Last Updated on Wed, Mar 24, 2004

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Welcome to Sitar Section

Lesson 02: Holding your sitar

1. A front view

As normal in South Asian culture general, music is usually played when musicians are sitting on the floor with their legs crossed except the case of music for proceeding of ritual or of festivity.

A sitar player should know the best relationship between his/her instrument and his/her body to free both hands for easy playing. Remember that your back should be strait while holding sitar.

General home position for holding a sitar is shown below.

Holding your sitar

2. Sitting posture

To set your sitar in right position, you need to sit properly on the flat floor at least with your left foot bare. Your right foot goes over your folded left leg and extends to somewhere ten or eleven o'clock direction from you. Carefully look at the Movie 02-1: "Sitting posture".
Movie 02-1: Sitting posture

3. Sitar on the left foot
To set your sitar body on your left foot properly, you should look at your left sole and particularly the arch of left foot. Sitar round body should sit on this position comfortably to fit with the arch. Each player has different curve of foot sole and each sitar body has different curve also, the best position is to be found after try-and-errors.

Carefully look at the Movie 02-2: "Sitar on the left foot" to see this position.

Sitar body is supported at three points: left sole arch, outer side of right thigh, and your right arm, so sitar body can be fixed only by this triangle and your left arm and hand is free to move. Carefully look at the Movie 02-3: "Sitar on the left foot 2" .

Movie 02-2: "Sitar on the left foot"

Movie 02-3: "Sitar on the left foot 2"

4. Right arm

To hold sitar properly, your right arm position is very important as well as left foot and right thigh. In the following picture, you can see the right arm holding sitar body.

Right arm position

The right arm is put on the sitar body with the thumb positioned on the junction between the proper neck and shoulder of the sitar body, and with the oher fingers freely extended over strings so that strokes should be natural, while enough space is left between your upper arm and your right side of the chest and your shoulder to be free.

This "proper" position of your right arm depends on your arm length, size of sitar body and other factors, and it also varies according to your maturity in sitar technique. One point is, however, always kept in mind that your right wrist, palm, and fingers should be free and strike strings without excessive power on them. To get comfortable in your right arm, it may take really long time.

5. Thumb position

Your right thumb should always touch sitar neck. Even in jhala playing (the fast rhythmic interchange of strokes between the first string and chikari, the high octave, strings), the thumb never leaves this position and works as a pivot for palm resolving movement.

The following Movie 02-4: "The right thumb position" shows the correct thumb position and palm movement.

Movie 02-4: "The right thumb position"

6. Left hand free After checking above points about sitar holding every time you take your sitar, your left hand should be free to move along the neck. To check your correct holding, leave your left hand from the neck and see if your sitar fit in proper position shown Item 1. "A front view" of this Lesson 02.

The Movie 02-5: "Left hand free" shows a player holding sitar with only his right hand. The neck is a bit far from player body for demonstration.

Movie 02-5: "Left hand free"

Lesson 02: Holding your sitar
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