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Thread: Sitar/piano similarities?

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    Senior Member Ciel_Rouge's Avatar
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    Default Sitar/piano similarities?

    Over the time I feel I can sense some similarity between the sitar and the piano. One is string based and the other has strings hit by objects, but still their richness, resonance, variety of pitch, loudness and duration etc. seem to be remotely similar. What is more, both are rather complex, with capability built up over time by various improvements to make the sound even more complex. Certainly one comes from non-western and the other from western classical, the sitar is much older and may have evolved for a much longer period of time, but still there is something "there" I guess. I would highly appreciate any comments by people with extensive knowledge about one or the other so that I could be more certain whether my gut feeling makes any sense at all...

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    How do you relate an instrument with sympathetic drones and no fixed notes to an instrument like the piano?
    maybe it`s because I am coming at it from the standpoint of a player.
    I have played both & believe me neither sound nor technique are related.

    I`d be looking at the harp and maybe the harpsichord where it is possible to bend notes slightly, even if it is frowned upon in the best circles.
    Even a guitar is more organised than a sitar, which for me is happy mayhem with strings.
    And as for traditional indian song structures......!!!!!
    Takes some getting you rheard round

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    Senior Member Ciel_Rouge's Avatar
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    Finally a reply to my idea... Well, maybe we could start with the fact that many musical pieces are easily transcribed from the piano to the classical guitar and the other way round. And for me the classical guitar is sort of like a "much simplified version" of the sitar, with the latter being far richer in resonance and with a hugely superior range of possible sounds If what I say still does not make any sense to you at all, try listening to some flamenco played simultanously on the guitar and the sitar by Indialucia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zReP1...eature=related

    Now try Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata played on a guitar:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15ps-H4KtBg

    And finally, last but not least, Beethoven's Moonlight played on sitar:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaWi63d6ABA

    They are all strings - regardless whether touched by fingers or little moving hammers

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    The real big difference between the sitar and most other stringed fretted instruments and of course the piano is that the notes are not fixed.
    Whilst you can bend notes to a degree on a guitar and to a lesser extent on a harpsichord (I know - there is a posse comitus of harpsichord lovers on their way here to lynch me!) the sitar is by its very nature designed so that all notes can be bent all over the place - part of the instrument`s charm.

    The history of bending notes atonally in Western music is very brief compared with the same tradition in asian and oriental music. Not sure why.

    If you look at a sitar, the frets are actually curved metal bars designed to float well above the fingerboard.
    You don`t actually touch the fingerboard at all when you play.
    This is in order that the player can apply large string bends at will.
    The other fun part is that because the "frets" are only bound in place you can adjust the scale that they cover to accomodate what you want to play.
    A bit like the early guitars before metal frets and after fretless.
    They had bits of gut tied round the neck to make the frets.
    and none of them have sympathetic tuneable drone strings like a sitar.

    Had a listen to your examples and sort of see what you are getting at but I think that is more a question of the particular piece you cite being a simple, clean and memorable melody that would translate well onto just about any instrument.
    I can imagine M.S> being done by a string quartet or a brass band and still working O.K.
    What an awful thought - Ely Silver Band massacre`ing Moonlight Sonata.
    Next one would be the Les Dawson/Eric Morecambe version........
    Last edited by Mr. Terrible; Oct-21-2008 at 09:17.

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    Senior Member Ciel_Rouge's Avatar
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    Thank you for a thorough explanation. I suppose we can perfectly understand each other's point now.

    However, the "massacre" can go both directions - how about Vedres Csaba and the Kairosz quartet playing "Toxicity" by System of a Down I love their performance - in my opinion it is better than the original And please note that the lowest tones of electric guitars were replaced by... a piano:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BorYwGi2SJc

    And here is the original:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJmt3dr9XYQ

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    I love anything that brings disparate elements of the music scene together.
    Too much antagonism bred from ignorance imo.
    I get a lot of resistance to both orchestral Jazz AND C&W on other forums, almost exclusively down to people never bothering to acvtually listen to the genres they knock.

    I admit I used to be a C&W hater till I moved to Nashville, then I heard the other 99% of country I had not been exposed to and realised there were some great writers and performers in the fenre.

    Have to admit System of a Down is not really my cup of meat, but I found the 2 versions interesting.

    Re: The massacre, I am seriously looking at a "Christmas Claissics in the Les Dawson Style" album - K-Tel are already showing signs of interest.

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