Sunday, December 6, 2009

Counting Beats, Taals, Tihais, Chakkardars

Are you often Lost at an Indian Classical Music recital? Do you wish you could understand why so many people love the millions of great Indian Classical Music videos on YouTube ?

From my experience, many people get impatient with themselves when they listen to Indian Classical Music because they don’t understand what’s going on.

It’s actually very easy to understand if you ask the right people.
Even if you have NO clue about the technicalities of what Raag is being played, I think you can thoroughly enjoy a performance if you can follow the beat.
I know that’s how I started.

There's a workshop available if you ...
  • want to understand how Taals work in the Indian system of music
  • as a listener, want to be able to count the beats so you know what’s going on – you’ll enjoy all the Indian Classical Music concerts you attend from now on because you can follow the beat. You’ll appreciate the millions of Indian Classical Music videos on Youtube much much more.
  • easily learn to count the more complex cycles – like Vilambit (VERY slow) ektaal… and beats with fractions like “10 3/4 (10.75) beats” —– apply the same concepts when you listen to any other Vilambit taal or other cycles with 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 fractions.
  • Learn how Tihais and Chakkardaars work so you can enjoy them more
  • and Finally: learn a very simple system for creating your own Tihais
Everything in the workshop will be explained it to you in a way that’s straightforward, practical, and simplified as much as it can be.

It's available on

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Relaxing Tune in Raag Megh

Heard from a pretty old tape of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Gambhir singing the Shabad: "Vin Bolia Sabh Kich Jaanda Kis Aagai Keechai Ardaas?"

Sorry - not Title Raag though.

I love this tune, especially when playing/singing it and thinking of what the words mean - It's so relaxing that it gives me goosebumps.

Find it here .

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Raag Darbari (Mishr) - Simar Mana Raam Naam Chitare

it took several mistakes before it started flowing ..

often heard sung by Bhai Niranjan Singh Jawaddi Kalan Wale .

Mishr Darbari
14 beat

good Practice

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bhoopali at a World Music Festival

Ajarn* Maiya Singh Ji was invited to play at the "Rhythm of the Earth" world music festival - at Central World , Bangkok - May 2008.

Satpal Singh Ji (Ustadji's nephew) is on Tabla.
the Thai word for "Teacher"/"Ustad" is Ajarn - pronounced aa-charn

Raag Bhoopali - Tintaal




Kindly excuse my playing - looking back at the video: I think my playing took more away from the music than it did add ... oh well - we had zero practice as a group before the event, so I shouldn't beat myself up about it too much eh?
Ustadji and Satpal Singh were awesome though!
We were initially given 1 hour stage time and were planning to play Raag Yaman. On the day, we were requested to cut it down to 20 mins due to various time constraints. Ustadji wanted to switch to Bhoopali, thinking that it would be easier for an audience unaccustomed to Classical Indian Music to digest and enjoy. my opinion: Good Decision !

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tanti Saaz workshop in Birmingham, UK

I wish I could be there to join in the fun :)


Ustaad Surjeet Singh (student of the world famous Pt Ram Narayan) and grand-teacher of the Gurmat Sangeet Academy is leading a one day intensive strings workshop in Birmingham on Sunday 1st of June.
If you would like to improve your Taus/ Dilruba/ Esraaj or Sarangi skills, then this is the workshop to attend. All abilities will be catered for.

The workshop will run from 10am to 4pm and will cater for all abilities. The fee for the day will be £10 (£6 for concs.).

For more details, email

Friday, May 2, 2008

Dhol Experiment

* You play tabla reasonably well
* You have a dhol handy - preferably one with a Plastic/Synthetic Skin on the Bass side.

* Put some Atta on the Bass Side - you'll have to experiment with quantity of Atta vs resulting tonal quality.

* try playing with your hands - Phakawaj style
* If you know Khuley Bol - Perfect ! if not .. check out some videos on youtube and pretend ! :)
* also pls try playing some basic thekas - tintal , kaherva , rupak , dadra etc.

The thing is - I KNOW that it will sound good .. but am unable experiment for myself due to no-dhol-at-home syndrome.
About a year ago, I had to play dholki for one of my sister's wedding functions - It sounded horrible. I put a fistful of atta on the bass side, and the moisture sort of crept in and caused the skin to loosen, wrinkle up and sound like a wet blanket when hit.
I then cleaned off the Atta, wiped the skin thoroughly and waited 10 mins for it to dry. Once it was back to normal, I put a tiny bit of atta back on it. (the circle was about as big as the tip of my thumb - yep that's it .. very small.) Worked great !

So kindly try it out, and post some videos :)

Thank you.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Student Esraj Prototype: Sound Check + Instrument test

An Esraj for students / beginners .
Prototype #2.
Made by a friend.
(#1 is with him)

Sound Check + Instrument test.

actually made for a private conversation btwn the creator and myself , but its here because I haven't posted in a while.

the tune i'm TRYING to play is Saach Kaho Sun Leho Sabai in Raag Bihag , heard from recordings of Bhai Avtar Singh ji.

other than that it's not in any coherent raag.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Beachside Bhimpalasi

I've been working on putting together a few relaxing sounding tracks of Ustadji playing his Esraj (without the TarShehnai attachment) . I requested that he reduce the very energetic Tihais and Gamaks so the music sounds chilled out.

I will then add some layers to the sound to make it sound nicer.

I've managed to upload the first one to myspace. Do check it out and let me know what you think - it's the first track " Beachside Bhimpalasi 10beat "

Once I'm happy with about 4 tracks , I'll make them available for download as a set (free) - If anyone's interested.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

So Kim Manas Roop Kahaye - tune

Free Esraj Music MP3

Recording of Me attempting to play the tune for "So Kim Manas Roop Kahaye" (right click and choose (SAVE LINK AS))- composition heard sung by Bhai Baljeet Singh / Bhai Gurmeet Singh . This is another one of my all time favorite compositions - Find it and buy it if you don't have it. The original is AMAZING to listen to.

Raag Alhaiya Bilawal

Taal supposed to be Tintaal - Punjabi Theka - but I'm not exactly playing according to any beat. Was more focused on getting the Expression to match my memory of Bhai Baljeet Singh / Bhai Gurmeet Singh's version.
I'm pretty sure I can play it in beat too , I'll just have to record myself playing tabla for 10 mins and play it back while playing Dilruba.

I made a few mistakes here and there , and my ending is clearly the wrong Raag ;) but hey - I'm still sorta happy with it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Awesome old Picture

A Friend found this beautiful image in an old book on World Music.

Starting from left:

1st guy is holding an Esraj. Looks like there are no sympathetics. And there seem to be sound holes on the top section of the sound-box as well. very interesting ...

2nd guy's instrument looks to be a Sitar.

3rd guy's looks like a Veena - although I am not certain.

4th guy is holding a Taus. Doesnt look like the ones you see nowadays - but very cool nonetheless.
Posted by Picasa

with Bhai Sahib Gurmit Singh Shant and Jatha
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Monday, January 28, 2008

More of Bhai Gurmit Singh Shant

Recorded at my place , 16th Jan 2008.

I requested him to sing only "Vadde Taal"
He actually told me the names of the Taals later on, but I didn't write them down and therefore forgot them. If he visits your city - ask him - and let me know :)

Raag Basant - 15 beat .. Meanings: Basant Chariya Phooli Banraee

Raag Dhanasri - 18 beat .. Meanings: Har Charan Sharan Gobind Dukh Bhanjana
Right Click and choose SAVE AS to download the files !
** Update on 22/Feb/2008 ** I was sharply reprimanded by a friend about the above recording. Apparently it's Raag Bhimpalasi, not Raag Dhanasri.
I asked "what's the difference?"
I was told "Bhimpalasi = Madhyam is Vadi .. and Dhanasri = Pancham is Vadi "
I actually thought " errrr ... ok .. I'm still not going to be able to tell the difference . " but said " theek eh ... If you insist - I'll mention it"

Raag Kaliyaan - 9 beat + Raag Bihagra - Roopak .. Meanings: Nain Mahinje Taras De Pasee Didaar & Ratte Ishq Khudaae Rang Didaar Ke

Malkauns 12 Beat ..