Tuesday, January 03, 2017


Veena (Saraswati vina) made with jackfruit wood 波羅蜜木

similarity with the qin: 7 strings with 13 dots. The thicker strings are away from the player and the thinner strings are closer to the player. 
There are tiny sound holes on the wood. The 13 dots on Veena thou is not for harmonics (the overtone sound positions).

The first day of 2017 is the day I first see a Veena and hear it in live. My mother-in-law's neighbor Sushma and her sister, who currently is visiting Vestal NY from London, both plays the Saraswati Vina. Sushma stopped for a while and now pick it up again. Her sister has been playing the Vina for 16 years. I did not know about this Indian 7 string instrument until mom one day mentioned to me that her neighbor plays a very interesting string instrument. Mom also told Sushma about me playing the ancient Chinese 7 string zither. So Sushma wanted to see my instrument and I also wanted to see her instrument. Finally mom made the arrangement for this small music gathering on the first day of 2017 for us to meet each other, while Sushma's family members coming visit her. I was so lucky to hear both the sisters playing. 

I am not familiar with this instrument, so I post some photos on my fb and some friends gave me really very nice info. I am posting them down here...

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Bill Mak 印度Vīṇā實際上指至少三種不同的樂器,古代印度的弦琴漢譯為箜篌,類似緬甸彎琴。現代的Vīṇā夾雜了不同文化的影響,帶點波斯和中亞色彩。

Peiyou Chang 這對印度姊妹有介紹到三種Vina. 同時也介紹他們學各種不同的音階, 每彈一曲必在一個音階內使用被允許用的mother音 and daughter 音 去improv.

David Badagnani The original instrument called "vina" in Sanskrit was probably an arched harp. The ancestor of the pipa, the kacchapa vina or kacchapi, was also a type of vina since the word "vina" came to mean any string instrument (as the word "qin" is used in China). The one Peiyou featured is the Saraswati vina which is similar to the sitar, but without sympathetic strings or movable frets.

The rudra vina which is a fretted tube zither and an extremely interesting instrument, especially needs the gourds for resonance since its body is so slender. Gourds are used worldwide for resonance on string and sometimes also wind instruments.

David Badagnani This is how the original kacchapa vina looked. It was transmitted north to the Buddhist kingdom of Kucha (Xinjiang) from Gandhara (North India/Pakistan/Afghanistan) before Sui times, and the Chinese in Chang'an then adopted it as the pipa.

(see the photo above)

Peiyou Chang Rudra veena: https://youtu.be/2IvV5Z0wFR4
I like this recording which has parts sound like guqin melody, especially bass tones.

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David Badagnani Yes, it's very deep, slow, meditative, and spiritual. It's down to just a few players, like the situation of qin in the last century.
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Peiyou Chang David, do you know if they have their own music scores? I am wondering what it looks like.
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Ralph Knag I took a vocal class in this style last year - we used western notation. There are a few good books in English - and a new one is coming soon
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Ralph Knag I also took one class with Jeff Lewis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tngyk6qLv88

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Peiyou Chang I believe using western notation is the modern development. I am wondering in the ancient time, what kind of score they were using?
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Ralph Knag Here's a discussion from my teachers: http://dhrupad.org/notation-where-has-it-led-us/

If we choose to alter the position of the Sa within the scale, all the other intervals change accordingly. The character of the raga also changes. Therefore, if we choose to change the position of the Sa in any Raga, then each pitch in the scale of that Raga would also change. Sometimes these change...
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Ralph Knag The vina you recorded is Carnatic (southern). Dhrupad is a northern style
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Peiyou Chang Very interesting. Thanks Ralph.
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