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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 

I have been learning the Bansuri and can play all the octaves and some paltas and alankaars fairly well ... and now I am looking for some music to play ... and I have NOT really found any.

If you play the Western flute there are hundreds of books with music ... but I have found very very little for the Bansuri. Just a few movie songs, and some small raga compositions.

There are no raga teachers near me ... so I don't know what to do. I really like this instrument but I work best having some structured exercises or music to learn from ... and I don't have anything really. Playing alankaars is ok - I like it ... but there is not much point if there is no music to play after I get good.

Can anyone help ???


Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #2 
Well, I have just ordered copies of the following books in the hope that they provide something :

The Ragas of Northern Indian Music
The Raga Guide - A survey of 74 Hindustani Ragas

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for all the replies, I am overwhelmed with the silence.

Just in case anyone is wondering ...

The Raga Guide seems like a great book, nice format, 4 CDs as well, and has about 30secs of music transcribed for each raga in Western and ICM notation, the transcriptions being some small section of the recording for each raga along with a 'melodic outline' also transcribed, and of a course a description of the Raga. And the CDs seem very good. I have just emailed Nimbus who published the book and recommended they transcribe the entire performance of each raga rather than just the first 30 sec section.

The Danielou book has a long introduction on ICM including very technical details and references many ancient manuscripts; the Ragas are described with a lot of emotional information, the transcriptions are only in Western notation, and are much harder to read than in the Raga Guide because of the average quality of inscription in the book. Not sure I can use this for anything much personally. Might even send it back.

There is also the Ali Akhbar Khan book which has a small transcription for each raga, that perhaps I underestimated when I sent it back last fortnight.

All in all the amount of transcribed music is tiny and Jesus is this a pain in the backside. If the guitar had been this difficult to learn I wouldn't have managed it.

I hope someone will arrive one day and produce some good instructional books on raga, and not be fooled that they are too 'mystical' to be transcribed and instructed usefully in a book.

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Reply with quote  #4 
LOL. Yeah, sometimes the advice just comes flooding in.
I was going to respond the other day but after typing a bunch of stuff out and pushing Submit, I had already been logged out and lost all my post.
So I gave up.

You are looking for something that is a bit complex.
Hindustani Classical music does not rely on written music.
It is hard to find a "piece of music" to play, and a transcription of a performance would not really be a good way to learn to play ICM, as you would just be parroting an improvised performance.
Ragas performances are basically improvisations that are different each time the musician performs the Raga.

You have to learn to play ragas.
Learning a raga is like learning a language.
It takes time, and once you learn the language you can speak, or in this case, play music.
Historically, a teacher will impart to you the knowledge over time by example or by singing to you.
There is a notation system for this music, but it is limited and minimalistic compared to the way the music should be played.
It would be very hard to impart all that is needed to perform through written notation.

There are small compositions called a "gat" that is usually a couple of lines long.
These are used as base to improvise around.
They are not really songs.
There are folk tunes (Dhun) that one could learn, but even those are based in a raga.

The best advice if you want to learn Indian Classical Music is to find a good teacher and start practicing.
You won't regret it if you like ICM.
When you finally start to understand a Raga and can perform all the parts, all the way through, it is very exciting.
The improvisational nature of the music is liberating.

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Reply with quote  #5 
+1 to all cwroyds has said.

Part of the misunderstanding at play here is the word "composition". It is used (at least by my teacher, and I think in general by many in ICM) as a synonym for the gat or bandish, or the pre-composed components of a raga performance. Bear in mind those pre-composed portions are only a small piece of the whole performance. So a composition is less a transcription of an entire performance, and more the building blocks from which a performance may be constructed. For a comparison, look at jazz (I know people must grimace every time we compare jazz to ICM, but in this case I think the comparison is valid), in which you can buy "fake books" full of charts that have the basic chord structure, and the melody of the "head". That's in large part what the composition/gat of a raga is...a basic melody that forms the foundation, after which the performer expound and improvises upon it greatly, all within the rules and rasa of the raga itself.

So if you are looking for a note by note chart encompassing a full raga performance from start to finish, you may find it, but it sort of misses the character and nature of Indian classical music. I should think most teachers will start you off, however, learning fixed pieces (even the normally improvised taans and embellishments will probably be taught fixed at first), so if you find a good teacher, well, that's a great step.

If you do have a gat in some raga that you can play, work on that, and depending what taal (say, tintal) its in, work on embellishing improvised phrases (that fit within the rules of the raga) that land on the sam or 1st beat in the cycle. If you have a tabla machine or loop that can help too. Indrajit Banerjee did a good explanation of this in his Yaman instructional is sitar based, but the basic rules are the same.

Before finding my teacher I spent most of my playing in more of an "alap" mode, mimicking phrases I heard used by the great players, and just improvising in the raag structure. Find a raag that moves you (for me it was Yaman) and listen to it a great deal by many different artists (flautists, sitarists, sarodiyas, vocalists, etc.) and once you internalize it a bit, the improvisation comes much more natural. For instance I had a hard time at first remembering to skip sa in ascent in Yaman. Now I've internalized those sorts of rules that if I accidentally played Ni Sa Re Ga tMa Pa, it would just sound/feel wrong to me, ie., it would sound like Lydian mode, not Raag Yaman.

Anyway, these are just some ideas from a fellow beginner. Although it can be tough to find resources to learn (this art is relatively obscure in the West still), at least learning in the 2010s we have a great deal of online resources that folks 20,30,40 years ago didn't have available to them.

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #6 
Hey guys.

Look, I am learning ICM for quite profound reasons, I want to experience Indian consciousness, I am half Indian, though born in the West - so please don't think I am unappreciative or shallow.

However, I do want to learn, and I want to learn now. And it's really hard. I have one small section of Yaman from The Raga Guide - ok I can play it, now what ? I can't just 'improvise' over 20 seconds forever you know, it's boring !

Also, I have a Hariprasad video of Hansadhwani : I play 10 seconds, and then copy that phrase over and over. But where is this going ? It would be better for me to learn some basic 'songs' ... i.e. compositions, that actually I can take some pride in .. and then improvise over them - at least then I don't have to wait 5 years to produce my first piece of music.

But this is really unnecessarily boring and hard. Yes, I can get a teacher but it's really a waste of his time and expensive for me to get an advanced player to tell me to do Alankaar 123 321 !!

I just need some music at this stage I think.

So, you mentioned these folk tunes (dhun) : where can I get these from ?? Can you recommend anything.


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Posts: 2,223
Reply with quote  #7 
So you want to learn ICM for "quite profound reasons", and you want to "experience Indian consciousness", but you have no interest in actually do what it takes to learn to play Indian Classical Music?
Does not quite make sense to me. There is no shortcut.
To play Indian Classical Music you HAVE to learn to play Ragas.
That is what the music is.
We all want to suddenly be playing this music, but that is fantasy.
You will not "experience Indian consciousness" by playing a few folk tunes from sheets of music.
It is a bit like saying "I want to experience enlightenment, but I don't want to have to learn to meditate"

I googled Bansuri and saw several sites with raga info on them including some Gats and Taans.
There are also live online lessons offered.
Where are you from? There might be a bansuri teacher near you that you do not know about.
And by the way, you say you don't want to pay someone to teach you exercises, but that is part of the learning process.
It won't be that long before you start playing something satisfying.
But you cant just ahead and just start playing.
It is like saying you want to play Jazz solos like Coltrane, but you don't want to have to learn any scales.
With out a little bit of patience, you have absolutely no chance to learn ICM.

The only advice I can give you if you do not want to actually learn how to play ICM correctly, you will have to pick it up by ear, playing along with recordings.
It does not have to be just Bansuri music.
You can learn from playing with other instruments and vocals.
ICM is an interesting music in that all instruments are trying to do the same thing, they are trying to imitate vocal performance.
Get recordings from great singers like Amir Khan, play along with the Alaap and you will be learning the notes and phrases that make up the raga.
Learn the Gat being sung, which is as close to a "song" as you are going to find.
Hopefully you will find some satisfaction in this.

Other than that you either have to learn to play the real music with a teacher, or be happy just noodling.
Honestly, there is no source for long written pieces for any instrument in ICM.
It is just not the way it is.

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Reply with quote  #8 
Why not just go right to the source.
Contact Hari Prasad Chaurasia himself and ask him what to do.
You will probably get an answer, but it is probably going to be the same one we gave you.

In the meantime, here are some Dhun performances with Hariprasad Chaurasia bansuri that you can try to follow by ear. The Alaap portion is freeform, but you can search for the actual "tune" when it starts up.

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia/Ustad Zakir Hussain (Pahadi Dhun 1/2)

Dhun dadra - Classical Instrumental - Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia & Ustad Zakir Hussein

Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbhushan Kabra & Hariprasad Chaurasia - Dhun-Mishra Kirwani

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #9 
Thanks for the links.

But I think I have found something really good - you see asking millions of questions works !

Posts: 101
Reply with quote  #10 
I am curious to know if you got that book and if it did help you towards your goal.
I have been playing bansuri for 20 yrs, the first 10 without a guru using self help tools and now I realize how many suboptimal habits I had picked up during those years that impeded my progress after I found a guru.
Jeff Whittier

Posts: 125
Reply with quote  #11 
I have a DVD/booklet tutorial of bansuri music which is composed of 4 sargams & 10 bandishes specifically for flute. If you're interested, you can PM me.
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