Last Day

April 3, 2007

Well, just finished working on my piece for tomorrow. I learned the opening, which is a slow section. Still got to watch the leg, because it falls asleep after awhile of playing. I’m really happy I got this opportunity to do this piece. …And here’s what it sounds like!!:

Since I don’t have transcribe anymore, I had to rely on the music at performace speed. I have a really hard time hearing the ornamentation. Even if I do catch it, I don’t know what exactly he’s doing to create the sound. Perhaps if I grew up in the Indian Sitar tradition I would be able to transcribe this piece more easily?


Improv woes

March 20, 2007

Here’s a close up of me practicing. The left hand looks good! Fingers should be right behind the fret, like on guitar. (On the right hand you can view authentic Indian bangles.)Practicing SitarOkay…still thinking this is harder than I thought. I feel like I’m getting somewhere, then I play back what I learned, and I only have about 10sec. of music I know! It’s hard and fast!

Yay…maybe I’m getting somewhere!!! Check out this sitting position! My teacher in England told me that he was once at a Sitar concert and when the performer was finished he stood up to bow, and promptly fell over! He had other stories too about sitar players who, after playing awhile, couldn’t even stand up! …gotta love the hazards of the trade 🙂Practicing Sitar

More measures

March 18, 2007

I did some more work on my solo today. Wow, it’s more difficult than I thought it would be. I’m having trouble because I’m learning this piece without knowing any technique of the instrument. I can hear the performer doing ornaments, but I can’t imitate them because I don’t know how. I can recognize turns, that I’m playing in three different positions, but who’s to say he’s not bending the notes so he stays in the same place? I’m going to try and learn up until the ‘opening theme’ returns. Wish me luck!!

Yeah, kinda worried that my Transcribe is going to run out in 7 days!!!


March 14, 2007

I realized that there is repetition in my piece! The opening passage comes back verbatim.  I also realized that I’m having trouble imitating the ornaments! I can tell they’re there, because the note either bends or wobbles in some way, but I’m not exactly sure what the sitar player is doing! Right now I’m just leaving the ornamentation out, and if I have time, I’ll go back and do it later.

I FINALLY HAVE TALCUM POWDER!! I know, it’s a funny thing to get excited about, but I since I bought it, I haven’t been able to tune the upper strings becuase they were slipping really badly (like a full rotation badly). Anyway, I’m finally able to play with all my strings, although in the piece I’m learning I’m not using the upper strings, so it doesn’t make much of a difference quite yet.

Learning Piece

March 14, 2007

One of the things I learned about playing sitar…is that it hurts to play it!! I can’t even sit right!! It’s supposed to be like this, a half lotus.sitar position

For this project I tuned my sitar is C, because that’s the key the piece is in! At the end of February I started learning my piece (by Volker Kriegel) and here’s what I wrote:

I’m learning it ‘measure by measure’ (I put it in quotes, because I’m describing Indian music in a Western way!) listening to the recording then getting the notes first. I then listen for the rhythm. Knowing the correct fingering is challanging because I’m creating my own technique. (Should I use my first, second or even third finger? I don’t know!) Sometimes I miss high notes because my knee is in the way. (I think Indians are more flexible…well, I know it takes practice to get comfortable in this position.) So far I’ve been able to catch all hte notes and rhythms at real time, but I hit the first fast section where I couldn’t so I’m using the program Transcribe to slow the music down. Even at 70% tempo, there’s still a guess and check component.. (I don’t have the best ear, so it’s quite rewarding when I figure it out!)  I  find that when I work with Transcribe doing little bits at a time is best..say three or four notes. That way it’s easier for me to remember the melody notes, and I don’t learn it incorrectly.

Sitar, my love!

March 8, 2007

Recently I went on a trip to India… it was so much fun!!

Well, I’m half indian (my dad was born and raised in India), so as soon as I had the occasion to touch and Indian instrument, while I was in England for an exchange, I took Sitar lessons at the conservatory I was visiting. It was totally awesome, and of course I started dreaming about having my own Sitar.

As luck or coincidence, however you want to call it, put things together, in January I went on a trip to India to see my family and well, I took the occasion to take a little trip to a known music shop in Delhi, right near the beautiful Jami Masjid… and there we go!! Wow, I got so surprised since the instruments there are so beautiful, all from luthiery naturally (have you ever heard anything about a sitar industry?!?) and all so inexpensive!

Actually, it took a couple of days in order to do the bargaining-choosing-testing-analyzing-riding to the shop etc. (in Delhi everything takes so long!), but at the end I bought my little puppet-sitar here. It sounds really great!Me at the Jami Masjid

And here I am just after buying the Sitar, you can see the mosque in the background:

Just after buying the sitar