This time I returned from India with rather mixed feelings. My best friend, and sitarmaker – teacher Hari Chand is seriously considering to get retired. He is now nearly 77 years old and suffers from pain in his hands, his knees and other joints. The daily trip from his house in Dashrathpuri (near Dwarka sector) to the shop in Paharganj (easiliy 1 -1,5 hrs one way) takes more and more of his spare energy.
He’s built his last complete sitar in 2008. Since then he is slowing down and reducing his daily work. He was still doing some setting and assembling work on selected and checked Calcutta prefab sitarbodies but also this came to an end. Now only some basic sitar repair work remained. Also the frequency of his visits to his shop decreased to only a few days a week. Arriving in his shop sometimes at 11:00hrs only, the working day often doesn’t last long. From 16:00 / 17:00 hrs onwards he is getting ready to return back home. The visit to his shop becomes almost a time-pass picnic only…
The flourishing days of Kartar Chand & Hari Chand are now long gone. Both brothers were very dedicated in making first quality professional sitars and they are famous for their unrivalled repair work. They are very closely related to the other world famous New Delhis sitarmakers family Rikhi Ram. Late Kartar Chand Sharma has been learning the skill from his uncle Rikhi Ram Sharma and Sher Mohammad in Lahore, 1943.
Watch this video from Mr Simonggill about present-day sitar making in Calcutta. Here the real work is done…!! These small factories almost cover the worldwide production of sitars. They produce prefab sitarbodies for all well-known sitar makers such as both Rikhi Ram’s, Hiren Roy, Srishty Musical, RA Sitarmaker, Hari Chand, Raj Musicals, Kartar Chand Dhiman, etc… Far gone are the old times…!!!
The music is from Ustad Vilayat Khan: Raag Hameer.
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.
Hari Chand often talked to me about this “very fine young American person”. He showed me many pictures in his much used and thumb marked album. And during one of my last visits Hariji proudly presented me a beautiful copy from this unique article written by Jay. It’s a real extensive documentary (4,13Mb pdf), made with sincere care and love. Thank You So Much, Jay.
Today Tineke found a website about his present-day work.
Onze goede vriend Bert Cornelis op toernee in India, het bewijs…:
Een meer dan levensgrote affiche van Bert Cornelis & Pt. Uddhav Shinde, sitar & pakhawaj jugalbandi… in de straten van Latur, India.
Op de affiche met Hridaynath Mangeshkar, een broer van de wereldberoemde Lata Mangeshkar.
Een foto uit de krant met een verslag van hun concert in Aurangabad, ter ere van pakhawaj Master Padmashree Bapu Apegaonkar, wijlen de vader van Udhavji.