Sitar - Basic

The sitar is one of the most popular instruments in Hindustani shashtriya sangeet and is a versatile instrument. Its ability to producs a deeply emotive tone that is very close to the human voice with agility and liveliness has made a very sought after instrument. In this course the artist Sri B.Siva Ramakrishna Rao who is the disciple of the late Ustad Ahmed Hussain Khan presents the various aspects of a Sitar from a very basic level, though very necessary to form a solid base. Sri Rao delves into the Sitar's history, its parts, lessons amongst other things to give you a comprehensive outlook.

Instructor: Sivaramakrishna Rao B

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Suggested Time

3 weeks







Unit 1: Initiation

History & Introduction 12 min

The Sitar has it roots in the other equally popular plucked stringed instrument from India, the Veena. It was later modified by the Persians and came to be known at the Seetar. Upon its return to the Indian shores, it was rechristened as the Sitar.
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Unit 2: Foundation

Types & Tuning of Sitar 9 min

There are three types of sitars having a variety of sub-styles and decorative patterns. The two popular styles are the "gayaki style" sitars also called "Vilayat Khan style sitars" and the full decorated "instrumental style" sitars called "Ravi Shankar style sitars". The gayaki style sitar is mostly of seasoned toon wood, with hardly any carved decorations. It often has a dark polish. The inlay decorations are mostly of mother of pearl (imitation). The number of sympathetic strings is limited to eleven but may extend to thirteen. Jawari (bridge) grinding styles are also different, as is the thickness of the "tabli" (soundboard).A sitar can be tuned a variety of ways and can be tuned to different keys usually from B to D. A fairly standard tuning is the key of C; however, certain performers such as Ravi Shankar tune their sitars to C#. Also note that various ragas demand that the sitar be re-tuned to a different key. For most beginners, it is recommended to start out with the key of C.
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Unit 3: Lessons

Getting Started 21 min

This unit deals with initiating the student into HIndustani classical music by introducing the Swaras and then teaching the Sitar through the classic Raga Yaman.Yaman is considered to be one of the most fundamental ragas in the Hindustani Classical tradition, it is thus often one of the first ragas taught to students. They are suitable to be played at any time of the day, but are traditionally performed in the evening.The seven basic swaras of the scale are named shadja, rishabh, gandhar, madhyam, pancham, dhaivat and nishad, and are shortened to Sa, Ri (Carnatic) or Re (Hindustani), Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni and written S, R, G, M, P, D, N. Palta means turned around that the same pattern repeats itself. They are basically scales in western music. Palta means singing the notes with different combination and upside down of musical notes. Palta is the different combination of swaras for vocal exercises.Paltas are useful for practicing ear training and pattern manipulation inside scales.
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Unit 4: Another Step

Fingering 17 min

The sitar, has been heavily influenced by the vocal genres of dhrupad and khyal, the percussion repertoire, as well as teen (the Indian lute) and rabab techniques. The style (manner of ornamentation notes, fingering techniques, stroking techniques), performance structure of playing (raag exposition foundation taal) and tonal quality of the instrument can vary considerably from one artist to another.The thumb stays anchored on the top of the fretboard just above the main gourd. Generally only the index and middle fingers are used for fingering although a few players occasionally use the third. A specialized technique called "meend" involves pulling the main melody string down over the bottom portion of the sitar's curved frets, with which the sitarist can achieve a seven semitone range of microtonal notes (it should be noted, however, that because of the sitar's movable frets, sometimes a fret may be set to a microtone already, and no bending would be required).
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Concert Pattern 4 min

This short piece is the Druth in Teentaal(16 beats) which is thought to be the King of all rhythms. Teental is the most common rhythm used in Indian Classical music with all different laya-s (tempos). If one is proficient in playing in teentaal, then other rhythms without any difficulty.
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