INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: How did you first discover Sitar??


Author Message
How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 03, 2002 02:53 p.m.

Well, the boards been a little slow so I thought I'd start a thread about how everyone got into playing sitar?? Here's my experience:
First heard one in Kindergarten, had a player come to our school which I remember quite well and always stayed in my mind. After high school I got a trip to Europe with the US Collegiate Wind bands playing baritone horn, and would wander the streets in my spare time. In Bern, Switzerland I came upon a young European street musician playing a Naskar sitar and spend hours hanging out with him and I was hooked!! After the tour I went to live with relatives in Denmark where I immediately began looking for a sitar but all there was there was an overpriced cheap model, and I was just a poor young hippie......then saw Nikhil Banerjee play in Copenhagen and that sealed it!
After returning to the US, I ended up moving to northern California where I eventually discovered a place to buy a decent Radha Krishna Sitar (they were good back then!) And so began the journey..........would be interesting to hear how all you guys/gals got into Indian music.
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 03, 2002 04:26 p.m.

hi guys
how did i discover sitar:
it seems that since i heard about india and saw pepole like ravi shankar that plays on this instrumental i was attrected to it
the sitar sound got into my soul from very young age and since i started to practice meditation
when i traveld to india i was able to see in my own eyes sitars and i started to learn
first in risikehash and than in varanci
i bought sitar and i cant stop playing it
these days i have got teack wood sitar that has great sound
when i play the sitar i fly and go into meditation state
anyway sitar is in my blood even that iam not master
all the best
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 03, 2002 05:03 p.m.

Wow, that's totally different from my side. My main instrument is the Chapman Stick and my main style is ambient. One of the guys I really like is Michael Brook. I installed a Sustainunit on my Stick for infinite sustain. When you do this you immediatly start playing long sustaining oriental lines. The thing is I wanted to get a more solid basis on (especially) Indian music. I took some workshops from Ashok Pathak, but never had the courage to ask him for real lessons (since I didn't play a sitar). Than I discovered a website from RIPA in Amsterdam, where Darshan Kumari teaches. I went there for a intro lesson and just bought a sitar she had for her students. So for me it's a long way that took me to the sitar. Funny thing is : it's very hard to find a Stickteacher, so I had to learn it myself. The sitar is the first instrument where the teacher has me practise scales etc. After 7 lessons I realise that also my Stickplaying is improving!!
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 03, 2002 05:36 p.m.

I first heard withinyou & without you in 1968 I was &yrs old,I wanted to play After that song was over.So I ask my father to buy me one ,he said maybe when your a little older. so for the next 22 yrs ,all I was albe to do is listen to albums & imitate the sounds of sitar & tablas with my voice. then in 1991, I was able to get a sitar in the mail & had a music store tune it up for me, then thru a chance meeting I was able to meet a Guy Tony Karasek in carlsbad calif, who also worked on Ravi Shankars sitars. He sit the jawari on my sitar & now the rest playing heaven. I was able to meet Ravi ,Thru Tony.even though I haven't been able to sit with the master, just talking to him was great. Now that I've typed my autobio for you all ..........Peace
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 04, 2002 03:25 p.m.

Hard to do without putting everybody to sleep, but here's my compact version.

In the summer of 1967, I heard Love To You on the Beatles Revolver album with George on sitar. I was 13 then, and staying with friends for the summer in San Francisco. What a place to be and a time to be there! I was curious what the instrument was, and my older friend told me it was sitar, and if I really wanted to hear "the real stuff", go down to Strawberry Center (an old mall, still there) and ask for something by somebody named Ravi Shankar. I did find one record (still have it)and after playing it on the record player (remember them?), I was hooked. Somehow just opened something up in me. Very strange!

It would be 3 years later in Fort Worth Texas I found my first sitar hanging on a wall in a Pier One store. Bought the thing for $100 and I still have it and it still sounds pretty good since I keep the jawari up. Looks like an old Hiren Roy copy. I tuned it then by listening to Ravi albums, not knowing what I was doing. Turned out I was off by only one note. What luck! Learned to play in the early days just by imitating what I heard on records. Played an amateur talent contest at my university in 1971 when I was 17 and came in 3rd.

Stayed with it and now over the 32 years, I bought 3 more sitars, the latest just last December. Never had a teacher, but I have used books and videos, but still rely on my ears and of course, practice, practice, practice! Would still love to have a teacher.

Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 04, 2002 06:47 p.m.

I'll risk the boring label as well. Me, I heard Norwegian Wood and was struck dumb, having been a guitar player since I was 12 and hearing Norwegian wood when I was 18 just put me over the edge. Next was Love you to and when Sgt Pepper came out I just had gotten out of the Marine Corps and was well into the Hippie movement in Ann Arbor Mich and Within you without you just hit like a ton of bricks. Heavy on the mysticism and just totally smooth on the music side. Big message, loved it. Never got a Sitar, kept spending money on expensive guitars.
Years later decided to get into my roots (Irish) and started playing bagpipes, see the drones got me on a subliminal level. Played them pretty heavy for 17years, learned how to read music pretty fluently for that instrument, real joy reading music.
Meanwhile we've been listening to Ravi Shankar for years, especially for relaxing evenings, times when you just can't seem to get to sleep, or if you want to relax with yoga. . .
I just decided it was time to just enjoy an instrument merely for the inner self. Nabbed a Mangala Tun from PeterC, and a set of Tabla for Deb. The idea was initially to lose ourselves in the music and enter the contemplative state that this form of music induces. We're really enjoying the adventure. Nice idea Russ, might be nice too if everyone could add where they Gastonia, North Carolina USA.....
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 04, 2002 07:51 p.m.

Ohhhh, Enumclaw, WA.....50 minutes from The Emerald City (Seattle).
Cool stories, definetely....and yea Russ, I remember the record player......that's where your CD of 2 Raga moods came from!
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 05, 2002 01:24 a.m.

I got my first sitar when I was 20, about 1982. Bought it from a girl in Brighton, England where I was living at the time. Although I always loved the Beatles, IIRC it was listening to the Increible String Band (remember them?!) that made me decide to get one.
I ruined that first one when I decided that the jawari wasn't buzzy enough and asked a local guitar maker/repairer if he thought he could do something with it. Needless to say he said he was sure he could, and proceeded to destroy the bridge totally. My fault of course. I should have known better. Anyway that made the sitar to all intents and purposes unplayable so I drifted away from it for many years. Never lost the bug though, and listened to more Indian classical music. Nearly 20 years later it seemed like I needed to get back into it - you know that feeling? Surfed the net and found Peter (and Lars). 'Nuff said...
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 05, 2002 10:29 a.m.

Jerry, I doubt many people here have ever heard Incredible String Band, but I could be wrong. Never was popular in the US. I used to have "Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" on a reel-to-reel back in the sixties. It got ripped-off by a guy 20 years ago when I was in the US Air Force. Last song on that album is really nice with a laid-back smooth sitar in the background. Can't remember the name....
OK Lars, I know you have a record player. But try going down to the local stereo equipment store and ask for a record player these days. They'll wonder what planet you're from! And try looking for LPs at most stores. Plenty of CDs or cassettes, but that's it. Maybe in the little room in the back, eh old timer?
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 05, 2002 06:32 p.m.

Ive heard of them. I dont listen to them to often. A little out of tune sometimes.
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 05, 2002 07:33 p.m.

Hey Russ, for that matter try going to any store nowadays and finding someone who know something about any product they sell!!! Heh heh, used to work at a video store long ago and outsold everyone just because I took the time to learn about the product.......
Still like CD's better than LP though, although a good B&O turntable is hard to beat.........
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 06, 2002 10:06 a.m.

I agree on B&O. The Swedes have had the edge on audio for as long as I can remember. Yup, on any product, if you don't care enough to do a little research to know what you're buying, then don't cry when it goes belly up!
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 06, 2002 07:05 p.m.

Really only a few years back I heard an old Ravi Shankar LP (I do miss the warmth of vinyl) being played in a used record store. I knew very little, okay nothing - about the sitar or indian music, but the rag was strangely spiritual, relaxing and hypnotic. That was it. Neal

PS My Mangla arrives next week!!!
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 06, 2002 07:52 p.m.

Swedes, Russ??? AAaaaaggghhhhh........No DANES!!!
Glad to hear you'll be in Manglaville in a week Neal!!!
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 07, 2002 10:07 a.m.

Oooooops! Thanks for setting me straight Lars. But at least I was in the right neighborhood. Neal, which one did you decide on?
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 07, 2002 05:19 p.m.

I decided on the teak for several reasons...In all my internet surfing I have found only one maker that produces teak sitars (Mangla). They are rare. So my thoughts were let me get this now, because anytime in the future I can pick up a tun sitar, Mangla or other. Neal
Re:How did you first discover Sitar?? Feb 07, 2002 06:23 p.m.

Sounds like a good reason. From what I see, Mangla (actually Buckingham music) is the only one that advertises teaks, but all the big names make a teak model as well. You would just have to specify it, but they would be more expensive than Manglas. I've seen a teak Hemen coming in around $2500. But the teak Mangla is a good choice. Let us know how you like it after you've played it for awhile. So, welcome to the Mangla culture club!
[Previous] [Up] [Next]