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Learning the Sitar Book/CD Set [Paperback]

David Courtney

List Price: CDN$ 24.99
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Book Description

June 6 2011

The sitar has been popular since the 1960s. Since that time it has always had a considerable mystique among musicians. It also has an undeserved reputation for being difficult to play. This book/CD set cuts though the mystique and misapprehensions and presents the material in a simple fashion that is easily understood both by Indians and non-Indian musicians alike.

Learning the Sitar begins with basic background information, including a discussion of Indian music, the history of the instrument, the parts and other important terms It then moves on to basic exercises and finally finishes with some simple compositions in Bilawal, Kalyan and Kafi. This is covered in a mix of staff notation as well as traditional Indian Sargam notation.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 84 pages
  • Publisher: Mel Bay Publications, Inc.; Pap/Com edition (June 6 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786670614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786670611
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 22.9 x 30.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #524,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but Very Basic Introduction for a Begninner March 10 2012
By drutgat - Published on Amazon.com
I wholeheartedly agree with StevenDvd's review - if you are a complete beginner, and have nobody who is familiar with Hindustani (North Indian) Classical Music to teach you, then this book is a good, but very basic and modest introduction to playing sitar.

A move 'up' - and one which will keep the beginner busy for a long time, is the 'sitar manual' part of Pandit Ravi Shankar's book 'My Music, My Life'.

In my opinion, a good complement to Panditji's book is Ustad Ali Akbar Khan's 'Classical Music of North India the First Years of Study: The Music of the Baba Allauddin Gharana As Taught by Ali Akbar Khan at the Ali Akbar College of Music'. This book, edited by George Ruckert, provides a very thorough, and easy to understand explanation, history, and contextualization of the complicated subject of North Indian Classical music, in addition to providing musical instruction (the musical instruction in this book is of a 'general' nature, from a vocal music perspective, rather than discussing any particular instrument).

I would advise neophytes to stay clear of Manfred Junius's 'The Sitar The Instrument and Its Technique',unless they are looking for detailed advice on how to do jawari for the sitar, as this book provides little to no musical instruction.

S. Bandyopadhyaya's 'Techniques of sitar: The prince among all musical instruments of India', is an exhaustive, quite complicated treatise on sitar playing which is devoid of much of the context that those new to Hindustani Classical Music in general, and sitar playing in particular would probably need to understand the context for many of the lessons and discussions therein.

Those who are new to Indian Classical Music could learn a lot from the forms on the website run by David Courtney (co-author Of 'Mel Bay Presents Learning the Sitar'), and his wife Chandrakantha, which can be found at [...] (this is just the beginners part of this website, and there are other parts designed to cater to those who are more experienced).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Typical Mel Bay book April 4 2011
By StephenDvd - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Anyone who has used Mel Bay instructional books for other instruments (e.g. Guitar) will be familiar with the layout and approach of this book.

After buying this book, I had some friends tell me it was a waste of money. Well, I will admit some of the exercises are simple and you could probably figure them out yourself without the book. On the other hand, the exercises are fun and help you become familiar with the Sitar layout and some basic techniques.

But there are important concepts/techniques that aren't covered at all in the book. For example, there does not appear to be any discussion of Mir/Meend. That is the technique used for playing microtones and the deep note bending that gives the Sitar one of its distinctive sounds.

Leaving out important techniques like this is one big reason why I only give this 3 stars.

It really isn't too bad a book for a beginning sitar player, assuming you don't have a local teacher. (and that is very common in the U.S.)

If you have a teacher, or have some basic knowledge/experience with Sitar, this book would probably not be worth purchasing.

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