Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar

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Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar

The Sweet and Mellifluous Esraj

kishore_bhakta Senior Member
kishore_bhakta
kishore_bhakta

Joined: 27 June 2005
Posts: 505

Posted: 20 March 2006 at 6:55pm | IP Logged

Greetings friends.

I am gonna talk a bit about the instrument called esraj.

The esraj is one of the rarely recognized instruments in today's world. People hear the esraj, but they don't realize that it is there. The esraj comes from the Bengali word "anshuronjoni." The esraj found its advent around the time the harems took up to singing and performing musical shows, as well as the brahmana class wanting to accompany singers.

At the time, the only choice of instruments for them to play were sarangi and sitar. The sarangi's string were made of goat gut. The playing mechanism of sarangi requires one to insert the string between the fingernail and the flesh of the fingertip. Sliding up and down across such raw hide is difficult to create accurate pitch, not to mention how painful it is. The sitar was no less in difficulty and pain as the sarangi, for its large learning curve. Both of these instruments produced disfiguring fingers and causing ugly calluses to form.

As a result, musical engineers in West India invented a hybrid between sitar and sarangi and called it dilruba. The sarangi's characteristic sound was retained, but the strings were main of metal which required the use of fingertips, not fingernails, to play this. There were frets located to help identify where the notes are.

The sarangi also found its clash with the brahmana, or the priest class, of India. The brahmanas found it unclean to touch a dead animal's guts. As a result, in Eastern parts of India, the union of the sarangi, sarinda, and sitar formed an instrument called the esraj. Rabindranath Tagore loved this instrument and wanted to have this instrument accompany him for his songs.

Even though this started as a folk instrument, it eventually gained reputation as a classical instrument. The most famous prodigies of this instrument were the late Ud. Allaudin Khan (father of Ud. Ali Akbar Khan) and the late Pt. Randhir Roy. Pt. Randhir Roy was the one who took this instrument to great hights. He added more strings, an upper tumba, and a bigger body for a more richer sound. After his passing away in 1988, the esraj was a fun instrument to try out, but no real prodigies ever came again of the esraj.

Here is a picture of me playing the esraj.

http://www.india-forums.com/uploads/kishorebhakta/2006-03-20 _190622_side_esraj.jpg



Edited by kishore_bhakta - 20 March 2006 at 7:08pm

kishore_bhakta Senior Member
kishore_bhakta
kishore_bhakta

Joined: 27 June 2005
Posts: 505

Posted: 20 March 2006 at 7:09pm | IP Logged

Originally posted by adwarakanath

Thanks a lot for this post, Bhaktada!

Now I can imagine why the Sarangi was gradually replaced by the dumb Harmonium and it's players are dying out.

I heard Salilda was a great player of the Esraj.

I can't see any pic Ouch

All I use harmonium for is a good pitch tool and use it in some songs. The rest is left by esraj.

I never knew Salilda played esraj.

sweety001 IF-Dazzler
sweety001
sweety001

Joined: 03 November 2005
Posts: 3137

Posted: 20 March 2006 at 7:12pm | IP Logged
thank you this is a great post!!!! sorry but i cannot see the pic... Cry but ya i think ive heard of the esraj but its not used very often....and yes i thought that the harmonium shouldn't have replaced the sarangi either! Wink
kishore_bhakta Senior Member
kishore_bhakta
kishore_bhakta

Joined: 27 June 2005
Posts: 505

Posted: 20 March 2006 at 7:18pm | IP Logged
I put a link so you can view the pic.

I have differing opinions on harmonium. I think the harmonium is a great tool to teach Indian music. As well as an introductory tool, it is really helpful. Imagine if there was no keyboarded instrument, it would be difficult to teach the simple foundations of Indian music on sarangi or sitar (because of the moveable frets).

The harmonium, has a great lack of ornamentation, and all it can do is be a portable accompanying instrument that does not loose its tuning. I would be the blessed person in the world if I could find a female singer, a great tabla player, and a sarangi/esraj player to help me.

(sighs). Almost everyone will be willing to accompany you with a harmonium and dholak! LOL Not necessarily with tabla or sarangi.
kishore_bhakta Senior Member
kishore_bhakta
kishore_bhakta

Joined: 27 June 2005
Posts: 505

Posted: 20 March 2006 at 7:21pm | IP Logged
Speaking of MD's playing instruments...

There is a song in the film "Lamhe." It's a Lata-Hariharan duet "Kabhi main kahoon." In that recording, you will hear the first interlude has Pt. Shivkumar Sharma playing a melody with the help of his drone strings that creates a haunting feel, and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia playing the flute in a very "hip Western/Indian" style. I always rewind and play that interlude again and again, as I like to hear that a lot!
kishore_bhakta Senior Member
kishore_bhakta
kishore_bhakta

Joined: 27 June 2005
Posts: 505

Posted: 20 March 2006 at 7:26pm | IP Logged

Originally posted by adwarakanath

He put me in the Harmonium group. He started with the Raag Bhairav and sang it, and told us to play. We were wondering...how the hell does he expect us to play the meend on this damned thing? Ouch

By the end of the year, I was the only one left with the Harmonium...everyone else had shifted to the Synth or the Drums LOL

LOL

Even better, how in the world will you play that flattened komal ga with andolan in Raga Darbari??

kishore_bhakta Senior Member
kishore_bhakta
kishore_bhakta

Joined: 27 June 2005
Posts: 505

Posted: 20 March 2006 at 7:28pm | IP Logged

Originally posted by Iron

Good to know about this. Was not aware of it though. My kid in 3rd grader had a lesson on different instruments used in the world and they had to select one and write about it...She selected Instrument of India and the one they talk about in the book was ghatak..(Picture of a Gar=gri in a broden way made by khumhars (Pot makers ) called gadda and in description also said that it was a clay pot. I was surprised that among all the amazing instruments we have they selected this in the elementary class???? Or was it a popular instrument in the past..I didn't know so just curious if KB ji u know and i was ignorant.

In Carnatic music, there is an instrument called the ghatam. It is an earthen clay pot used to produce a wide range of sounds. You will hear it quite frequently in Carnatic classical and in film music.

Listen to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the theme song has this instrument in there.

kishore_bhakta Senior Member
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Joined: 27 June 2005
Posts: 505

Posted: 20 March 2006 at 7:32pm | IP Logged
Dang! The torture on the harmonium to play that komal re + Pa meend in Sri beats your torture of Bhairava meend and my komal ga andol in Darbari. Kya baat hai! Swar-peti yani baaj-peti ki jaya! Clap

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