Now Reading
Psychedelic Electrical Sitar Undertaking –

Psychedelic Electrical Sitar Undertaking –

2023-05-08 03:02:53

by David Courtney working tools

Content material

March 2, 2023 – It Begins Right here

I’m beginning a undertaking on electrifying a sitar. This isn’t in itself exceptional, aside from one factor. Presently, the people who find themselves energetic on the web don’t electrify sitars. Conversely, the individuals who electrify sitars don’t talk about the method on the web.

I intend to rectify this case.

Why do I wish to electrify my sitar? That is a straightforward query to reply. My sitar has a damaged tabali (face-plate), that was at a while clumsily glued collectively. It is a drawback; certainly, this can be a BIG drawback. For a sitar to sound good, the requirement is that wooden for the tabali be heavy and free from any flaw. Any discontinuity signifies that the sitar won’t ever sound good. Due to this fact, in need of fabricating a brand new faceplate, (which is often impractical) a damaged faceplate usually signifies that the instrument is diminished to little greater than firewood.

However why ought to this be the case? If the instrument is acoustically compromised, then one can take away, or at the least downgrade, the significance of its acoustics. The electrification of the sitar basically does simply this.

Will an electrical sitar sound the identical as a totally acoustic one? The reply to this can be a particular “NO!” Is that this a nasty factor? Nicely that isn’t a straightforward query to reply. There are numerous conditions the place we’d discover the sound of the electrical sitar extra fascinating. Simply as it is extremely regular for guitarists to have each electrical in addition to acoustic guitars; similarly, it’s good for sitarists to have each electrical in addition to acoustic sitars. I presently personal one surbahar, two acoustic sitars, and one electrical sitar.

Over the following few months, I might be documenting the method of restoring and changing an acoustic instrument to develop into my second electrical sitar.

March 3, 2023 – The Talash (Pt. 1)

The phrase “talash” is a really highly effective phrase. It actually means a “quest”. What does this need to do with the restoration of a sitar? Learn on, and it’ll all fall into place.

The restoration undertaking’s story started on the night of Wednesday March 1, 2023. An excellent good friend of mine, Srinivas Koumounduri, despatched me a hyperlink. Usually I don’t open hyperlinks which can be despatched to me as a result of that is typically a method by which malware travels. Nonetheless, on this case I clicked on it.

This hyperlink took me to FB Market. FB Market is a usually nugatory piece of web actual property that’s good to keep away from. However this explicit hyperlink had an image of a sitar that was on the market for under $25.

The image from the FB Market advert

It was clear that the instrument was in horrible form. It was lacking at the least half of the frets. It solely had one mogara for the chikari. It was lacking one of many tuning pegs; and it was lacking all the taraf tuning pegs.

Wait a second – was it actually lacking all the taraf strings and pegs? No – IT NEVER HAD ANY.

I instantly grew to become excited. I had been looking for this fashion of sitar for in regards to the final eight years! It was my private talash.

Now anybody who’s accustomed to sitars will instantly suppose that I’m loopy. Sitars with out taraf strings (sympathetic strings) have been comparatively frequent on the flip of the 20th century. However they have been relegated to low high quality economic system fashions, whereas the higher devices had tarafdars (sympathetics). By the center of the 20th century, such sitars have been nonetheless solely to be present in lowest high quality pupil fashions. They seem to have disappeared from the market someday within the Seventies or Nineteen Eighties.

Now this brings up the apparent query as to why I, a proud possessor of 1 surbahar and three different nice devices, can be desirous about a broken low high quality pupil sitar from the threerd quarter of the 20th century.

For the reply to this, we’ve got to return greater than half a century to 1971. I might have been about 17 on the time. Being 17 is a really nerve-racking time in anybody’s life. However for me it was notably nerve-racking. It appeared that the one escape I might discover was in my curiosity in Indian classical music.

Sadly my alternatives to study music or get hold of any form of instrument have been basically zero. Nonetheless on one occasion I used to be in an import retailer right here in Houston, they usually had a sitar on the market. It too, was a pupil high quality instrument of this very fashion. It value about $85.

The issue was that I used to be 17 years outdated and had nearly no cash. By no means-the-less, I went into the shop nearly each week simply to have a look at it. Every time I would need that I might get it.

I by no means did get it.

The many years handed, and my monetary place improved. I acquired my first sitar once I married. It got here with my spouse (how’s that for dowry). Through the years, I ended up with a number of extraordinarily good high quality ones. However nonetheless, one thing behind my thoughts yearned for the straightforward model that so fascinated me in my youth.

About 2015, I began to look in earnest. A minimum of as soon as each six months, I might get on EBay to see if I might discover one on the market. In every case none have been to be discovered. There was a single event the place I discovered one, nevertheless it was situated in Europe.

Now, one has appeared.

The talash of the final a number of years was nearly over.

This ebook is obtainable world wide
Verify your native Amazon. More Info.

March 4, 2023 – The Talash (Pt. 2)

There was as soon as an outdated farmer. He was getting on in years, and the existential insecurities that include advancing age have been upon him. He determined that he must get some faith.

Due to this fact, in the future he approached a Catholic priest in his close by city. The farmer enquired as to what can be required for him to develop into a Catholic.

“There’s a course of, my son,” mentioned the priest, “however earlier than I’m going into it, I’ve one query for you. The place was Jesus Christ born?”

The farmer was stumped. After some time he mentioned “Nacogdoches.”

The Catholic priest was bowled over. He actually didn’t understand how to answer this ridiculous reply to such a easy query. Hesitatingly he mentioned, “Uh… uh… I’m sorry, however I actually don’t suppose that you’d make a great Catholic.”

The outdated farmer dejectedly returned house. He was stung by such a pointy rejection.

After a number of days, the outdated farmer approached the native Methodist minister with the identical question.

The Methodist minister mentioned, “Turning into a Methodist is just not tough, however earlier than we go into it, I’ve one query. The place was Jesus born?”

The outdated farmer thought for a second, then replied, “Lufkin.”

The Methodist minister immediately knew from such a clueless reply that this farmer wouldn’t be a great addition to his congregation. He due to this fact advised the farmer, “I’m sorry, however I simply really feel that you wouldn’t be a great Methodist”.

Once more the farmer dejectedly returned house.

After a number of days, he approached the preacher in certainly one of his native Evangelical church buildings with the identical question.

“Hallelujah, brother,” mentioned the preacher, “we meet each Sunday. We might be happy to have you ever”.

“You ain’t gonna quiz me or nothin’?” requested the farmer.

“No,” replied the preacher.

“Nice,” mentioned the farmer, “however there may be one factor I’ve been inquisitive about. The place was Jesus born?”

“In Bethlehem,” mentioned the Preacher.

“Bethlehem, the place the heck is that?” requested the farmer.

“It’s in Palestine,” mentioned the preacher.

“Darn it, I knew it was in East Texas someplace,” mentioned the farmer.

– – – – – –

Palestine – The previous story was the very first thing that got here to my thoughts once I learn the commercial for the sitar. The vendor was in Palestine, Texas. This could be a full day’s journey.

However there was no query in my thoughts. I used to be going to go to Palestine to purchase the sitar.

March 5, 2023 – The Talash (Pt. 3)

It was late morning Thursday, March 2nd , when Chandra and myself acquired in our automobile and headed off towards Palestine, Texas. We have been each trying ahead to this little tour. Because the COVID pandemic, we’ve got not had many alternatives to get out of Houston.

Google Maps mentioned that it might be a 3 hour journey; but expertise had taught me that when one considers numerous breaks, that it might be 4 hours.

About two hours into the journey we stopped for lunch. The primary place that we stopped had all the indications that they might have superb BBQ. However Chandra all the time exhibits hesitance about such locations. She eats hen, however she is worried that such locations are careless and cook dinner their hen on the identical grill with the identical utensils that they use for beef and pork. After 44 years of marriage, I’m used to such issues.

However this time, even I used to be hesitant to go in. The Harley Davidson bikes, pickup vans, and their tough trying house owners, made me suppose twice earlier than getting into.

I used to be hesitant to go in for issues about our security. For readers who will not be from Texas, particularly those that will not be within the US, some clarification is so as.

The US is very polarised and tensions run very excessive. These tensions develop into particularly harmful contemplating the acute prevalence of firearms.

Texas has a number of the highest prevalence of firearms on the planet

It’s factiously mentioned that an armed society is a well mannered society. However the truth that this isn’t essentially true, is instantly seen in Houston. There are such a lot of individuals who get mad at one another whereas driving. The weapons come out, and earlier than lengthy somebody is lifeless. These road-rage shootings are nearly a each day incidence in Houston.

The scenario in East Texas is much more excessive. One finds a combination of racism, xenophobia, and right-wing conspiracy mindsets, coupled with a number of the highest variety of firearms within the US. This makes it a doubtlessly harmful place. I’m a long-haired, neo-Marxist, fag-stag, city-liberal, within the firm of a woman-of-colour. What likelihood would I’ve in a bible thumping, MAGAstan like this?

We determined that we wanted to discover a safer place to eat lunch.

We did, and after lunch we continued on to Palestine.

We arrived at our location. The proprietor of the sitar was cordial; nevertheless it was clear that we lived in two completely totally different worlds. The transaction couldn’t have taken greater than 5 or ten minutes. We accomplished the transaction, and returned to Houston with the sitar.

March 6, 2023 – Stripping and Cleansing

The instrument wanted to be readied for work.

I eliminated all the strings, tuning pegs, frets, and something that might come off. Every peg was numbered in order that it might return into the identical gap from whence it got here. In an identical method, the few remaining frets have been marked as per their place on the neck and their orientation. The orientation is necessary as a result of the highest facet of the fret doesn’t have the identical curve as the underside facet. They have been all packed away rigorously.

I subsequent cleaned the whole instrument with alcohol. This removes 50 years of filth and dirt, nevertheless it additionally removes shellac.

March 7, 2023 – Mysterious Historical past

The method of stripping the instrument of varied bits-and-bobs revealed some fascinating issues. 50 years of its historical past began to unfold. One factor that was clear was this instrument was not only a show-piece that somebody had; it had been utilized by somebody who knew the sitar nicely. The tuning pegs nonetheless confirmed the presence of chalk; solely a working musician would know to try this. Moreover, the bridge was deeply grooved from years of heavy use.

The bridge is deeply grooved because of years of heavy use

This itself introduced up some fascinating questions. Who would use a pupil sitar to such an extent? A severe musician would nearly definitely have invested in a dearer instrument. Had this been utilized in a music faculty again in India? A music faculty would certainly have invested in a variety of pupil high quality sitars and use them closely.

How did the instrument wind up in Palestine Texas? The individual from whom I purchased it was a businessman who owned storage models. My presumption is that somebody deserted a storage unit, and after a time frame, the businessman merely seized the unit and all of its contents for non-payment of lease.

However that also didn’t clarify how this instrument managed to point out up in East Texas.

Then there have been the repairs. It was apparent that the damaged tabali was repaired within the US. I understand how Indian repairmen work; and it didn’t have the telltale indicators of a deshi craftsman.

I did modify my impression of the earlier restore job. Beforehand I assumed that it was clumsily patched. Nonetheless on shut examination, I got here to the conclusion that the one who repaired it could not have recognized a lot about sitars, however they have been very skilled working with wooden. It confirmed indicators of really being very nicely attended to.

If this instrument might discuss, it may need advised its complete story.

March 8, 2023 – Accessing the Inside the Sitar

It was now time to entry the within of the sitar. This a part of the job is just not for the faint of coronary heart. However I’ve achieved this many instances, so I’m assured that I can convey all of it again collectively.

The very first thing that I did was to chop a gap within the tabali in order that the jack might be connected. Often, such jacks are situated on the excessive backside facet of the tabali. This behavior was most likely impressed by electrical guitars. Sadly my very own expertise confirmed that this tends to make the plugs and cable level in direction of the bottom. This may be awkward. I thought-about the orientation of the sitar within the regular enjoying place, and shifted it backwards a bit in order that the plug and cable would come off parallel to the bottom.

Entry for the jack

Subsequent I lower off a big portion of the kaddu (gourd) within the rear. This offers me unfettered entry to the within of the sitar.

Rear part of kaddu is lower away

Lastly, I added extra glue to bolster the joint.

extra glue is added to tabali

It’s good to attract one’s consideration to a knothole. This was there from the start. Knotholes are dangerous information for any tabali, as a result of they’re an acoustic discontinuity.


I additionally drilled two small holes within the tabali (centre of the 2 “X”). These holes are very small, not more than 2mm in diameter. These holes are there as reference. It doesn’t matter what subsequent steps I absorb engaged on the instrument, I’ll all the time understand how the bridge will line up with the interior transducers.

Outdoors view of reference holes
Inside view of reference holes

March 9, 2023 – Mama and Keela

Opening the sitar reveals many issues. One of many issues that one notices is the very giant variety of picket spikes. These are often called keela, and their goal is to carry the assorted items collectively whereas the glue dries throughout development.


They appear harmless, however appears are deceiving. Anybody who has labored with sitars is aware of that they might appear like innocent match sticks, however they’re truly rather more like metal nails protruding into the inside cavity. They’re there able to extract blood or extra flesh from the neophyte sitar restore individual.

Nonetheless, for me there are lots of recollections connected to them. They instantly take me again to the Seventies in Hyderabad, and of “Mama” Pandurang.

“Mama” Pandurang

Mama should have been in his late forties or early fifties once I was simply in my early 20s. He labored as a repairman of musical devices from a tiny malghi not removed from the Communist E book Retailer, only a stone’s throw from the clocktower. If reminiscence serves me, (and my reminiscence is just not superb nowadays), it was not removed from Sultan Bazaar.

To say that his malghi was small was an understatement. It was in regards to the dimension of most walk-in closets.

I spent many an hour with Mama studying the ins-and outs of instrument restore. His first lesson for me was learn how to make the okeela.

These okeela are constructed from bamboo. Particularly they’re carved from the outer pores and skin of the bamboo. Folks are inclined to neglect that bamboo is stronger than metal. The tensile power of bamboo is 28,000 lb-per-sq-inch in comparison with 23,000 lb-per-sq-inch for metal. When one considers the strength-per-weigh ratio, it’s six instances stronger than metal.

Mama’s qualities have been very spectacular. He was actually a grasp craftsman, who might work on any musical instrument. He was very modest, quite-spoken, however above all else, he was exceptionally type. He didn’t communicate any English, however he did communicate Telugu, Urdu, and his mom tongue of Kannada.

He died fairly a number of years in the past.

So Mama, in case you have been reincarnated someplace, simply know that I’ll by no means have your talent. However for what little I do know, a lot of it’s from you, and I’m grateful.

This ebook is obtainable world wide
Verify your native Amazon. More Info.

March 10 – Floor Preparation, However a Drawback

I used to be filling and sanding down the instrument, concentrating on the tabali. I used to be attending to this portion in order that I might (hopefully) make the joint of the damaged sections invisible. Whereas doing so I encountered a BIG drawback. The joint between the daan (neck) and the gullu (the wooded cowl that connects the neck to the gourd) was structurally unsound.

It is a major problem for a sitar. Sadly, it’s also a typical drawback.

To know this drawback higher, we’ve got to have a look at the way in which a sitar is strung and tuned. The primary string of the sitar is the enjoying string (baaj tar). Nearly all of one’s enjoying might be achieved on this string. The second string is the Mandra Sa string (an octave under the tonic.) Though this string is often performed, extra typically it drones together with the melody to offer a way of the tonic. When one pulls the principle enjoying string laterally (meend), then the Mandra Sa string, in addition to different drone strings, go flat. That is VERY annoying and customarily not one thing that may be fastened.

I added glue to the issue parts. This may increasingly repair the issue, however sadly I’ll not know till then instrument is completed.

March 11, 2023 – The Transducers

I mounted two transducers and jack.

For this, I first wired up a transducer harness. BE CAREFUL OF YOUR SOLDERING AND TEST IT THOROUGHLY.

Transducer harness

Then I bent the 2 ends of the jack-plate in order that it might conform to the curvature of the tabali. Jack-plates are designed for guitars which have a flat entrance. Conversely the tabali has a slight curve, so the jack plate should be barely modified to accommodate this.

Bend the 2 flanges to accommodate the curve of the tabali

Then I mounted the transducers with tremendous glue. I let it dry, THEN I TESTED IT THOROUGHLY!

Mount the transducers with tremendous glue

Then I mounted the jack plate with a mix of wooden screws and tremendous glue. THEN I TESTED IT THOROUGHLY.


I did slightly final minute cleansing of the contacts with acetone, THEN I TESTED IT THOROUGHLY.

After it was all achieved, I TESTED IT THOROUGHLY.

You had higher check all the things totally. When you shut up the again of the sitar, will probably be very tough to return and sort things later.


Transducers – Transducers, extra generally often called pickups or contact microphones, take the vibrations from the instrument and convert them into digital alerts. In principle, any variety of transducers could also be used on musical devices, however mostly one, two, or three are discovered. I made a decision to make use of two, one for every leg of the bridge.

There are a myriad of issues when coping with transducers. However I want to discuss high quality management and impedance.

The primary consideration is high quality management. I do that job typically sufficient to warrant the acquisition transducers in bulk. This has its points. On the optimistic facet, there’s a main saving of cash. On the unfavorable facet, one ought to anticipate no high quality management.

Within the outdated days earlier than the rise of financial neoliberalism, producers staked their reputations on the standard of the products they produced. However no manufacturing course of is ideal; there would all the time be a sure proportion of merchandise that weren’t “as much as specs”. Due to this fact, producers engaged in strenuous testing to weed out and reject unsatisfactory models. The ratio of sellable models to the entire quantity produced, is called the “yield”.

Sadly in the present day, the one consideration is value. Producers really feel no sense of loyalty or obligation to both their staff, their communities, or the shoppers of their merchandise. They contemplate nearly any product to be sellable, with none high quality management. Models that beforehand would have been relegated to the dustbin, now present up on the market in numerous quarters.

Due to this fact the job of high quality management falls upon me. I cannot go into too many particulars, however there are a number of issues I search for. Particularly I’m taking a look at how responsive or “scorching” they’re, and whether or not they’re wired accurately inside.

To check each of this stuff, I join a transducer to an oscilloscope. Does a lightweight faucet produce a great clear spike on the scope? It will inform me how “scorching” they’re. If they don’t produce a pleasant robust response, then they’re instantly discarded.

Testing transducer

Are they wired accurately? It needs to be inconceivable {that a} transducer which is incorrectly wired can be bought in the marketplace. When testing them, most will produce a peak and a particular sample in keeping with their specs. Nonetheless a sure quantity will produce a peak/sample in the other way. In additional technical phrases, such transducers are out-of-phase. If solely a singe transducer is used, then this isn’t an issue. But when a number of transducers are used, it may be an issue; as a result of it’s important that the part be constant.

I’m utilizing two transducers for the sitar.

The plain query is, “Are two transducer higher than one?” If the 2 are nicely matched and correctly mounted the reply is a particular “sure”.

“Do two transducer have twice the sign of 1?” It is a easy query that ought to have a easy reply. Sadly, it sends my thoughts reeling with issues of energy coupling (present coupling) vs. voltage coupling, in addition to totally different doable conditions, each actual and contrived. I’ll say that in all actual world conditions, having two transducers wired in parallel doesn’t produce a considerably stronger sign than a single one. Nonetheless, it enormously improves the signal-to-noise ratio by slicing the supply impedance in half.

(Clean confused appears go right here)

I’ll go into the explanations later, however for now it’s only essential to know that decreasing the supply impedance means that you can use longer instrument cables, with much less sensitivity to electromagnetic interference.

March 12, 2023 – Closing up the Kaddu

I took a can of compressed air and eliminated as a lot mud from the within of the kaddu as I probably might. I didn’t need mud getting on the connections within the jack and inflicting any issues.

I closed up the again, and glued it in place.

After a number of hours, I added filler.

The subsequent job might be rasping, sanding, and filling. It’s a repetitive course of that may go on for days. The aim of which is to cover any hint that the again of the instrument was lower open.

March 13, 2023 – Psychedelia

One will discover that there’s a change within the title of this weblog. It’s now titled “Psychedelic Electrical Sitar.”

Psychedelia is a Sixties aesthetic that’s recognized for a really distinctive fashion. It’s an aesthetic that’s characterised by exaggerated colors. Themes and motifs swirl collectively in a phantasmagoria that’s supposedly paying homage to a hallucinogenic drug expertise.

There appear to have emerged two colleges of psychedelic artwork within the Sixties; one in Europe and one other within the US.

The European faculty of psychedelia was dominated by a Dutch creative collective often called “The Idiot”. This collective, was composed of Simon Posthuma, Marijke Koger, Josje Leeger, and Barry Finch. A list of their shoppers for paintings, clothes, and different creative endeavours, reads like a who’s Who of Sixties popular culture. These embody The Beatles, Eric Clapton, the Hollies, Procol Harum, The Unimaginable String Band, and a number of others.

Reproduction of Eric Clapton’s guitar. Unique by the “Idiot” (Wikimedia Commons, 2006)

Conversely, the American faculty of psychedelia was dominated by artists reminiscent of Peter Max, Wes Wilson, Bonnie Maclean and Rick Griffin. A lot of their work centred round poster artwork.

So why am I doing this?

The reply may be very easy. Chandra and myself are steadily referred to as upon to sit down in on covers of Sixties music; a lot of which makes use of the sitar. This explicit instrument with its lack of sympathetic strings (tarafdar), is right for such conditions, as a result of we seldom are given a lot time between items to retune. A 60s electrical psychedelic sitar motif matches the necessity completely. Moreover, we have already got three sitars and a surbahar of conventional ornament, so we actually don’t want one other one of many identical. Let me do one thing totally different.

March 14 – Masking and Priming

I took masking tape and coated up all the things that I don’t need painted.

Use masking tape to cowl all the things tat is just not imagined to be painted

I utilized primer to the sitar. I do not likely care about full protection. It’s significantly better to make a lightweight coat, let it dry, flippantly sand the instrument, then repeat the method. A number of skinny coats utilized on this course of are significantly better than a single thick coat.

In a perfect world the floor preparation is compete earlier than making use of the primer. Nonetheless in the actual world, it’s tough to evaluate what the floor goes to be like till one applies the primer. Due to this fact I repeatedly return to the filling and sanding stage till issues are actually passable. This course of will take a number of days

Apply primer

One ought to be aware of one factor. I’m making use of primers and sealers to this instrument as a result of it’s already acoustically compromised. For many devices, I might not contemplate making use of them to any floor aside from the kaddu.

March 15, 2023 – Supply Impedance

Allow us to return to the subject of supply impedance for a bit. We’ll particularly cope with the subject of supply impedance because it pertains to electrified stringed devices. We’ll begin with a easy gedankenexperiment.

Think about that you’ve a dry cell linked to a small lamp. Not surprisingly, the lamp lights up.

A dry cell powers a single lamp with ease

Now allow us to put two lamps in parallel, such that it’ll now be drawing twice the present. On this scenario, it’s nonetheless possible that each lamps will illuminate.

A dry cell would most likely deal with two lamps

However as we maintain including lamps, sooner or later the demand for present turns into so nice that the dry cell won’t be able to deal with it. At that time the lamps is not going to illuminate.

If we maintain including lamps, sooner or later the dry cell turns into overwhelmed

What is occurring right here is that our supply of electrical energy (the dry cell) has an inside resistance. As one continues to make better and better calls for upon the supply, sooner or later this inside resistance turns into so important that the dry cell is just not in a position to deal with it.

Each supply of electrical energy has an inside supply resistance.

You could be asking your self, “Tremendous, that’s supply resistance; however what’s supply impedance?”

Impedance is nothing greater than resistance to alternating present. Audio parts need to cope with alternating currents of as much as 20,000 instances a second! For comparability, the wall present in your own home is both 50 or 60 instances a second. Digital parts behave in a different way at excessive frequencies in comparison with direct present. Since we’re coping with sound, we might be involved with supply impedance, slightly than supply resistance.

The subsequent query issues how reducing the supply impedance reduces noise. It is a bit difficult, so allow us to check with the schematic proven under:

Schematic diagram of a typical stage efficiency

Within the above diagram we see an electrical guitar with instrument cable linked to a mixer, a sound man, and his two assistants. On this case, the instrument cable acts like a big antenna. It’s sitting there on stage prepared to select up any electromagnetic alerts within the space. (We are able to presume that no electromagnetic interference could be imposed upon the bottom wire.)

On this final diagram, the sound man is under no circumstances proud of the electromagnetic noise on the instrument cable.

There are three tried-and-true strategies to make the soundman joyful once more:

  • Scale back the noise on the instrument cable.
  • Enhance the beer
  • Enhance the weed

For the needs of this weblog, we are going to focus on first method. Particularly, we are going to communicate of utilizing supply impedance as a way to cut back noise.

OK, we see that the instrument cable is appearing like an antenna.

You could now be asking your self. “If this can be a large antenna, then why doesn’t my native radio station come by way of?” Nicely the reply is that in some unlucky conditions, they do come by way of, and you’ll hear an AM broadcast coming by way of your system. However fortuitously, stage gear is designed to reject the excessive frequency radio alerts which present up on the instrument cable, so it doesn’t occur fairly often.

However there are different sources of electromagnetic interference which aren’t really easy to remove.

60/50 cycle hum is one instance of inauspicious to remove electromagnetic interference. If one filters out hum by the use of its frequency response, then one runs the chance of additionally filtering out the bass participant (bass gamers don’t like that). Even in Indian music, for the reason that cut-off within the frequency response is just not very sharp, however slightly a slope (often called “Q”), making an attempt to filter out this hum additionally cuts into the left hand drum of the tabla. So this method has restricted utility.

Different pesky sources of electromagnetic noise are the assorted clicks, pops, and hash noise that comes from excessive energy gear. A number of the commonest sources are air conditioners. Eradicating this by way of filtering is not possible, as a result of they occupy a really broad portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Due to this fact musicians have provide you with a wide range of methods of coping with electromagnetic interference (noise) over the past hundred years.

Think about a easy scenario. If the instrument cable acts as an antenna, what occurs if we merely brief it to floor. If you happen to take your electrical guitar, sitar, or what-not, and brief the cable to floor, I assure that each one noise will disappear! Sadly so will your enjoying.

Though shorting the cable to floor is just not a sensible technique of decreasing electromagnetic interference, it does trace at one other method. If we are able to cut back the supply impedance through the use of a number of transducers in parallel, it would retain a great sign stage, by partially shunting the noise to floor. That is the style by which a number of transducers enhance the signal-to-noise ratio.

March 16, 2023 – Portray

I’ve began to color the sitar. I’m utilizing cans of spray paint. As beforehand talked about, I apply a skinny coat of paint, flippantly sand it, then repeat the method an indefinite variety of instances.

Portray the psychedelic sitar

March 17, 2023 – Extra Masking

Extra masking achieved.

Extra maskinjg

March 18, 2023 – Stochasticity and Determinism in Psychedelia

The solar was setting low as I pulled my bicycle as much as the Twenties fashion two storied home. There was a gathering of individuals right here in celebration of one thing. I’ve fully forgotten what it was in celebration of, however within the circle that I transfer in, it by no means required a lot of a motive.

In all places there was exercise. There was a big Victorian styled entrance porch by which a band was enjoying. It was enjoying a wide range of unique rock/jazz fusion. Round fifty folks have been randomly going out and in of the home, yard, and spilling out onto the side-walk (footpath). Though there have been folks of all ages, the bulk have been of their mid 20s. A lot of them have been graduate college students on the native college. The celebratory environment was augmented by a wide range of leisure chemical compounds; authorized and in any other case.

Within the driveway was a automobile. Random folks would come as much as the automobile, seize a paintbrush, and start to brighten it in no matter color they fancied.

This was not San Francisco within the Sixties; this was Houston circa 2018. But right here was a strong expression of an art-form and tradition that existed many years earlier than most of those folks have been even born.

This set me fascinated with the aesthetic dynamics of what was occurring right here. As I’m engaged on my psychedelic electrical sitar, many of those ideas are returning.

In any art-form there are two total approaches one can take to acquire the ultimate product. On one hand, there’s a deterministic method. It is a assortment of instruments and methods that are geared towards very managed and predictable outcomes. However, there’s a stochastic method, which yields considerably random and unpredictable outcomes.

The collective endeavour of portray the automobile precluded the opportunity of there being any form of cohesive creative imaginative and prescient. It was a collective creative expression that was an excessive instance of the random high quality of stochasticity.

The stochastic components of my sitar are offered by over-spraying totally different colors. This produces an fascinating, however unpredictable gradient between them.

In distinction, there’s a healthful diploma of determinism. This exhibits up in preplanned exhausting edges that are obtained by masking.

A great work of psychedelia might be a correct steadiness of stochastic and deterministic approaches.

Will I attain such a steadiness?

I don’t know.

March 19, 2023 – Nonetheless Extra Masking and Portray

But nonetheless extra portray and masking

March 20, 2023 – Krylon

Krylon paint is TERRIBLE. Its protection is atrocious, it runs terribly. Moreover, it’s the solely paint I’ve seen that may fester when utilized to itself. It’s clear that I’ll lose a number of days of labor simply from utilizing this horrible stuff.

March 21, 2023 – Eliminated Masking

Eliminated masking (entrance view)
Eliminated masking (facet view)

Are you curious about a secular method to educating Indian music.
Indian music is conventional taught in a vogue that’s linked to Hindu world views. However there are conditions, typically in colleges, the place this method will not be the most effective. In such conditions The Music of South Asia could also be the most effective useful resource for you.

March 22, 2023 – Touching Up / Texas A&M

I used to be simply doing a little touch-ups for the sitar. The method of masking was fairly good, however there have been a number of spots that wanted attending to.

This took a number of hours. The work was tedious, nevertheless it actually didn’t require a variety of consideration. Consequently, my thoughts wandered.

As I used to be engaged on the sitar, recollections of me constructing a tanpura fifty years in the past stored coming again to me. These recollections grew to become particularly highly effective as the results of a small day journey I made a number of days in the past.

On Sunday, just some days in the past, I went to Texas A&M College. I tagged together with a good friend who was taking his son again to high school after spring break. By some likelihood of destiny, he’s in Dunn Corridor, the identical dormitory by which I spent my freshman yr, precisely half a century in the past (fall 1972-spring 1973).

Dunn Corridor – Texas A&M College (Cushing Memorial Library and Archives)

Fifty years in the past in the present day, I might have spent my time sitting exterior Dunn Corridor engaged on my tanpura. That is one thing that I’ve thought rather a lot about whereas engaged on this undertaking.

My freshman yr outlined who I’m in the present day. This in itself is a really regular factor; however in my case it outlined issues in a unfavorable vogue. I organized my life to be diametrically reverse of what it was at the moment.

There have been a variety of stressors which made my freshman yr the start of probably the most tough and sad interval of my life.

On the floor, issues ought to have been superb. I didn’t have the burden of pupil loans like a lot of in the present day’s college students do. I used to be desirous about my topic. The college had a wonderful repute, and I had a gentle girlfriend. Every little thing ought to have been nice; however they weren’t.

Brand for Texas A&M College

Let me start with the Texas A&M. It has all the time had good repute academically; nevertheless it has a really disturbing tradition. It has an extended historical past of glorify probably the most ignoble elements of American society (e.g., militarism). It additionally glorifies elements of American tradition which can be innocent, however I completely can’t stand (e.g., soccer). Moreover, it has a really lengthy historical past of honouring a number of the worst folks the US has ever produced (e.g., Lowry Mays, George H.W. Bush). The College’s regressive ethos chafed me to no finish. I felt completely misplaced, and this was an ideal supply of stress.

Anther supply of stress was bioengineering. It was a topic that I had an incredible curiosity in, however had by no means truly thought-about the life-style that went together with it. As I progressed by way of my research, I used to be looking forward to a life the place I might have 1.3 wives 2.5 children, a canine, and a home within the suburbs. I might be an engineer for 15 years, then in gross sales and administration for 15 years. The suffocating conventionality of the life forward of me was as abhorrent as a condemned man’s impending execution.

However the largest drawback was my girlfriend; her identify was Karen McMaster. She was a phenomenal younger woman whose father was British and her mom was American. We had been going collectively for about two years. This could have been a supply of nice happiness for me, nevertheless it was truly a supply of utmost stress.

Karen McMaster 1973
Karen McMaster 1973

The issue was that Karen was quickly going blind. My emotions of helplessness have been overpowering. I pretended that it didn’t trouble me, and that it was simply “a part of life”. However the extra that I attempted to suppress the stress, the more serious issues grew to become.

My response to those numerous stressors was certainly one of escapism. This escapism centred round Indian music. Why Indian music? The reply merely is that it was as distant from my then situation as was humanly doable.

This escapism took two kinds. On one hand, I might spend the times within the library pouring over outdated copies of Illustrated Weekly of India. Any time I ran throughout any article that was related to Indian music, I might photocopy it. However extra related to this weblog, was the time that I spent constructing a tanpura. For this, I spent a variety of time exterior Dunn Corridor engaged on the instrument.

Photocopies from 50 years in the past

However the escapism did nothing to cope with the stressors. I felt like an animal that was caught in a lure. As such, I might have gladly gnawed off my very own leg simply to flee.

Issues might now not proceed.

I did what I needed to do. I acquired on a practice headed for San Francisco to enrol within the Ali Akbar School of Music.

That night on the railway platform was a type of few actually pivotal moments of 1’s life. I left my household, my house, and the college. I left my total earlier life for a brand new life, simply to get away from the stressors. After I left Karen on the railway platform, I by no means noticed her once more; our relationship didn’t survive the bodily separation.

Karen’s well being continued to say no, and she or he died a number of years later on the age of 27.

That’s how my freshman yr outlined my life in a completely unfavorable vogue. An Indian musician is NOT a bioengineer. Going forwards and backwards between India and Houston is NOT School Station. I do NOT affiliate with individuals who glorify greed, militarism, or different ignoble elements of American life. Extra importantly, Chandra is NOT Karen McMaster.

And that’s precisely the way in which that I need it.

March 23, 2023 – Shellac

I utilized shellac.

March 24, 2023 – Testing the Impedance

Now we have mentioned impedance. We mentioned what it’s, and the way necessary it’s to getting a great signal-to-noise ratio.

We didn’t talk about the way it additionally impacts the standard of sound. This entails going into such arcane ideas because the enter impedance of 1’s amplifier/mixer, capacitance of the cables, and a myriad of different issues that are each extremely technical, and past the scope of this weblog.

Nonetheless, we do want to speak about learn how to measure our impedance.

One’s first impression can be that measuring impedance requires some specialised digital gear. Luckily, this isn’t the case. Though measuring the supply impedance (referred to a Zsupply) of our electrical sitar is just not intuitive, as soon as we see learn how to do it, it’s embarrassingly easy.

The gear for measuring the impedance is proven under. It consists of nothing greater than a potentiometer, an ohm-meter, an oscilloscope, our electrical sitar, an etching pin, and a wide range of alligator clip jumper cables.

We have to set all the things up as proven under:

Setup to measure supply impedance

Allow us to now make some measurements.

Measuring the impedance is a 3 step course of:

  • Measure a sign with none load
  • Alter the load till the sign drops to 1/2 its unique worth
  • Measure the load

Allow us to go over these three steps in better element.

1) Measure a sign with none load – The schematic is proven under:

Schematic digram of measurement (with out load)

Now we have taped our etching pen to the tabali with masking tape. When the etching pen is turned on, it would vibrate. This sends vibrations by way of the sitar. These vibrations are picked up by the piezoelectric transducers, which in flip output an electrical sign. This sign is then fed into the oscilloscope.

It can be crucial that the oscilloscope be an actual {hardware} machine. One mustn’t suppose {that a} software program model on one’s pc is adequate. Not like the audio interface of the pc, the oscilloscope has a particularly excessive enter impedance enabling it to make exact voltage measurements. Conversely, the audio interface to your pc was by no means designed to be a precision measuring machine, and can produce misguided outcomes.

We’re solely desirous about getting a reference sign. We don’t actually care what the precise voltage is. Merely alter the oscilloscope till one has a full tour of the hint.

Alter for full scale tour

2) Alter the load till the sign drops to 1/2 its unique worth – The schematic for this step is proven under:

Join load resistor

We join the potentiometer and alter it in order that the sign is half of what the reference sign was. You could must attempt a number of pots till you discover one which works comfortably. I discovered {that a} 20kΩ labored nicely for me. (It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s an audio taper or a linear taper, both will work.)

Set the load in order that the voltage drops to 1/2 its preliminary worth

3) Measure the load – Take away the potentiometer and measure it with an ohm-meter. Regardless of the resistance of the pot is, that’s your supply impedance.

Measure the resistance of the load, this might be equal to the supply impedance

Why does this work? – In a way, we’ve got arrange an “L” pad attenuator. (see under)

This course of works like an “L” pad

When the 2 resistances of an “L” pad are equal, then Vout might be precisely 1/2 of Vin. We might have used different resistance values for our load to seek out the Zsupply of our sitar, however this is able to have pressured us to invoke Ohm’s legislation, and do a bunch of calculations. (I’m lazy and didn’t wish to do that.)

OK, so once I measured it, I discovered the Zsupply to be roughly 5kΩ. So now we are able to positively say that the Zsupply of the sitar is 5kΩ – Proper?

Not essentially – identical to a squirrel can develop into fascinated by small shiny issues, it is extremely simple to develop into hypnotised by numbers we get on this vogue. We should not neglect that impedance is frequency dependent. The spectral parts of a sitar’s sound cowl a big portion of the audio spectrum. It might be silly to anticipate the transducers to behave constantly throughout this vary.

Due to this fact, it’s higher so say that 5kΩ is the “nominal” worth.

March 25, 2023 – The First Two Strings

It’s now time to mount the primary two strings. String #1 and string #2 are crucial strings on a sitar. We’ll want these for each additional testing, in addition to the right crafting and placement of the frets.

Nonetheless, earlier than we connect theses strings, we’ve got to revive some elements that we beforehand eliminated. We exchange the moghara.

Mogara at tailpiece

We additionally exchange the bridge on the higher a part of the neck.

Higher bridge and string information

We now return to our pegs that we eliminated originally of this undertaking. We coated the ends with chalk and affixed the strings within the conventional method.

Tuning pegs for string #1 and string #2

And we exchange the principle bridge.

Principal bridge

At this level we are able to tune the strings to their respective pitches (i.e., F# – Ma for the primary string and C# – Sa, for the second string.)

That is the primary quantity of probably the most full collection on the tabla. Fundamentals of Tabla

It’s accessible world wide. Verify your native Amazon for pricing.

March 26, 2023 – Final Spherical of Checks

Now that the sitar has some strings on it, it’s time for some extra checks.

The primary check was to see how “scorching” the sign was. For this I linked the output of the sitar to the oscilloscope and plucked the principle enjoying string.

Join oscilloscope to measure sign

I used to be pleasantly shocked on the outcomes of this check. There was a whopping 600mV peak-to-peak sign. That is certainly a highly regarded instrument.

The subsequent step was a completely subjective check. I plugged the instrument into the Excessive Z enter of an ART PRO MPA II preamp. This enter is particularly designed for electrified devices. The output of which went into my mixing board. This check is a “actual world” check as a result of it’s the method that the sitar might be utilized in actual conditions.

PRO MPA II – Preamplifier

I discovered that the electrical sitar behaved superbly. It had wonderful sign to noise traits because of its very robust output. That is an space the place it might have suffered, as a result of the 5 kΩ supply impedance actually isn’t notably low.

I used to be additionally happy to seek out that from a wholly acoustical standpoint, it wasn’t actually that dangerous. This was regardless of the damaged tabali, worn bridge, and heavy layers of paint on the acoustically energetic surfaces.

March 27, 2023 – Frets

Solely a six of the unique frets have been left on the instrument. I wanted one other 14.

Due to this fact, I used to be rummaging by way of my miscellaneous sitar elements. I used to be fairly positive I had 14 frets. I discovered a slew of them, however they have been too massive. I rummaged round some extra. This time I discovered a variety of veena frets; these have been of no use. I searched some extra, and this time I discovered about 30 frets, these too have been the incorrect dimension. I stored trying and discovering extra frets, some as giant as 20cm. I don’t know what an instrument with 20cm frets would appear like. Nonetheless the elements got here – frets – frets – and extra frets, 75, 100, 150 frets! They have been all mixing collectively in a jumble of improper sizes. I used to be getting an increasing number of annoyed at this complicated mess of ineffective elements.

Then I awakened.

See Also

It was all only a dream introduced on by my fruitless searches the evening earlier than. Looking out my very own inventory of frets turned up nothing, and my web searches have been likewise fruitless.

Fret for my sitar (prime), “normal” dimension (backside)

I would like 14 frets, however this sitar is slightly bit smaller than a traditional one. Due to this fact, the frets that I’ve are too massive. I searched the web, however discovered no frets of the dimensions that I wanted. I might purchase bigger frets. However these have been frightfully costly, and they might nonetheless require slicing, notching, and sharpening. Due to this fact, I might be spending some huge cash on one thing that also wouldn’t match.

I made a decision to make my very own.

I went on a seek for brass rods in native shops. I attempted a number of locations right here in Houston, however discovered nothing appropriate. So I acquired on the web and bought a few brass rods that I can machine to the right dimensions.

It will take a number of days to ship.

No drawback. I definitely produce other jobs to do.

I briefly affixed the frets that I do have with rubber bands. This enables me to seek out the right positions. Later I’ll tie them in place.

Frets briefly affixed with rubber bands

March 28, 2023 – Tied Frets

I tied the six unique frets that had beforehand been held in place by rubber bands.

March 29, 2023 – Tuning Knob

I’ve a number of days earlier than the brass rods arrive, due to this fact I’m turning my consideration to different issues.

One of many kuntis (tuning knob) is lacking, so I’ve to make a brand new one.

I would like a picket inventory to place in my lathe. I began with a picket finial. A finial is an ornamental bob that goes on the highest of fence-posts, banisters, or different issues. I selected a finial for a number of causes. Initially, it was a handy dimension. Secondly, it was (presumably) already seasoned and cured, and extra importantly it was low cost.

Picket finial

My lathe may be very small, so I needed to lower it right down to make a usable dimension. For this I first eliminated the screw that was in the long run. Then I rasped it down, and lower off some extra. I then changed the screw, however lower off the surplus.

Picket inventory

When it was sufficiently small, I put it within the lathe and began to show it.

All of those issues took the higher a part of the afternoon. It took so lengthy as a result of my lathe is basically not superb. After working a very long time, it nonetheless wasn’t completed. I needed to prepare for a gathering, so I left it unfinished.

That is so far as I acquired.

Unfinished tuning knob

March 30, 2023 – Tuning Knob (#2)

I completed turning the knob. There may be nonetheless a substantial quantity of labor required earlier than it is able to use, however I now not require the lathe.

Working with the lathe is completed

March 31, 2023 – Tuning Knob (#3)

I attended to some small ending touches on the tuning knob. This concerned filling the 2 holes on both finish (left from the lathe). I stuffed them with a combination of sawdust and wooden glue. After drying, I rasped and sanded the knob to make it adhere rather more carefully to the unique knobs. Subsequent, I drilled a gap within the stem to mount the string. Lastly, there have been a number of extra rounds of sealing, portray, and sanding.

Unique knob (left), new knob (proper)

The kunti (tuning knob) is sort of completed. The one job left is to suit it to the opening. On this regard, I’ve deliberately left the stem bigger than I need it.

April 1, 2023 – Stringing

At the moment, I strung the instrument with all the beforehand present tuning knobs. I’ve not but used the one chikari kunti (tuning knob) that I’ve been engaged on for the previous couple of days, as a result of I’ve not but fitted the knob to the opening.

Strung instrument
Strings connect to mogara at base

I discovered that sooner or later on this sitar’s historical past, the chikari mogaras acquired blended up. The mogara that I discovered within the tar saptak place (higher octave) truly was imagined to be within the madhya saptak gap.

Chikari mogara

I additionally discovered that the chikari mogara had an inadequate groove in it, so I deepened the slot. This could maintain the string higher.

I’ve selected a tuning that has a number of the traits of a Vilayat Khan fashion, but additionally a number of the traits of a Ravi Shankar fashion. I made a decision on this tuning, partly due to the dimensions of the kaddu, but additionally the sitar’s meant use on stage.

Beneath is the tuning. (Sa = C#)

  • String 1 – (enjoying string) Mandra Ma
  • String 2 – Mandra Sa
  • String 3 – Mandra Sa
  • String 4 – Mandra Ga
  • String 5 – Mandra Pa
  • String 6 – (Chikari) Madhya Sa
  • String 7 – (Chikari) Tar Sa

It is a ebook/streaming audio set that may get you began. More Info.

April 2, 2023 – Misc. Issues

I attended to a number of various things in the present day.

I fitted the ultimate kunti (tuning knob). That is the one which I’ve been engaged on for the previous couple of days. It’s a tedious course of that entails chalking the stem of the peg, inserting it into the opening, twisting a number of instances, then eradicating the peg, and in search of disruptions within the chalk. Wherever there’s a disruption within the chalk, that signifies a spot the place the peg is touching the perimeters of the opening. I then rasped it down with a wooden rasp to make the tuning knob conform to what I need it to be.

There have been a number of different issues that I observed and attended to.

One factor that got here to my consideration was within the present tuning knobs. Someday within the historical past of this instrument, two pegs grew to become transposed. In a sitar, all of the holes are slightly bit totally different; due to this fact, two pegs have been not likely becoming nicely. I put them again of their meant positions. Now they match nice.

I additionally observed that the prevailing chikari mogara was nonetheless insufficiently grooved. The chikari string stored slipping off. I eliminated it, deepened the notch, now all the things appears nice.

April 3, 2023 – Cremation-Floor

“It smells like a smarshanam!” mentioned Chandra in a considerably disturbed tone.

She says the identical factor each time that I’m working with camel bone. When one is working with it, the friction of slicing and turning with a lathe causes the bone to char and emit a robust odor which is reminiscent shmarshan (cremation floor).

I used to be busy turning a small piece of camel bone on the lathe to make a brand new chikari mogara. It is a job which is rather more demanding than it might seem. Camel bone is extrodinarilly exhausting, and due to this fact tough to work. Moreover, the small dimension of the mogara signifies that one’s tolerances are measured in millimetres.

The job of fashioning the chikari mogara begins with a small piece of bone. That is positioned within the lathe.

Small piece of camel bone

It’s turned till it’s the approximate dimension that one needs. Discover that there’s a bob on one finish. That is the place the place the bone piece was held by the chuck on the lathe.

Unfinished mogara

It should bear slightly little bit of ending. This begins by slicing off the bob. One now takes a file and works on the tip to be sure that it matches accurately within the gap.

When the mogara is fitted within the gap, one should alter he peak. It can be crucial that the brand new mogara be significantly taller than one wants. The necessities for it being an accurate peak are so demanding, that it’s nearly not possible to determine it out forward of time. Due to this fact, you need to begin with an extended one than you want, then lower it right down to the right dimension. If you happen to place the mogara within the gap and look from the facet of the instrument, it ought to get up significantly increased than the extent of the strings.

Mogara needs to be taller than you want

Mark the mogara at a spot which is simply barely increased than the string. You want the completed mogara to lift the chikari string to be stage with the opposite strings; however you will have some room to work, therefore the upper place.

Mark the mogara

Take away the mogara and lower it on the place the place you marked. With a file, spherical off the sides.

Now lower a groove into the mogara.

Completed mogara

Put it again within the gap and gently faucet it firmly into place.

In case you have achieved all the things accurately, the chikari mogara will elevate the string to the extent of the opposite strings.

Mogaras ought to elevate the strings to the identical stage as the opposite strings

It is a ebook/streaming audio set that continues the place the primary ebook left off. More Info.

April 4, 2023 – “Commonplace” Tuning (Pt. 1)

“Tum Hindu ya Mussalman?” (Are you Hindu or Muslim?) enquired the miscreant.

My spouse and myself have been on a bike on a highway in an undeveloped space close to Chikkadpalli. It was about 1979.

Chandra, myself, and our BSA Bantam motorbike (1979)

“Hindu ya Mussalman?” repeated the miscreant.

I used to be undecided what reply the band of miscreants have been in search of; however I knew {that a} incorrect reply might conceivably value me my life.

“Christian,” I replied. I knew that this was a secure reply, and totally plausible given the color of my pores and skin. Whereupon, we have been allowed to go.

By no means-the-less, this incident satisfied Chandra and myself that we should always go away Hyderabad as quickly as doable. This was just a few months after the notorious “Rameeza Bee” incident, by which the state authorities was suspended, and the navy was referred to as in to revive order. Throughout that point there had been 20 hour a day curfews. We have been allowed out on the streets for under 4 hours a day to seek out meals and water. I used to be in no temper for a repeat of the scenario.

We had a really brief time to flee Hyderabad. Chandra and myself shortly made our option to our small flat in Moosarambagh, packed some issues, and managed to get to the APSRTC bus depot. We have been lucky sufficient to get one of many final buses out of town.

We suffered an uncomfortable evening’s journey in antiquated buses. The rickety automobiles appeared to have been held along with baling wire and glue. After what appeared like an eternity, we pulled into Akividu.

Akividu was a particularly small city in 1979. It was simply barely bigger than a village. It had a number of small retailers, however a plethora of rice godowns (retailer homes). The one notable entity was the “Star of Hope” missionary hospital, by which my sadu-bhai (spouse’s-sister’s-husband) labored.

There was completely nothing to do, so I used to be bored. However at the least there have been no curfews, no bands of miscreants roaming the streets, and no riots.

Nonetheless I used to be BORED. I wanted one thing to occupy my time.

I used to be in a position to come throughout an outdated tribal musician, who was affectionately often called Tata (grandfather). He was a performer in addition to a purveyor of a folks instrument that he known as kamakshi veena. I spent a substantial period of time with him documenting each facet of it that I might. However when it got here to the topic of tuning, he checked out me like I used to be an entire idiot. He couldn’t even try and reply the query.

“Tata” and his Kamakshi veena

This was an issue that I stored arising towards. I might ask musicians how they tuned their devices, however steadily all that I might get have been confused appears.

It was starting to happen to me that they weren’t the issue; I used to be the issue. I used to be affected by a particularly Eurocentric method to the topic. I wanted to divest myself of it if I used to be going to know Indian music. I used to be urgent them for the standard tuning, when in actuality none existed.

When discussing the topic with extra knowledgable classical musicians, the general rules have been conveyed to me. In India, tuning the instrument is a part of the inventive course of. Chandra was finding out sitar, so I had materials coping with sitar tunings. Moreover, I used to be additionally getting info on different devices as nicely. However attempting to pin their tunings right down to a regular tuning was analogous to getting maintain of a pianist and demanding to know what keys they hit.

April 5, 2023 – “Commonplace” Tuning (Pt. 2)

There isn’t a such factor as a regular tuning for sitar, however there are frequent tunings. The Ravi Shankar fashion and Vilayat Khan fashion are two frequent approaches, however nothing which is normal. The straightforward proven fact that strings should be retuned each time you turn from one rag to a different precludes this.

With this warning, allow us to return to the tuning that I’m utilizing for this sitar. This was described within the April 1st entry.

One can instantly see that I’m in search of a really common method for this instrument. This generalism is the principle benefit of not having sympathetic strings. The specificity of devices with sympathetic strings might be an necessary motive why such devices have been largely deserted in European music. At the moment, devices such because the viola d’amour are nearly by no means to be present in Western performances.

A sure diploma of generalism is current in my tuning. Except the principle enjoying string (string #1), nearly all the opposite strings are tuned to both Sa (tonic) or Pa (pure fifth).

However string #4 stands out. It’s tuned to Ga (pure third). Which means when performing, the whole sitar might be droning a C# main chord. Clearly there will not be too many Western musical conditions the place this might be acceptable. One might both drop the string right down to Sa or elevate it to Pa to make the instrument extra common; however that might additional compromise the character of the sitar.

Generalism is NOT a personality of the sitar. Its tuning should be modified in accordance the specifics of every piece. Even with out the sympathetic strings, the tuning proven April 1st, would most likely be used much less the 50% of the time.

So allow us to talk about extra conditions and tunings.

String #4 can merely transfer between the pure third (shuddha Ga) and the minor third (komal Ga) in keeping with the dimensions. This doesn’t require any complicated understanding of the music, and is straightforward to have an effect on.

Nonetheless, string #5 introduces some twists. If the pure fifth (Pa) is just not current, then we are going to often want to go for the pure 4th (shuddha Ma). There are nevertheless complexities concerned when there is no such thing as a Pa, however solely an augmented 4th (tivra Ma). In such conditions, we most likely wouldn’t want to tune to tivra Ma, however as an alternative would most likely want to tune to no matter Ga (third) or Dha (sixth) is used.

Now we have mentioned some choices so far as the modality of the instrument, however what about the important thing. One will steadily be referred to as upon to play the sitar in a wide range of keys. Altering the important thing between C, C#, or D isn’t any drawback. One merely will increase or decreases the strain of all of the strings. One could even drop it to B or decrease, however the high quality of the sound suffers tremendously.

However what do you do if you’re referred to as upon to play in F, F#, G, or one thing comparable? You’ll be able to all the time give some excuses as to why it can’t be achieved. However the one factor that may occur is that the individual contacting you’ll go away and method somebody who says they’ll do it. You should have misplaced the gig and gained nothing.

So by what magic is that different individual doing it? We’ll see tomorrow.

April 6, 2023 – “Commonplace” Tuning (Pt. 3)

Enjoying a sitar in a key anyplace close to F# has its challenges. Tuning down from a C# is out of the query; the strings might be too unfastened. Tuning up can be out of the query; this can definitely break the strings.

There may be excellent news and dangerous information regarding the way in which that we accomplish this. The excellent news is that it may be achieved with none compromise within the high quality of the sound. The dangerous new is that it requires a substantial quantity of flexibility and talent; as a result of the place of the notes on the frets will change.

The important thing to enjoying in F# or anyplace close to that, is to be discovered within the first and second strings. In regular conditions, these are tuned to Ma and Sa respectively. What we’ve got to do is invert the tuning.

Inversion is a musical course of whereby a chord modifications its definition because of a change in its root.

(Dazed and confused appears go right here.)

Don’t fear, it isn’t actually difficult.

Allow us to return and have a look at the tuning that we proposed April 1st. If we have a look at the pitches indicated we get:

String #1 F# Mandra Ma
String #2 C# Mandra Sa
String #3 C# Mandra Sa
String #4 F Mandra Ga
String #5 G# Mandra Pa
String #6 C# Madhya Sa
String #7 C# Tar Sa

Now, let is maintain the identical tuning of the strings, however merely declare that string #1 is Sa, and never Ma. Despite the fact that we’ve got not altered any of the strain of the strings, the brand new values are:

String #1 F# Madhya Sa
String #2 C# Mandra Pa
String #3 C# Mandra Pa
String #4 F Mandra Ni
String #5 G# Madhya Re
String #6 C# Madhya Pa
String #7 C# Tar Pa

Bear in mind these new values are from the important thing of F#, but they didn’t require any important retuning of the instrument. (You could must barely tweak the fret positions and tuning because of the truth that the sitar is in a simply intonation and never tempered. If that is exhausting to know, don’t fear about. Simply tweak it till it sounds proper.)

From the earlier chart we see that all the strings are an affordable pitch besides strings #4 and #5. We might most likely prefer to convey string #5 right down to the Sa place; to do in any other case would make the tonic absent within the enjoying of jhalla. However string #4 is open to 1’s creative imaginative and prescient. If one merely needs to “play it secure”, then one can elevate the pitch of string #4 to Sa.

The sitar is now tuned to F#, however the frets are all in numerous positions. Sa now could be on the open first string, as an alternative of the seventh fret. Due to this fact, it’s important to be versatile and expert in order that you don’t get confused.

And that’s all there may be to it.

That is the primary quantity of probably the most full collection on the tabla. Fundamentals of Tabla

It’s accessible world wide. Verify your native Amazon for pricing.

April 7, 2023 – Frets

It has rained all day in the present day. The daytime excessive didn’t go above 60F (16C) in the present day. That is unthinkably chilly in Houston for this time of yr. Chandra is fortunately ensconced in her chair in the lounge watching an infinite stream of Korean and Chinese language dramas.

It’s a good day to sit down in my studio and make frets.

The work is sluggish. The work is tedious. However I’ve music enjoying, and it’s a very stress-free option to spend the day.

I wasted a variety of time simply gathering the instruments and creating a workflow. Due to this fact, I solely acquired 4 frets made. I had truly made a fifth one, however I by chance spoiled it whereas I used to be setting the motion.

4 frets, a day’s work

April 8, 2023 – Extra Frets, however a Drawback

Very sluggish progress in the present day.

I solely acquired three frets made. I discovered that a number of the frets would harm the paint once they have been adjusted. Not like a traditional sitar whose entrance of the neck is concave, this fashion of sitar has one that’s convex. Due to this fact a bigger portion of the neck is available in contact with the 2 legs of the frets. I’ll make slight modifications within the subsequent frets with the intention to accommodate this.

I needed to contact up the locations the place the paint was broken. Tomorrow after the paint has dried, I’ll proceed work.

April 9, 2023 – Extra Frets

Very sluggish progress, however progress non-the-less.

Two frets, sluggish progress

I spent the whole afternoon, tying frets, eradicating them, remodeling them, retying them, solely to repeat the method an indefinite variety of instances

The online progress in all of this was solely two frets added.

I did work out a option to cope with the convex face of the neck with out scratching the paint. If I cut back the footprint of the fret to only cowl the bakelite trim, then this appears to work properly. Nonetheless, it does improve the quantity of labor I’ve to do for every fret.

Conventional fret foot (prime), modified fret foot (backside)

That is the second quantity of probably the most full collection on the tabla. Advanced Theory of Tabla

It’s accessible world wide. Verify your native Amazon for pricing.

April 10, 2023 – Two Extra Frets

Yep, that’s it.

April 11, 2023 – Eighteen Down – Two to Go

I accomplished two frets in the present day, for a complete of 18 accomplished. I simply have two extra to do.

April 12, 2023 – One Extra to Go

I used to be very busy with different issues, so I solely had a few hours to work. Due to this fact I solely acquired one fret achieved.

Tomorrow, Inshallah I might be completed.

April 13, 2023 – An Uneasy End

I’m reminded of that saying, “The perfect laid plans of mice and males typically go awry.”

However, Mousie, thou artwork no thy lane
In proving foresight could also be useless:
The perfect laid schemes o’ mice an’ males
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought however grief an’ ache
For promis’d pleasure.

Robert Burns 1759-1796

I assumed that I might have an easy time in the present day. In spite of everything, I solely had one fret to do. Sadly, this was to not be the case.

I spent about an hour-and-a-half making a fret. Sadly, within the final step of becoming it, I broke it.

Damaged fret

It was now time to maneuver on to “Plan B”, I began work on one other one. Sadly, very early on, I broke this one as nicely.

Oh nicely – “Plan C” was a no brainer. I might simply make one other one; however there was an issue. I had no extra brass rods upon which to work. I had some on-order, however a fast referral to the web confirmed that it was not anticipated to come back till Monday. This was solely Friday.

I used to be drained and annoyed, and determined to take a break and go for a bicycle experience. Throughout the experience, it occurred to me that I ought to do one thing. It’s an endeavor that for the reason that daybreak of mankind, folks have used to clear the thoughts, and impart an influence of perception worthy of a deity.

I’m after all referring to tacos and beer.

After partaking of the “Meals of the Gods”, the reply to my drawback was clear. I might return to my private storage of frets, seize one of many bigger ones, lower it right down to dimension, and vogue a fret from it. Due to this fact, I might not have to attend till Monday to complete the sitar.

I did, and this final fret nearly completed the instrument; however not fairly.

I needed to cope with the worn bridge. The correct plan of action can be an entire jawari work. However I used to be drained; I’ve been engaged on this for six weeks. Due to this fact, I took a shortcut. I put two new notches on the bridge, a mere 3 mm from the prevailing ones. This moved the strings out of their excessively worn grooves, and right into a recent space of the bridge. (I feel that each sitarist is accustomed to this trick.) It could not have been a sublime option to cope with the issue; nevertheless it labored like a attraction. The sound is now vivid and open.

New notches in bridge

I made one final spherical of checking the tuning pegs to see that their motion was good. Every time I felt one thing wasn’t fairly proper, slightly consideration with the wooden rasp fastened it.

That’s it. The Psychedelic Electrical Sitar is completed.

The psychedelic electrical sitar is completed

(p.s. The brass rods got here within the mail after the sitar was completed.)

Source Link

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

2022 Blinking Robots.
WordPress by Doejo

Scroll To Top