Bits and Bobs (downloads)

Sorry for not posting for a while, I've been a bit busy with organising a house move and some other stuff that seems to be unbelievably time consuming.

I recently came across a few blogs that I would like to mention. They both feature rare recordings which are pretty hard to find anywhere else.

The first one is Oriental-Traditional-Music. There are some real gems available on this site from all across the Middle East and Asia. However, the posts that I found the most interesting are the following:
This guy is a really innovative player, definitely recommended.
The Bhairavi on this recording is mind blowing.
I've mentioned this a few times in my last posts. This is one of the best recordings of
sitar that I've ever heard, not in terms of quality but the playing is amazing. Check out
the raga kirwani.
More from Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan. A lovely raga Multani. 

The other blog I would like to mention is La Logique Interne. I don't speak French at all but most of the text makes sense through google translate.
More from Mohammed Sharif Khan Poonchwala.
Over a gigabyte of Nikhil Banerjee recordings. They vary in quality but are all
amazing in terms of playing. Definitely worth the downloads. 

Lastly, here's a video of a song that I can't stop listening to. It is probably my favourite thing that Ravi Shankar has done (apart from Passages with Philip Glass).

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Sore Fingers

Not mine, Ravi Shankar's
impressive grooves

Just a short post today. I've been practising a lot over the last couple of days and now my fingertips are feeling a tender. I had been neglecting my practice routine a little bit previously but the grooves in my fingertips are coming back nicely.

I'm still playing in Bhimpalasi, I just love the sound of it. It's funny how different your playing can be by switching ragas. For some reason this one feels a bit more natural to me than Yaman and I'm finding it a lot easier to explore. That komal Ga is just lovely.

I've been working on meends a lot and I'm making some progress with them. They're becoming more accurate and I'm starting to play with making them more expressive rather than just sliding from one note to another. This is going to take a lot more practice but the meends are already sounding better with a little vibrato here and there. I'm practising little runs up the neck and ending with a meend up to a higher note, and although it's proving difficult (more difficult than just doing a normal meend), I am getting there. It's very satisfying to see progress!

I'm also finding the meends easier in Bhimpalasi for some reason, I know they they shouldn't really. I still have the muscle memory of going Dha, Pa, tivra Ma from Yaman and it's a tough habit to break, I need to practice going down to the natural Ma, I'm sure I'll get it eventually.

I'm also love modulating the komal Dha, it just sounds so good, either in a meend or just a plain fretted note.

As I previously wrote, discovering Nikhil Banerjee's version of Bhimpalasi was the sole reason for me wanting to learn this raga but now I have discovered a recording of Sindhi Bhairavi that has simply blown me away. I was never a huge fan of NK until very recently but these two recordings are making him one of my favourite players.

I think I have a slightly different version but it's still amazing.

Raag Sindhi Bhairavi -by Pandit Nikhil Banerjee from Syed Wajid on Vimeo.
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Tips For Sitar (images)

Just a quick post today. I'm posting images that may be useful if you're learning.

Vilayat Khan style tuning

String gauges

Ravi Shankar style tuning

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Finger Oil For Sitarists

Most sitarists have a little secret that is not immediately obvious if you are new to the instrument. You might see players take their hand away from the neck of the sitar and do something quickly near their feet.

The secret is that they are dabbing their index and/or middle finger in the a little pot like this one. These usually contain cotton wool which has some kind of oil soaked in to it.

Why do we do this? 

Well, strings can become sticky and friction can build up between the string and your finger (which should have callouses), making it difficult to slide up and down the string at speed. So, we use some light mineral oil, just a touch, to make the glide up the string fast and smooth.

What kind of oils to use?

This is purely up to you. A popular choice is coconut oil. It smells lovely and stays smooth after a while of practising. It also has a slight drying effect on the skin so your callouses stay hard. The downside to coconut oil is that it can become a bit gummy and sometimes even go hard if you don't wipe it off after you play. It can also make the lines in your fingers go black, I'm not sure why, perhaps it is reacting with the metal from the frets and string.

Some people like Baby Oil but I don't recommend this. While is it a nice oil (smells good, is easily available and to start with it is smooth to slide with), it tends to become sticky after a while of playing and can actually have the opposite effect from what you wanted in the first place, making your finger stick to the stick and even increasing the friction.

There are loads of oils to try. I've heard mustard oil works well, as does light olive oil. As long as it is a light mineral oil it should work well.

Just don't forget to wipe your strings down after you play to prevent build up of gunk!

For the video today I'm posting Shivkumar Sharma. He is a massive name in Indian music and plays the santoor. He is playing with another legend, Zakir Hussain. Zakir is one of the greatest tabla players in the world. They are playing the beautiful raga Kirwani.

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100 Followers and Shahid Parvez

I've just hit the one hundred followers mark so thank you to everyone who is following the blog and commenting on the posts. 

Just a short post to say thanks today so here is one of my favourite player, Shahid Parvez. This is an excellent video with all the close ups. 

Sitar - Ustad Shahid Parvez from Sayeed Mohiuddin on Vimeo.

I haven't mentioned much about Shahid Parvez but he really is a legendary player. He comes from a family of classical Indian musicians spanning seven generations. His relatives include Imdad Khan, Wahid Khan, Wahid Khan, Vilayat Khan and Shujaat Khan. Quite impressive!

He was a child genius and was performing concerts in public by the time he was eight years old. Being one of the true masters of the instrument, Shahid prime example of what hard work and lots and lots of practice can do (and being part of one of the most famous families in Indian classical music).

Go over to his website and read some of his articles, he has some strong and traditional opinions about Indian music and how it should be performed -

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More Videos

In a recent comment someone requested that I post more music so here are a couple of videos.

This first one is quite a long one but beautiful. It is raga Bageshri by Sharif Khan Poonchwaley.

Raag Bageshree (Sitar) -by Ustad Sharif Khan Poonchwaley from Syed Wajid on Vimeo.

I also had a comment asking about whether there are many female sitarists. While there are certainly more men, there are female players. There tends to be more female singers.

This is Subshri Janardan playing raga Khamaj, one of my favourite ragas.

Subshri Janardan -sitar, Kirill Parenchuk -tabla - Dhun in Rag Khamaj (2009) from on Vimeo.

Lastly, this is a blistering version of raga Sindhi Bhairavi by one of the greatest players ever, Nikhil Banerjee.

Raag Sindhi Bhairavi -by Pandit Nikhil Banerjee from Syed Wajid on Vimeo.

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