Friday, 18 December 2009

Sitar Workshops in Primary Schools

Workshop format

• Looking at the instrument; the materials used to construct and the
function of the two sets of strings.
• A brief history; origins of the sitar
• Listening to part of a 'raga', a melody within a modal structure, followed
by feedback from the children.
• Learning how to count in cycles to a raga.
• Introducing the concept of music being taught with no written form, every
aspect being learnt through imitation and repetition.
• Demonstrating composition and improvisation.
• Understanding about the sitar's resonance and tuning.
• Recognising the three different stages of the raga; 'alap', 'jor', and

The children will learn to sing each note of an Indian scale by name.
They will become familiar with the sliding notes and nuances.
They will be assessed on their learning with a question and answer session identifying combinations of notes and rhythms.
The students will be asked to make a simple drawing of the instrument whilst listening to an extract of sitar played on CD.

One hour workshop: £50.00
Two [one hour] workshops: £90.00
Three [one hour] workshops: £140.00

Contact Details:

Daniel ‘Peters’ Perskawiec
mobile: +447716288260

When bundled with
other Indian/Multicultural workshops

Nisha Tandon (Project Manager)
Tel: 028 9023 1381 or 07736 243 348

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Brief Story of the Sitar

The sitar is a plucked string instrument that uses sympathetic strings and a long hollow neck along with a gourd resonating chamber in order to produce a very rich musical sound along with a complex harmonic resonance. The Sitar is predominantly used in Hindustani classical music, but has been used in other styles of music since as far back as the Middle Ages. This instrument is one that has been used all throughout the Indian sub continent, particularly in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
One of the most distinctive features of the sitar are its curved frets which can all be moved which allows for a fine variation in tuning. They are also raised which allows the sympathetic strings to run beneath the frets. A typical sitar can have 21, 22 or 23 strings depending on the specific style of the sitar. Among these strings are six or seven that are playable and situated directly over the frets. Gandhar-pancham sitars have six playable strings, but Khadaj-pancham sitars have seven playable strings. Three or four of these strings, known as chikari, provide the drone while the other strings on the sitar play the melody.

Most of the melody's notes are played on the first string, which is called the baj tar. There are also between eleven and sixteen sympathetic strings also known as tarbs, tariff or tarifdar, which run beneath the frets.
The sitar instrument has two different bridges. The main bridge is known as the bada goraj and is used for playing and the drone strings. There is also a smaller, secondary bridge known as the chota goraj, which is used for the sympathetic strings running underneath the primary strings. The sitar can have a secondary resonator though it does not always have this resonator which is known as a tumba and located at the top of the instrument's hollow neck. The sitar creates a distinctive sound that is a result of the way each string interacts with the wide and sloping bridge. In a sitar, when a string reverberates, its length can change just slightly as its edges touch against the bridge, which is capable of creating overtones which gives the sound a tone that is distinctive and rich. The maintenance of this very specific tone comes by shaping the bridge, a process known as jawari. Adjusting the jawari is something that requires a great amount of skill, and as a result, even professional musicians often have to rely upon the professional instrument crafters to perform these particular tasks. Many Sitar players tour with their sitar makers simply so they can insure that their instruments are always properly adjusted and tuned.

The materials that are most commonly used to construct sitar instruments include tun wood or teak wood, which is a variation upon standard mahogany for the neck and the faceplate. Gourds are used for the Kaddu, the main resonating chamber. The bridges of the instrument are crafted from ebony, deer horn or camel bone in certain circumstances. Today many modern, synthetic materials are also becoming common.