Update: April 2022
After many years and thousands of visits from across the globe, this page will now host:
- Information about Raagas (See below)
- Information about instruments (primarily the sarod)
- Translations/transcriptions of important articles/books/videos to English
- Posts about famous musicians whose music I have enjoyed and learnt from
I call it the Ekalavya Project because like the mythological character Ekalavya, who was largely self taught, as I feel that modern times have turned many of us sitting around the world into Ekalavyas. We are passionate about the music and the instrument, but unable to get the right information and the right guidance. A lot of information about the sarod is kept hidden, and is not public. The objective of this page is to publish as much information on the sarod as possible.
If you are after the free Raga Guide that I’m compiling, please click here:
(work in progress)
SAROD 101: Getting Started with learning the Sarod
This is a simple, plain, no-nonsense introduction to learning the sarod (or sarode, if you so prefer) – aimed at someone who has basic questions.
Firstly, you need to find a teacher. Why? Because the sarod is not a beginner’s instrument – there is no “Sarod for Dummies” book and for good reason. Most Indian classical instruments do not lend themselves well to Dummies. (and hence such books). In the initial stages of the sarod learning, it’s best to learn from a teacher who actually plays the instrument. You can learn from any competent teacher (sitar, vocalist etc) later, but in the beginning you need someone who can show you how to tune the instrument, mount wires, hold the java (plectrum) etc.
Secondly, as far as teachers go, let us be clear : the old guru shishya parampara is practically dead – usually the gurus only have time for their kids, and not for you. (so there go the free lessons – gone are the days where gurus would have shishyas living with them, performing household chores and learning at the same time). I studied sarod and vocal music for free, however, I suspect those days are long gone (I was possibly among the last batch of such freeloaders).
Then you need to find an instrument. It’s best if you let the teacher get you one. That’s because unless you know what you’re looking for, you won’t know how to pick the sarod. One basic decision needs to be made: do you want to learn the Ustad Amjad Ali Khan style, the Maihar style (Ud Ali Akbar Khan) or the Senia Shahjahanpur style (Pt Radhika Mohan Moitra). Usually, you’ll pick your teacher based on this preference.
Don’t get drawn into Hemen vs Kanailal vs others – when you’re starting out, it doesn’t really matter.
Also, if you play the guitar, it’ll really help playing the sarod (especially Amjad Ali Khan style). The key change will be that you’ll now need to hit the strings hard with a much thicker (and sometimes larger) plectrum.
So, now you’ve lined up a teacher (in person or over the internet), got yourself an instrument, you are on your way. I’ll keep posting more info, however, remember the two golden rules of sarod playing:
1. Practice scales day in day out. This is boring, but it is the foundation of all sarod playing.
2. Always practice with the tabla (I’m assuming you have an electronic one). This is vital. This will get the taal into your subconscious, so you won’t have to stop and count “matras” on simple taals like Teental
Best wishes to us all Ekalavyas !
I’ve now setup a page where all my posts are aggregated into Ragas –