Feedzilla: Classical Music News

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The sitar is a stringed instrument popularly used in Indian classical music.It generates its resonance from sympathetic strings, a long hollow neck and a gourd resonating chamber. 

It has a series of 20 curved frets which are movable thus allowing fine tuning and raised so that sympathetic strings also known as "taarif" or "tarafdaar" can run underneath them. 

The sitar has 21, 22, or 23 metal strings out of which 6 or 7 are playing strings running above the frets and 13 sympathetic resonating strings below. 3 or 4 of these are called the "chikaari" and simply provide a drone. The rest are used to play the melody. The first string called the "bajtaaris" is most used.

The sitar has two bridges. The large bridge called the "badaa goraa" is for the playing and drone strings and the small bridge called the "chota goraa" is for the sympathetic strings.

The sitars timbre or tone results from interaction of the strings with the sloping bridge. As a string reverberates its length changes a bit as its edge touches the bridge. This promotes the generation of overtones and thus gives the sitar its distinctive tone.

The neck and face plate are made from teak wood and the bridges are made from deer horn, ebony, or sometimes from camel bone. Synthetic material is now commonly used. The sitar may have a secondary resonator called the "tumbaa" near the top of its hollow neck.Ravi Shankar is a renowned master of the Indian sitar and it is because of him that the sitar became known to the west. In 1966 Beatles guitarist George Harrison studied with him and later played the sitar on the famous Beatles song "Norwegian Wood".

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Tabla is a very popular two piece Indian percussion instrument. It is the primary accompaniment to most North Indian classical called khyal and light music.

The term 'tabla is derived from an Arabic word “tabl” which simply means "drum."
It is said to have its origin in the two-faced drum called the mridangam and the pakhawaj.

It consists of of a small right hand drum and a larger left hand drum. Each drum sits on a ringed base of padding. It is played with fingers and palms. 

The smaller drum which is conical in shape is called tabla or Dayan. It is made of hollow rose or oak wood. The top of the drum is covered with a layered leather membrane which is stretched and held in place by leather braces. The tension in the braces is adjusted by the wooden pegs between the braces and the drum which controls the pitch of the instrument. 

The larger drum which is round is called the doggy or the bayan.It has a body consisting of either clay or metal. The top is covered with a leather membrane held with thongs. The baya which has a bigger size than the daya provides the bass. 

The most striking characteristic of the tabla is the large black spot on each of the playing surfaces. These black spots are a mixture of gum, soot, and iron filings.  Their function is to create the bell-like timbre that is characteristic of the instrument.

The index, third, and fourth fingers as well as the palm and heel of the hand are used to strike the surface of the drums to generate the treble and low bass tones that make up the tabla percussion notes. Combined, the dayan and bayan, can produce an extraordinary array of sounds and rhythms.
Best of tablas are still hand made by skilled craftsmen.
Legendary tabla players from India are Alla Rakha and his son Zakir Hussain.
Keshava is a seven-year-old tabla player.His  performance at the Commonwealth Games 2010 opening ceremony dazzled the capacity crowd of 60,000.