INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Play 2nd string on each stroke?


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Play 2nd string on each stroke? Aug 04, 2002 02:38 p.m.

Greetings all:

I was very please to find this site, as it appears to be unique to the web for such topics of discussion.
I have been playing sitar for a little while now, under "self"-instruction from various books, recordings, and online resources. One thing that I see frequently is the instruction to stroke the 2nd string with each stroke of the mizrab as well as the main string. Obviously, this is something that can improve with practice...... but really? Listening to recordings, I do not hear this string being played on each stroke, unless it is really that quiet and controlled. Any insight? And then I see another method of sitar stringing, which I believe was that of Vilayat Khan, and he excludes the 2nd string altogether?
I know mostly only Ravi Shankar's playing, and the speed at which he plays and the cleanliness of the strokes do not combine to the sound of stroking the 2nd string on each stroke. I have heard, though, that he in particular is recognized for his control of this string, which only further confuses me.
I would most gratefully appreciate your insight through your experiences or instruction.


Mike Nikolidakis

Re:Play 2nd string on each stroke? Aug 04, 2002 03:16 p.m.

Hi Mike. Well, here's my take on it.
In the end, I think it really comes down to style, of yourself and your guru or teacher. Some players include the second string as a drone, and some don't. Vilayat Khan usually includes it, but Ravi usually doesn't. Both Vilayat and Ravi exclude one string. Vilayat dumps the 4th deep string as he doesn't use it. Ravi dumps the 5th string in order to bring out that deep 4th. So, another style difference. In my playing, I always include the second string, but only in the gat. You won't hear it when I play alap. But that's probably just the way I play.
Re:Play 2nd string on each stroke? Aug 05, 2002 09:05 a.m.

I too am having the same experiences with my second string. I am close to having my javari reshaped and would be very pleased to find that javari shape is what controls what I find undesirable in the sound of my second string. But with only 1 � years of experience, I suppose that the real problem is my technique. I imagine that a real instructor would quickly identify my plectrum style as the culprit as I frequently will catch a bit of the 2nd string on my down strokes. I haven�t discovered a way around this other than to gag my second string with the hooks on my high fret. I would like to have the control to leave all strings un-gagged and practice this way most of the time just in case it is a control thing that will come with experience. But my 2nd string still sounds a bit �tinny� compared to the rest and a lot more �buzzy� than the rest. So I am curious as to what others will have to say on this topic as it is the thing that needs the most correction in my current sound.
Re:Play 2nd string on each stroke? Aug 05, 2002 10:52 a.m.

Hey Stephen;
I remember that the Hiren Roy that I "test drove" a few years back had a large gap between the first and second strings, cut into the bridge. I think your Mangla should have two bridge cuts for the first string, so perhaps you could move your 1st string to the outer groove? That should stop the second string from sounding. But yes, I think by stretching your rt hand further out over the strings, your playing technique will change, and you'll have more direct control over the first string and easily mute the 2nd string.
Play with a more "down" stroke instead of a sideways stroke. Also, you might want to experiment by trying a bronze vs brass 2nd string to hear the difference. One is more "buzzy" than the other so they say......
Re:Play 2nd string on each stroke? Aug 05, 2002 11:38 a.m.

Hey Russ, those items you addressed might help. I've been trying to play my baj with more of an up/down stroke but still have not mastered the up/down and then the flattening out motion for a drone stroke. Practice, practice, practice. I am already using the outter most string notch (would I be way outta line cutting yet another notch?). I'm going to have to give the bronze string a try as that might render a more warm sound similar to the 4th. That would be what I'm seeking. Will a switch between bronze and brass be affected once I have the javari redone? In other words will the javari shape work with either string or should I be commited to one or the other before having the bridge reshaped?
Re:Play 2nd string on each stroke? Aug 05, 2002 02:52 p.m.

No, you wouldn't be out of line with another notch. I've seen 3 cuts before....
Are you talking about redoing the javari on your Mangla? I thought that should last for at least a few years, or is this just an experiment? Anyway, no you don't have to commit to bronze or brass; you can switch. There's no dependence that I can tell.
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