One of my dearest friends and guru, Hari Chand, passed away yesterday. He reached the age of 87. All what you can read on this site, I’ve learned from him. I am eternally grateful to him and my thoughts go out to him and his family and friends.
Death is not extinguishing the light,
it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come. (R.Tagore)
As every year when I am in Delhi, our dear Swedish friend Hans (Hasse) came to visit me -and this time also my new sitar- in Hari Chands sitar shop. Hans is living half of the year in India and the other half in his house on Gotland. He plays sitar and guitar in many Indian and western bands. Amongst them is Parikrama, a famous rock band from New Delhi.
PlayListen to Hans playing raga Bairagi
at the entrance door of the shop.
It became a nice and realistic soundscape with live Paharganj streetnoise. For Hans it was the first time in months he touched a sitar. Considering this I think he is doing very well on a brandnew 24 parda sitar. The rich and warm sound and easy playability inspired him at once to improvise on Bairagi in the middle of the hectic New Delhi ambiance. Shame on us and sorry for you that we didn’t notice the laraj was a bit out of tune…
I arrived safe and well at Indira Gandhi Airport Terminal in New Delhi. Also my new SAS-02 in its solid stormcase came out unharmed. It was past midnight when we finally entered my dearest Hari Chand’s house in Dashrathpuri, so everybody went straight to bed…
The next morning I was very eager to show my instrument to my beloved friend and teacher. We started this project together in august 2003, while he was on a visit in my house in Bierbeek. At that time Hariji was an essential help to me in making the first solid body sitar SBS-01. This prototype has been tested by many of my sitar playing friends in Belgium, but Hari Chand never saw even this instrument completed. Immediately after this original and very promising experiment I started making plans for a series of new style sitars as can be seen on this blog (see tags SAS or SBS). In december 2008 this instruments trio was completed (see new style sitars).
Hari Chand was very impressed and uttermost pleased to finally see the result of my work. But, all this would never have been possible without his mastership and ever patient and precise teachings about this unique craftmanship to me. I will forever be grateful to him and his late brother Kartar Chand.
Soon Hariji’s young apprentice Rahul Gupta arrived in the shop and he played some nice tunes on the electric sitar during the noontime siësta. The Roland microCUBE -a very light and portable amp- is a fine companion to the Kent Armstrong Slimbucker™ Jazz guitar pickup. Rahul only had some minor problems getting used to the 24 pardas edition (“chromatic” as they say in India).
Later I visited S.Raj & Sanjeev Sharma at Raj Musicals, Rikhi Ram Sanjay Sharma and my good friend and N°1 jiwarimaster Kartar Chand Dhiman. They all examinated the SAS-02, thoroughly checking every parda on its position and meend playability but they could not detect any anomaly. Also the jiwari passed the serious tests. Most intriguing were the rather unusual selection of wood (walnut and mahogany), their finishing touch (danish oil) and the most accurate joints between the different parts. Minus points were noted to be the slight difference in weight and pure acoustic sound in comparison with a traditional sitar. But, it has never been my purpose to compete with a pure acoustic musical instrument. I only wanted to inspire the advanced and professional sitar players to a new world of sound.
From monday 2/03/2009 till 12/03/2009 I will be in New Delhi, India with one of my new sitars. I will be visiting my best friend and sitarmaker Hari Chand to whom I want to show my new style sitars. But since I cannot take them all with me, I ‘ve choosen the SAS-02 “Jazz Sitar light” to go on this journey. I ‘ve also bought a tiny red but overall good sounding portable guitar amp MicroCUBE from Roland. Here is my sitar travel set:
If you are interested in exploring this sitar in India, you are always welcome to visit Hari Chand and me in his sitar shop in New Delhi. Adress: 9050, Gali N°1, Multani Dhanda, Paharganj, New Delhi 110055.
Recently I made this recording during a short ride on a riksha in Delhi. Hari Chand and I started off from his house where traffic is reasonably calm and headed for the busstop on the main road. I’m using my H2 “handy recorder” and 2 DPA 4060 miniature microphones. Playsoundscape Horn Please...
One evening we take a taxiscooter home. As usual the road is very busy. At a certain moment we are standing waiting for a red light together with many more road-users. All possible kinds of vehicles on 2, 3, 4 and sometimes more, sometimes less wheels stand bumper to bumper and criss-cross, the usual way. A long, red carnivalballoon is floating over the roofs in our direction. On the rope hangs a 12 year old girl. She tries to sell her balloon, but not much success. Not with me either. Immediately afterwards a big group of about 10 very poor and young kids- about 3 to 12 years old I guess – comes up. All of them are dressed in rags, the oldest ones carrying the smaller ones in their arms. Effortless and swiftly they brave this total traffic chaos. They have a target: me, a pardesi, a white skin…
To follow the conversation in Hindi a bit, here’s a short glossary :
chapati = main food, thin round wheat pancake
roti = idem
khanna = to eat, food
bhukh = hungry
bukhar = fever
challo = go