Sitar : introduction



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The correct posture for playing the sitar is referred to as the ‘half-lotus position’.

Cross the right leg over the left. Place the gourd on the sole of the left foot.

Apply pressure on the gourd using the right forearm to keep the sitar firmly positioned against the right thigh.

We don’t need the hold the sitar with the left hand if we apply sufficient pressure with the right forearm.

A gourd makes up the sitar’s hollow body.

The top portion is made of wood to cover the gourd.

This is called the bridge. And these are frets. Below, we have the strings and the tarab strings to enhance the resonance and enrich the overall sound.

Whenever we strike the main strings, the strings below vibrate on the same frequency.

It is important that they are tuned to the correct note.

To play the Sitar, we strike with the right hand.

We wear a plectrum which is called ‘mizrab’.

It Is generally worn on the index finger.

The thumb should be fixed and sit on the bridge's edge, close to the chikari strings.

In sitar, we basically have two fundamental strokes, da and ra.

Da is struck toward you, while Ra is struck away from you.

When the two strokes are played together, it is called di ri.

Let’s play da di ri di ri di ri, da di ri, da ra. Now let’s play a little faster.

Maintain the same strumming pattern and play different notes by sliding the left index finger on the different frets.

Now let’s play da di ri di ri di ri, da ra da ra, da.

Let’s play a little faster. Maintain the same strumming pattern while you play the different notes.

With the left hand we play the notes by sliding over the frets.

There are 19 frets altogether. Some sitars do have an extra fret.

To play the notes, the index finger is positioned behind the different frets.

Make sure the index finger is positioned just behind the frets.

If you place the index finger on the fret, the sound will be muffled.

We also use the middle finger to come back to the lower note.

For example, if we want to play two notes back and forth (sa re sa).

In this case, we will use both the index finger and the middle finger.

Now let’s play five notes continuously (sa re ga re sa).

Note that we use the middle finger to come back.

Note that the index finger should not be lifted when you move from one fret to another.

Instead, you should slide your fingers to play different notes.

Otherwise, you will produce a staccato sound.

Another note is that you shouldn’t strain your neck to observe your finger positioning.

Instead, judge the position of the index finger based on the thumb.

The thumb should be positioned behind and aligned with the index finger.

Your left thumb should be pressed against the back of the bridge.

To minimize friction and pain we apply oil on the index and middle fingers.

Initially it is normal that it is painful, but once you’ve developed a callus, it doesn’t hurt anymore.

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