Q: Where are sitars made?A: There are sitar makers all over North India. The biggest concentration of quality makers is in Calcutta. Rikhi Ram, of course, is in Delhi. There are good makers in Varanasi, Pune and Miraj.
Q: Are these synthetic bridges as good as the originals?A: Synthetic bridges are now a fact of life. Horn, the preferred traditional material, is getting hard to find. The government of Bengal has banned its use for such things as instrument making. Makers in Calcutta hoard whatever supplies they can get. There are a variety of synthetic [...]
Q: What materials are used for the main bridge?A: Traditionally the best bridges are made from horn (deer antler). Bone is a cheaper option, but bone bridges are harder and don't give as sweet a tone. Nowadays horn has become increasingly hard to get. In fact, the government of West Bengal has made it all but impossible [...]
Q: What is Jawari?A: The characteristic buzzing sound of a sitar or tanpura is produced by the string vibrating on a flat bridge with a gently curved surface. "Jawari" literally means "glimmering" or "jewel-like". The art of jawari is the shape, the angle, and the curve of the angle at which the bridge is filed. How much [...]
Q: What difference does the upper tumba make?A: The upper tumba can be made of a natural gourd or from wood spun on a lathe like a wooden bowl. It adds some volume to the sitar, especially for the bass strings. It easily screws in and out so it can be taken off for transport (i.e if [...]
Q: What do the terms "Kharaj Pancham" and "Gandhar Pancham" mean?A: "Kharaj Pancham" refers to the Maihar style sitars. They have the two bass strings - Low Pa (Pancham) and low Sa (Kharaj). "Gandhar Pancham" refers to the Imdadkhani style sitars. They are usually strung with an extra chikari string usually tuned to Ga (Gandhar).
Q: What are the differences between Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan style sitars?A: The main difference is that the former have two extra bass strings (Low Pa and Low Sa) thus giving them an extra bass octave. There is some dispute about the where and when of this innovation, but it is usually attributed to Allaudin Khan, [...]
Q: Who are the main sitar players I should listen to?A: There are many great sitar players in India and around the world. Most people consider three musicians, Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan and Nikhil Banerjee to be the pivotal sitarists of the last half of the 20th century. Sitar playing, like Indian classical music in general, [...]
Q: Can you tell me who are the Six Male Ragas in the North Indian Classical Music system?A: The Six Male Ragas in the North Indian Classical Music system are Bhairav, Malkauns, Hindol, Deepak, Megh and Shree.
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