessons in there are audio lessons: perhaps more recent editions have video lessons (are yours video, or did you make a mistake when you said that?).

Thanks again,

Geert.
0
interesting_steve@yahoo.com

Avatar / Picture

Junior Member
Registered:
Posts: 12
Reply with quote  #10 
Hi Geert. The Josh Feinberg book I have is the Deluxe edition, I bought it 5 months ago. It contains 42 audio tracks and 28 video clips. There is a code inside the front of the book. You log onto the Hal Leonard website library, put the code in and the audio and clips are there . You can download them too. Very good.
As far as ' murdering a cat ' goes I have noticed something. I have 3 sitars ( long story ) . My recent one with really large frets gives a lovely clean sound when using meend. The other sitar have thinner frets which can give a screaching sound if the technique is not spot on. So it may be the fret structure or technique or both. I guess the thicker frets have more surface for the string to lay on to give a cleaner sound.
This may not be the answer but just something interesting I noticed.
Regards
Steve
0
drutgat

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 113
Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by interesting_steve@yahoo.com
Hi Geert. The Josh Feinberg book I have is the Deluxe edition, I bought it 5 months ago. It contains 42 audio tracks and 28 video clips. There is a code inside the front of the book. You log onto the Hal Leonard website library, put the code in and the audio and clips are there . You can download them too. Very good.
As far as ' murdering a cat ' goes I have noticed something. I have 3 sitars ( long story ) . My recent one with really large frets gives a lovely clean sound when using meend. The other sitar have thinner frets which can give a screaching sound if the technique is not spot on. So it may be the fret structure or technique or both. I guess the thicker frets have more surface for the string to lay on to give a cleaner sound.
This may not be the answer but just something interesting I noticed.
Regards
Steve

Hi Steve,
Many thanks for your message.

It was very helpful, thank you.

I did not know that there was a Deluxe edition of the Josh Feinberg book, so that explains the video clips.

I only have access to the audio clips, which I downloaded from the Hal Leonard website when I originally bought the book several years ago.

Thank you for suggesting how I could sound less like I am murdering a cat. What you said is good advice, although I think the source of my problem is not a scratching sound when I try to do meendh (I made sure that I spent enough time on the frets with cotton wool when I changed my strings recently to get rid of any of that kind of scratchy sound – not sure if you play guitar, but the same thing can happen with frets on the guitar).

My problem is simply one of intonation– i.e., I often overshoot the pitch of the note I am trying to bend up to, which of course makes things sound out of tune. And when I am doing the kind of Sapat exercise such as the first one found in PRS's book, the overall effect is compounded because you are bending to the note (or, in my case trying to bend to the note, and often failing), and immediately moving onto the next note and bending to another note, and so on, creating a cacaphony of out-of-tune notes.

I will, however, bear in mind what you said about your learning that thinner frets can exacerbate that kind of screeching sound.

I wonder if, with your other sitar with the thinner frets, you are for some reason pushing down on the string (before or after you do the meendh) too hard, because that would, of course, alter the pitch of the resulting note.

Thanks again for your help.

All the best,

Geert.
0
interesting_steve@yahoo.com

Avatar / Picture

Junior Member
Registered:
Posts: 12
Reply with quote  #12 
Hi Geert, yes it is all about learning and finding out. I have played and performed with the guitar for almost 50 years. I have always set up and worked on my guitars. I have had my own rhythm and blues band of which I was the singer and guitarist for the last 10 years playing many festivals. Closed it in January due to a couple of members not fully committed. Also have been a slide guitar teacher, which also focuses the ear to pitch.
A section of Raga Jhinjoti I am practising requires a pulled meend note to start with so I am getting a feel to where that precise pitch is on the fret. Challenging and very enjoyable.
I think if I made a point of fully investigating the not so clean notes on my thinner fret sitars I will identify the problem. It only happens now and then.
Anyway it is a joy to learn.
Regards
Steve.
0
drutgat

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 113
Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by interesting_steve@yahoo.com
Hi Geert, yes it is all about learning and finding out. I have played and performed with the guitar for almost 50 years. I have always set up and worked on my guitars. I have had my own rhythm and blues band of which I was the singer and guitarist for the last 10 years playing many festivals. Closed it in January due to a couple of members not fully committed. Also have been a slide guitar teacher, which also focuses the ear to pitch.
A section of Raga Jhinjoti I am practising requires a pulled meend note to start with so I am getting a feel to where that precise pitch is on the fret. Challenging and very enjoyable.
I think if I made a point of fully investigating the not so clean notes on my thinner fret sitars I will identify the problem. It only happens now and then.
Anyway it is a joy to learn.
Regards
Steve.

Thanks very much, Steve.

I have only gigged a couple of times in my life, so I envy you that, as well as your ability to find people to be in a band (and attend rehearsals - I had enough of people being inconsistent and gave up on trying to get bands together quite a while ago).

Good luck with the meend for the first note in Jhinjoti.

You are right, slide teaches very precise intonation - George Harrison was the King of precise, clean, interesting, melodic slide parts.
0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.