INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: No chords on Sitar


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No chords on Sitar Jul 07, 2002 09:10 a.m.

What purpose does playing chords on guitar serve? i.e harmony / melody? What is the equivalent that we do on sitar? I read about this somewhere and am confused as to the relationship between all.
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 07, 2002 04:17 p.m.

Chords are the simultaneous harmonization of notes of a scale ie 1 3 5 is a major chord. 1 b3 5 is a minor chord. The indian notations of those are S G P - major, S G, P - minor I dont know how to symbolize a flat Ga on the computer. Chords on the guitar are used to acompany the music usually. But western music has a key and the tonal center changes as the chords change, indian classical is unlike this, the tonal center stays the same through the whole music piece. So since indian ragas are desighned purely with melody in mind, when you harmonize some of them to make chords You get really bad sounds.
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 07, 2002 04:21 p.m.

something you could do is harmonize intervals on your top C and F strings. I think they are C and F forgive me if im way off. But with those two strings you can play minor thirds, major thirds, fifths, 6ths, and all the intervals that harmonize in the scale of the raga you are playing. I have not heard many sitarists do this I don't think, I have done it on my friends sitar, but I am not sure if its welcome in clasical music.
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 07, 2002 04:24 p.m.

Another function of chords is rhythm keeping which is called Comping in jazz. Something similar on the sitar would be the chikaris, and the fast rythmic plucking of them near the end or middle of the raga i forgot what it was called.
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 18, 2002 12:40 p.m.

Nikhil Banerjee uses chords or double stopping on the second string, can be great when playing jhalla
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 18, 2002 05:01 p.m.

Went out to see Pandit Ashok Patak a couple of weeks ago and he played a lot of chords (or actually double stops) on one raga. He combines it a lot with neckbending with great effectivity.



Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 18, 2002 06:11 p.m.

From what I've heard, a number of younger generation sitarists play chords now and then primarily using simple thirds and sometimes fifths. Sounds fine as long as you don't over do it. Hey, what is a double stop?
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 19, 2002 02:18 a.m.

Hi Russ
I'm still enjoying the music over here. Getting more into the ManiLal now too.
A double stop is a technique used by players of (usually bowed) string instruments, involving the player holding down left hand notes with more than one finger and playing all of these 'stopped' strings together like a chord. Often the spacing involved can prevent the player playing them as a simultaneous chord and the player has to spread the chord as the bow sweeps across the strings from bottom to top. A great example is the soloists opening chord in Elgar's Cello Concerto.
I can see sitar borrowing this technique from western musicians. The player would play a two-note chord by double-stopping, using left-hand fingers to hold down notes on the main melody string and second string simultaneously. I imagine the purists would wince though.
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 19, 2002 10:11 a.m.

Hey Jerry;
Glad you like it. I'm getting into Debu's style on Desh. Has a mellow feel to it. Well, if I understand it, a double stop is the same thing as playing a two-note chord right? I do that one myself, second finger on first string sa, first finger on second string dha. A simple third, but sounds pretty. Just the reverse fingering from first and second string thirds on guitar. Played at about the same intervals too. A little more difficult because of the fret spacings on sitar though.
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 19, 2002 11:28 a.m.

Hey Russ
Talking of Debu, what about those Tarbs? Have you noticed how incredibly resonant his are? He must have his own maker or something to get that sound out of them. The other thing I noticed about his playing is his chikari usage. More restrained and for ambient drone more than rhythm, you know?
And you're right, mellow is the word for him. As I've said here before, I wouldn't want for him to be the only player I could ever hear again, but sometimes that sound is just what you want.
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 19, 2002 12:56 p.m.

Yes I did notice the high level of tarab response. From what I hear, I believe Debu has a closed jawari. Very good tarab response and long sustains are characteristics of closed jawaris. My oldest sitar (33 years and counting) is closed, and sounds similar. Debu's sitar is an old Hiren Roy, and is maintained by ol' Mangla himself. So, there you are! Yeah, Desh is a very meditative rag, and Debu captures the mood very well. That's probably one reason why he doesn't work the chikaris that much....might spoil the atmosphere.
Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 19, 2002 01:36 p.m.

A chords is actually made up from three notes, most sitarists (actually all of them) only use two notes....

What is the title of the mentioned raga desh? and the label...sounds interesting. At the moment i'm totally hooked on Shahid Parvez (thanks to Barend). What a stunning player!!!



Re:No chords on Sitar Jul 19, 2002 02:27 p.m.

I stand corrected. A chord is 3 or more notes. Hmmm...I wouldn't want to try that on a sitar. Rag Desh is the title. There are variations such as Desh Malhar as I've heard by Ali Akbar Khan. But structure is very similar. A nice end-of-the-day raga.
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