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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #31 
Fosse since you seem to be enjoying this discussion -- this is for you

Here is another website that provides many references to the first appearances of and the evolution of the various kinds of Vina that precede the Persian influence and also presents some of the challenges of doing this research. Since the evidence of early forms of the instrument is found in various paintings, icons and sculptures scattered across India it requires knowledge of Vedic scripture, sculptural art history, early musical scholarly works and multilingual written evidence. The Sanskrit references are in at least two different pre-Devanagiri written formats, also in Tamil and Hindi, Gujarati and other Indian language texts so even for Indian scholars, this becomes quite a task.

While nobody can say for certain, Or I certainly cannot, I think there is at least some mystery around this subject so we all speculate. It appears that some basic variants of Vina were in existence when the Persians arrived and that under benevolent and art loving kings like Akbar, there was a cultural fusion that fostered the evolution of existing Vina to the creation of the modern form of the sitar and sarod. And the Maihar and Imdadkhani gharanas played a big role in what we see today in both these instruments, actually the bansuri too, in its large concert bass form is a Maihar gharana adaptation of a folk instrument.

http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/hist_01.html#par1

The earliest known depiction of the stick-zither appears on a mural painting in one of the Buddhist caves of Ajanta (in the state of Maharashtra) and dates back to the end of the Gupta period (5th century A.D.). http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/pop_hist1.html

It shows Lord Indra with a celestial being on his right-hand side. In the palm of his right hand, the latter holds a long, slender stick, whose upper end rests on his right shoulder. A very flared resonator is fixed on top of the stick and the celestial being appears to be singing while plucking the single string of his instrument.

Ajanta (cave 17), end of the 5th century A.D. http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/pop_hist3.html

This stick-zither may have been the vina that goes by the name of ghosaka in the Natya-shastra, the renowned treatise on dramatic arts that appeared towards the beginning of the Christian era. In this tome, the ghosaka is mentioned as a secondary instrument probably serving as a drone.

http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/hist_02.html#par1

Among the different kinds of vina that were in use at that time, the one named ekatantri (literally, one string) bore a resemblance to the alapini vina.

It could be distinguished from the latter though: the ekatantri bore a long wooden tube instead of the stick and had a wide bridge on the tailpiece, a piece of wood fitted to the lower end of the tube. Variations in pitch were obtained by sliding a little wooden rod, held in the left hand of the musician, along the gut string. It was thus possible to produce the most delicate pitch nuances on an instrument of rather simple workmanship.

Sarasvati, Gorakhpur, probably from the 10th century http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/pop_hist4.html

This exquisite sculpture depicts the Goddess Sarasvati - deity of wisdom and knowledge, patron of the arts – playing the ekatantri vina. The latter instrument appears on many temple sculptures built between the 9th and 12th centuries A.D.

Like the alapini, it would retain a certain prestige until the end of the 18th century. Considered the mother of all vina, the virtues of the ekatantri are extolled by Sanskrit authors writing on music (11th to 13th centuries A.D.). Due to its playing technique, it was the ideal instrument for the alap, the unmeasured, improvised prelude in which the melodic features of the raga are demonstrated and systematically unfolded.

Described at length by Sarngadeva in his 13th century treatise Sangita-ratnakara, the alap would evolve through time to become the essential part of the raga.

Detail of a carving from the Pala era, 10th century http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/pop_hist5.html
               

An early reference to Persian review of these instruments:
       
A vina similar to the ekatantri appears in one of the folios of the Ghunyat al-munya, a treatise written in Persian and commissioned by the Governor of Gujarat to raise awareness among the Muslim ruling class on the musical art forms of India.

http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/pop_hist6.html

The anonymous author of this text highlights the large number of instruments then in use (quite a few of which were vina) and imparts valuable information on contemporary musical practices. For instance, he mentions that the tube of this vina, called balki (Sanskrit: valakki), was lengthened to bear twenty-one marks, which accurately corresponded to the seven notes on the musical scale over a range of three octaves.

A variant of this instrument, the bipanchi, (Sanskrit: vipanchi) with two strings and two resonators, also features among the twenty illustrations of this tome. Both vina had a curved tailpiece that supported a wide and flat bridge, a feature that would be essential to this family of instruments.

The appearance of frets towards the end of the first millennium marked a significant stage in the history of Indian music. By this period, the harps and lutes of ancient India had actually disappeared and stick-zithers had evolved into a rich typology of instruments.

Abaneri, temple of Harsat-Mata,8th - 9th centuries         http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/pop_hist7.html        

The musical theory of the Natya-shastra had been supplanted by a modal system based on a fixed note of reference (keynote) ; and it is not unlikely that frets, then used to measure intervals and demonstrate the validity of the new system, had played a cardinal role in these developments. Among the earliest known evidence on fretted vina number the carved walls of the Harsat-Mata temple at Abaneri (in Rajasthan).

One of them depicts a woman playing a vina without a resonator. High frets are clearly seen positioned on the base of a tube fitted with a tailpiece similar to the one on the ekatantri vina.

In central India, a major school of architecture developed under the patronage of the Hoysala kings between 1050 and 1300 A.D. The proponents of this faction set great store on the representation of music on the richly adorned inner walls of sanctuaries.

Among the numerous instruments finely chiselled on stone, which are an invaluable source of information on the techniques of instrument-making prevalent in that era, the fretted vina appears frequently. The temples of Belur (1117) and Halebid (1121), renowned for their sculptures and their musical depictions, provide typical examples of these vina. In Halebid, the instrument held vertically by the figure on the right has a small spherical resonator and increasingly wide frets.

http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/pop_hist8.html

The apotheosis of the Indo-Persian culture went hand in hand with the golden age of the Mughal Empire in the Subcontinent.

Akbar (whose reign extended from 1556 to 1605) was not only the founder of an extraordinary empire but also a monarch besotted by art and passionate about music; he was incidentally an excellent naqqara (kettledrums) player himself.

Abul Fazl Allami, his historian and biographer, describes the pomp and splendours of a ceremonial court where multitudes of musicians stayed and intermingled: Indians, those originally from Iran and Central Asia. It was in this context that the vocal art form, dhrupad, flourished: composed with lyrics in regional languages, it was accompanied by the rabab or the vina.

Kirya comment: So according to this research what we know as sitar and sarod probably emerged from these instruments that accompanied Dhrupad singers during Akbars time and was the result of cultural fusion from these above referenced cultures.

This musical genre reached the summit of its glory during the Mughal period and would remain prominent until the second half of the 18th century, the age that heralded the development of khyal singing.

The Mughal monarchs were particularly fond of iconographic themes depicting spiritual quests. While power was rewarded with material success, the pursuit for knowledge and wisdom remained, in their eyes, the ultimate aspiration.

Thus, Mughal painters created a large number of miniatures showing princes with ascetics. One of the jewels in the court of Shahjahan (reign: 1628 – 1658), the illustrious painter Govardhan, composed this magnificent painting by paying meticulous attention to the smallest of details. The expressions on the faces of each of the three characters portray a surprising degree of realism. The bin is depicted simply but accurately. Over and above the pegs and frets that are faultlessly reproduced, the tailpiece attached to the base of the tube shows two lateral appendices which are none other than the two tiny lateral bridges that the bin of our times still bears.

               
Prince and hermits, credited to Govardhan, Mughal School, towards 1630 http://www.rudravina.com/html_gb/pop_hist14.html

On each of these bridges, we see a string that enjoyed the role of both drone string and rhythmical counterpoint, the melodic string – doubled here – being stretched over the frets. In all likeliness, the three-stringed bin described by Abul Fazl (as well as the one at the Musée de la musique) had the same arrangement, which, with its single melodic string, is reminicent of the ancient ekatantri vina.

There are some other early references to notes from Italian travelers in the 1600's who attended a Vina concert that are also interesting.

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Kirya
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #32 
Great stuff, nifty post and evocative of the immensely rich religious and musical heritage of India. As a point of interest I would say the VK style sitar (Etawah Gharana) is essentially a ONE STRING instrument plus drone (+ taraf) so in a sense is related and may even have sprung in some arcane form from the ekatantri veena....

The one thing I think we tend to ignore is that the court of Akbar came from PERSIA and so the instruments most likely to have already been firmly established among the court musicians to the King would be.... Persian and chief among those could well have been the SEHTAR. Did I spell it right this time? So to me all of this is an immense stew of unknowable complexities as to WHO took WHAT from WHOM and came up with the first sitar recognizable as such? Amir Khusrau? So the legend tells us........

https://www.google.com/#q=amir+khusrau
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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #33 
Here is another website with some interesting references that also discusses how the modern instrument known as Vina, Sitar and Sarod are results of hybridization of multiple cultures.


http://www.southindianveena.net/history.html


http://www.southindianveena.net/imagesdetravail/mahabali.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazh

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottuvadhyam

http://www.southindianveena.net/imagesdetravail/Jantar.jpg

This instrument is still found being played by street musicians in India and looks like it could have been made 1000 years ago without too much trouble

Quote:
Many music instruments in the world are born out of hybridization. The blend of the native stick Zither with the long-necked lute, brought by the muslim invasions, giving birth to the Hindusthani Sitar or to the Sarasvati Veena is not something exceptional either for the Indian organology. One of the main features of India is certainly, more than to fight them, its ability to assimilate all the foreign contributions, to transmute them and to include them in its own cultural enrichment. An instrument like the Sarod, coming from Afghanistan, got sympathetic strings and an upper resonator when it arrived in India. The tablas borrowed their name, and maybe also partly their shape from some Arabic instruments, still keeping many important features of the native Pakhavaj.

The Sitar and the Veena appeared more or less at the same time, in the XVIIth century. The invention of the Sarasvati Vina is imputed to the Raja Raghunatha of Tanjore (1600–1634), assisted by his minister the musician Govinda Diksitar. The son of Diksitar, Venkatamakhin, wrote the treatise Caturdandi Prakasika where for the first time is explained the system of the seventy-two fondamental scales, or mela-karta, the basis of the modern Carnatic music. Obviously there is a direct link between this theoretical contribution and the invention of the Vina which, thanks to its twelve fixed frets in each octave, is able to play accurately all these scales without a change of tuning.
Since those times the Veena hasn''t changed much in its structure, but has slightly increased in size, mostly because of the change in its playing position, from a vertical one (urdhva) to a more horizontal one, in use nowadays.

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Kirya
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Reply with quote  #34 
A final answer to the question "Who made Vilayat Khan's Sitar?":

All the musicians and instrument makers before him, along with VK himself, who was very active in working with the builder (Hiren Roy) to strengthen the neck, thereby avoiding a sag in pitch on the drone strings when doing meend. I believe there were several other enhancements that he and he alone pioneered. GF
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #35 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "fossesitar"
I believe there were several other enhancements that he and he alone pioneered. GF
I've heard this before, but found any verification.
Does anyone out there have some factual information about what these enhancements were?
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #36 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "fossesitar"
is essentially a ONE STRING instrument plus drone (+ taraf) so in a sense is related and may even have sprung in some arcane form from the ekatantri veena....
That's a very interesting observation.
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #37 
Rex - I have read that VK pioneered the use of a steel reinforcing rod for the neck/toomba juncture to reduce/eliminate pitch sag during meend. Certainly the performance of my new Hiren Roy would support that hypothesis (see my detailed comments on the "new baby" post) but I have no other verification. I believe VK pioneered the GA drone tuning and I suspect there is at least one or two more enhancements he made but no further info on this at this juncture. GF
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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #38 
Here is a presentation by Ajay Sharma of RikhiRam & Co in Delhi explaining how he thinks the sitar evolved from Tritantri Vina, Sehtar and Sarangi. As ideas were borrowed and modified across these instruments.

Gives us reason to think that the instrument could still evolve if you could keep critical qualities intact.

It is as plausible as many of the other theories and it is useful to get the perspective of a guy who makes sitars -- he also plays a concert after his explanation which I did not watch, but he probably plays better than most other makers. Actually after skipping through some sections I would bet that he plays better than most of the people who buy sitars from him.

After watching this I have a new found respect for the sitar I got from him in 2011 -- I think it does matter that the sitar maker be able to play at a basic level at least to make good instruments.


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Kirya
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Reply with quote  #39 
Hi, all: hope life's good.

Allow my 2 cents:
1. What VK did to his father's sitar was discussed by A. Parikh and it's featured on a 1990 SRA/Kkt publication named Seminar on Sitar: All major ghar's are there (Anyone for posting the music of Bimal Mukherjee sitarya of Jaipur/Alwar?): That's for you, DrWatson!
Early this year another installment of that
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