INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: How do you determine the tonic?

 

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Billy
How do you determine the tonic? Sep 16, 2003 11:58 p.m.


Hi all,

It seems that there was a short description on finding the proper tonic for the individual instrument, rather than using an A=440 C#, but I just can't find it. The idea was that there is a certain note frequency that provides the best resonance on the instrument, then you tune the rest of strings based on that tonic (or calibrate your chromatic tuner to that frequency for C# that you have determined, if your tuner has the capability.)

Anyway, I can't find the message; perhaps its my imagination?

I have already posted my appreciation of tuning the tarbs first, then tuning the mains off the tarbs. But this could be an even better method if we tune the tarbs based on the tonic we find for the particular instrument.

Any help?

By the way, starting tomorrow, I may be away from the Internet for a few days. This is rare for me, even in Tibet I was updating a website daily, and am usually always able to get to email. But I'll be off-network until probably Saturday. I hope I don't have withdrawal pains!! Anyway, if I don't respond to replies right away, its just a temporary disruption.


Namaste',
Billy Enigmar Godfrey
AJ
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 17, 2003 12:09 a.m.


Is this it? Russ's post under "Using a Chromatic Tuner"?

"OK! Here's a freebie for you ($30 for me). Don't blame me if it sounds a little like voodoo!
Detune your 3rd and 4th strings to around a B, and hook them down (won't work if you don't have a hook on your top fret). Now tune them up to a C and play a mid C note (7th fret). Stick your ear down to the hooked strings and listen closely. If you don't hear anything from them, then tune both up to around a sixteenth step or so, and then play a meend to the same note. Keep doing that until you actually hear your muted/hooked strings suddenly sing (the voodoo part) and you will have found the best tonic for your sitar. At that frequency, it should sing its little heart out! Forget about half-notes, quarter-notes, and all that. We're talking about shrutis here, the magic of the microtones. Ready for this? That's also one among several of the secrets behind why the original stradivarious sounded so good when it was first made. The entire instrument, not just the strings, vibrated at its "natural frequency". So there you go.......
Date: Sep 06, 2002 on 06:08 p.m. "

Is this what you're looking for Billy?

AJ

Billy
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 17, 2003 12:27 a.m.


YES!! I do believe that's what I was looking for. Many thanks for the help!
Namaste',
Billy Enigmar Godfrey
Russ
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 17, 2003 11:32 a.m.


Hope that explanation makes sense! Still sounds a bit like voodoo to me. That's something Indrajit taught me last year. I rather imagine the effect would be more noticable with a tun sitar than with teak, since the tabli thickness tends to be more with teak.

OK, I've finally registered myself on here, but I notice sometimes the login doesn't work. No data received by David's server...

pb
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 17, 2003 02:34 p.m.


I should try that voodoo, but I don't have hooks. My instructor played and just said I don't like where you took Sa and changed it to D. Now is sings nicely. Who am I to say otherwise?

Pb

AJ
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 17, 2003 05:02 p.m.


Yeah, well I DO have hooks (lines, and sinkers, as well), so think I'll check this out...........sometime......makes sense

AJ

Billy
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 20, 2003 08:13 p.m.


Hi all,

I'm back home after spending a few days in Michigan...did anyone miss me?? No noticed!!!

Well, anyway, I was watching the RS Portrait DVD, and got to thinking when he was leading a practice session with his students, including a couple of sitars, a sarod, a hawaiian steel, tabla, etc. I got to thinking; yes, if one was solo lead, tuning to the tonic of the instrument makes sense, but what about when you have such a diverse group of instruments? By the way, it looked like there were more than one chromatic tuner sitting on the floor amongst them. Perhaps they all chose an A=440 C#, or something similar?


Namaste',
Billy Enigmar Godfrey
Billy
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 20, 2003 08:35 p.m.



Russ (Sep 17, 2003 11:32 a.m.):
OK, I've finally registered myself on here, but I notice sometimes the login doesn't work. No data received by David's server...

Alright, welcome to the "club" (says the new-guy to the old-timer...)

I've noticed on rare occasions the login doesn't work, but never could figure out why. This isn't the greatest software in the world, but its usable, and pretty much requires no maintenance from Dave.

You just got to be patient with it sometimes. In the long run, I think its better to be registered than not registered!


Namaste',
Billy Enigmar Godfrey
Jeff
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 21, 2003 01:02 p.m.


I missed you Billy.

Now, who are you again?


Jeffrey R King
Billy
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 22, 2003 03:35 p.m.



Jeff (Sep 21, 2003 01:02 p.m.):
I missed you Billy.

Now, who are you again?



You know me, Billy the Kidder!

Seriously though, (don't take the world serious---The Mets!) (get it??)

Anyway, speaking of traveling, it occurred to me, that even as a totally new useless guy, my few days away in Michigan I really missed having my sitar. But I'm sorry, I'm not going to lug that thing around, no matter if it cost me a little or a lot, unless I was going to be somewhere for a very long time.

Someone once mentioned a travel sitar, but I haven't been able to find the post. However, unless it had a more or less standard sized neck, I probably wouldn't be interested anyway.

Here's an idea; I have a ca-ca-tar. What would happen if I cut the toomba off it, and the face except for the part that would be a continuation of the neck, reenforce that part of the face (perhaps with a hollow piece similar to the neck itself), essentually leaving me with a four foot playable sitar neck. It certainly wouldn't have much resonance, I doubt it would sound good at all. I could keep the screw in upper toomba, which might help. I would have to figure out some sort of attachable hoop or something that would simulate the toomba to rest on my foot, so I can hold it more or less correctly. But mainly, with all the down sides, it would still give me something to pick at when travelling. A 4'x8"x8" box would be something I could easily carry on aircraft, though I'm not sure what security would feel about it. As far as that goes, it would be much less fragile, and could probably be packed sufficiently to check in as luggage.

Sooooo, what do you luthiers in the bunch think??


Namaste',
Billy Godfrey
Sitars Etc. Fan Club, Beginners Division
K.K.
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 22, 2003 04:45 p.m.


Hi Billy: I think this is a great idea. I was thinking of doing this very thing including fabricating some kind of "tumba frame" as a foot rest. Yamaha makes a "Silent Guitar" (model SLG100S) that uses this very concept. It has a composite body that breaks down for transport. I think the lack of volume in this case would actually be a plus. Let's say you wanted to practice in a hotel room. You wouldn't have to worry about Security calling you, "We've had a complaint about a cat yeowling..."
Hmm...maybe after I perform the test on my Mangla...
Jan
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 22, 2003 05:11 p.m.


The Rikhi Ram travel sitar.

I guess im working for RR now lol...

http://www.rikhiram.com/nwsitar.html

Copy the distorted sitar picture on top of the page of theis link.
Save it on your HD or just paste it in to any app that can show images (.jpg)

That is the travel sitar, the main string pegs are banjo machine heads. Look at the small size of the tabli! No pumpkin ,just wood. About as long and deep as a female tambura. Sounds like a sitar... Comes in a fiberglass case.

I got it demonstrated in the RR shop in feb.

Price? dont remember : (

Jan

Jeff
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 22, 2003 06:28 p.m.


First KK and now Billy is going to destroy a sitar. Whats the world coming to?
Anyway, Billy have you thought abot a Delruba or a Israj? I'm not sure how to spell their names.
They sort of look like smaller size sitars but you play them with a bow.
I saw one up close once but didnt ask to play it so I dont really know anything abou them.
I think you can see some photos of them on the Buckinghm site.
A Sarode is a little smaller than a sitar too but its quite different.
Jeffrey R King
Billy
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 22, 2003 06:44 p.m.



K.K. (Sep 22, 2003 04:45 p.m.):
Hi Billy: I think this is a great idea. I was thinking of doing this very thing including fabricating some kind of "tumba frame" as a foot rest. Yamaha makes a "Silent Guitar" (model SLG100S) that uses this very concept.

Yeah, that's the concept! In fact, I think I've seen one of these before over at Guitar Center or MARS (when there was a MARS,) though I didn't really note what it was for, just a weird looking axe.

The "foot rest" may be the hardest part to get right, in a manner that you can still hold the neck up properly. I'm going to have to study on that a little. Let me know if you figure something out! Right now, I've got another interesting project I'm trying to engineer; there's always too many things in my "in-box".


Namaste',
Billy Godfrey
Sitars Etc. Fan Club, Beginners Division
Billy
Re:How do you determine the tonic? Sep 22, 2003 06:50 p.m.


Jan,

I thought it might have been you that was talking about the "travel sitar". Maybe something to think about. Why the heck did they post the photo so crunched up!?!?!

Jeff,

I think I know the instruments you're talking about. The only thing is, I insist that the neck and frets are about the same size as what I'm used to. Maybe if I were further along, I could adapt better, but for now, I'm sticking to my guns. Still, its not a bad idea.....


Namaste',
Billy Godfrey
Sitars Etc. Fan Club, Beginners Division
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