I had posted the below, and gotten the reply, in another topic on changing tarbs. Sorry about that, it should be a new topic, so I've copied these messages to here:
Also Jeff, I was thinking about your Raagini tanpura machine, and it got me thinking about a software solution. Has anyone used Swarshala software to build accompament? I searched and found a lot of messages on these boards posted by someone I assume is one of the authors of the software, but I was looking for some real reviews by a player not connected with the company. The software is a bit pricey to me, though compared to an electric tanpura and/or tabla, is probably a good deal. But with the electric units, I assume the various rags are built in, while with Swarshala, you have to build them yourself. Is this correct?
If everyone hasn't noticed by now, I'm a computer "nerd", and find that the software solutions give more flexibility, and if I had a choice between equal hardware vs software solutions, I will usually go for the software, if I can afford it. At this point, I'm not really needing either solution, but if I can afford it I want to get Swarshala sometime in the future not only as a possible way to build accompament for sitar, but as a way to dig in to learn ragas.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Namaste', Billy Enigmar Godfrey Date: Jul 11, 2003 on 09:44 a.m.
Danimal 3. Re:Swar Shala (was Changing Tarbs)
This should be a new topic, but since you asked, I do use the SwarShala software instead of an electric Tanpura/Tabla. I purchased the oftware back in 1998 (it was called TaalWizard back then) and it was cheaper than it is now...but the new version packs a lot more features, so the price hike is probably Heres what I do: I set a "loop" at a given theka, tuned to my sitar's Sa (C#) and/or play a loop of a tanpura tuned to my Sa as well. I export the combined wav file, make a bunch of duplicate files and burn one HUGE wave file (10-20 minutes) onto a CD-R. I can then play the CD while I practice.
Pros: 1. For me, low price (I purchased the software awhile back, and it's certainly less than a $250 Tabla Machine and a $250 Tanpura Machine)
2. Very authentic sound (it's a sample) and a HUGE range of thekas, fills, etc.... that give a variety the machines don't have
3. The people at SwarShala are really nice and get back to my emails quickly
1. You have to spend some PC time making the loops, tuning the software, etc..... This takes away from practice time, but once it's done (theoretically), it's done.
2. You need a bunch of CDs at different tempos, thekas, tunings, etc.......this can (eventually) lead to you having a big library of CDs (which take a lot of time to burn). Label clearly!
3. Even with the library of CDs, you still cannot "on demand" turn the tempo up or down a few beats/second to accomodate your mood at the time. Plus, if you decide to switch from Tintal to Ektal, you have to dig out another CD.
Overall: Well, it works fine for me. If I had $500, I'd get the machines, but for now, for a fraction of the $$ and a little time on my part, I have a very, very good tabla/tanpura practice setup. I've even made some "concert simulation" CDs where it starts out w/ 10 min. of Tanpura (for Alap), then the Tabla comes in at a slow tempo for 10 min. and then goes to medium and fast for the the final Jhala...it's a pretty cool way to practice for 30 minutes!
Personally, I'd rather put the $$ savings toward a new sitar, and that's exactly what Iplan to do.