Another Lens

Thoughts and Observations in India

Sitar!!! January 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — anotherlens @ 3:29 am

Prepare for an onslaught of awesome like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I’m the owner of a new, cherry sitar with some sort of white mineral inlay (neither me, nor my instrumentally knowledgeable friend know what it is). Anyways, it’s beautiful. I hope to be able to do more than look at it by the time I’m done here, and when that time comes, so will video performances. Eek! And now for pictures:

The fabled sitar. I plan on naming it after I get to know it a little better. I like to think it's a girl, and that we will someday fight the patriarchy with our Awesomeness. She will have an Indian name.

The fabled sitar. I plan on naming it after I get to know it a little better. I like to think it's a girl, and that we will someday fight the musical patriarchy with our Awesomeness. She will have an Indian name.

The detailing with the unknown mineral I mentioned. It's beautiful. You can't really tell from this angle, but the bottom of the sitar is quite huge. It's got some junk in its trunk. It's also the most fragile part.

The detailing with the unknown mineral I mentioned. It's beautiful. You can't really tell from this angle, but the bottom of the sitar is quite huge. It's got some junk in its trunk. It's also the most fragile part. The thing at the bottom appears to be just ornamental. It's a white bird.

Look at all of those knobs. I didn't count on my sitar, but sitars can typically have between 21-23 strings depending on the style, a top set (of six or seven) of playable strings and a bottom set that resonate with the vibration of the top set, creating the unique sitar sound. Each of them is tunable. Yeesh.

Look at all of those knobs. I didn't count on my sitar, but sitars can typically have between 21-23 strings depending on the style, a top set (of six or seven) of playable strings and a bottom set that resonate with the vibration of the top set, creating the unique sitar sound. Each of them is tunable. Yeesh.

Here's some detail of the strings and frets--which you'll notice are concave over the fretboard. Weird. The second set of strings are just barely visable below the frets. You'll also notice that the frets appear to be held down with--among other things--string.

Here's some detail of the strings and frets--which you'll notice are concave over the fretboard. Weird. The second set of strings are just barely visable below the frets. You'll also notice that the frets appear to be held down with--among other things--string.

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4 Responses to “Sitar!!!”

  1. Matt Click Says:

    What a crazy looking instrument! It’s so beautiful. I’m going to have nightmares in which I have to restring a sitar — I imagine it would be a week-long process. Very, very cool, Jess. Can’t wait to see it in action.

  2. Lori Ritchie Says:

    It’s really pretty Jess. Hopefully when you come home you’ll be able to play something that we’ll be able to tell what it is…We miss you!!!

  3. Ana Says:

    That is beautiful! Nice choice 🙂

    That’s crazy that the sitar has 21-23 tuning knobs! Hopefully, it’s not as complex as it might appear and you get more joy out of it than tuning angst.

  4. Carleton Says:

    Just so you know, the little swan on the top string is a tuning swan. The pegs of a sitar are difficult to fine tune with, so when the string is tuned up you can move the swan backward toward the back of the sitar to raise the pitch of the string. On most sitars the main strings all have a bead of some sort to aid in fine tuning. The Swan is the symbol for the goddess Saraswati who is the goddess of knowledge, music and the arts.
    Oh and the “mineral” you are talking about is Celluloid. Most people mistakingly call it Ivory, but it is just celluloid. The makers can etch designs into it and then fill the etched lines with a colored wax to create those great sitar decorations.

    I have a growing collection now of vintage sitars by the greatest makers of all time.
    Here are a few of mine.

    This super freaking awesome vintage monster sitar is a 1973 Burma Teak made by Kanai Lal. 
    Kanai Lal was the greatest indian instrument maker ever. 
    http://gallery.mac.com/carletonroyds#100197

    This one is a 1980 Burma Teak sitar made by Hiren Roy. 
    Hiren Roy was the greatest sitar maker after Kanai Lal. 
    This one has an amazing sound. Really bright and clear.
    http://gallery.mac.com/carletonroyds#100189

    This one is a 1963 Teak sitar made by Naskar. 
    Naskar was a really good maker of fine sitars. 
    This one is not as fine as the other two, but is still really good.
    http://gallery.mac.com/carletonroyds#100104

    Anyhoo, hope you take the time to learn to play the sitar correctly. It is a very satisfying instrument to play.


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