A digression for the New Year : Raga Desh (Des)

I woke up on New Year’s Day 2015 with a burning desire to play Raga Des (Desh), a beautiful raga from the Khamaj group of ragas which I’ve written about before…. Of particular interest to me were compositions in fast 12 beat time cycle (Ektaal), and by fast, I mean reasonably fast, much faster than what can be usually played on the sarod (especially in …

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Sound Production on the Sarod: Some Perspectives

I recently had the opportunity to discuss sound production as a subject with senior indian classical instrumentalists. Discussion on sound production in the context of Indian Classical music has been very limited – Indian classical music discussion seems to be limited to unstructured discussions with¬†very little “shop talk” among the musical fraternity on any operational issue that they face. For an active musician, sound production …

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Playing Indian Classical Music on non traditional instruments

For some time now, I have been asked whether it’s a good idea to play Indian Classical music on western instruments. I myself used to play Indian Classical Music on the guitar, so here are my thoughts on the subject. So, the question is: should I play Indian classical music on the guitar/piano/cello/harmonica/french horn/saxophone etc? The answer is : It depends (on what you want) …

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Raga Bageshri – Part 1

Of late, I’ve been studying and playing Raga Bageshri (variously called Bagesri, Bageshree, or Bageshri Kanada).¬† Bageshri is a grand raga, attributed to Thaat Kafi and is a staple of evening concerts. The time prescribed for this raga is evening to late night. I learnt Bageshri when I was 7 years old from my first music teacher Smt Ruby Bose (wonder where she is these …

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Raga Durga

At long last I managed to start up a Youtube channel (it’s got only one video in it so far) but I thought I’d begin with the Raga which started my sarod journey – Raga Durga. Along with Yaman, it remains a favourite of Ud Amjad Ali Khan to start off new students with. I must acknowledge that it was Shri Abhik Sarkar (a senior …

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What they don’t tell you in most overseas sarod schools: The agony and ecstasy of “Palta Practice”

Swept up by the magnificent sound of the instrument, inspired by maestros like Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and feeling elevated by thinking about the deep and rich history of the sarod, we finally get an instrument, a guru and begin to take our first steps. The first few days are spent in agony. The instrument sounds like someone’s scraping their nails against a blackboard and …

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Sarod Finger Nails: A primer

Firstly, you may have heard about the theory of some sarod players using their tip of their fingers to play. Well, from my limited survey of sarod players from all the two other major gharanas (Maihar, Shahjahanpur), such alleged sarod players are no longer in existence. Listening to some old sarodiyas from such gharanas, their muffled sound makes me wonder what they are using to …

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