Once you’re looking at the instructions there one point to keep in mind:
However, if i remember correctly, Dennis mentioned that he broke one bridge because it wasn’t strong enough. So if you’re not in the mood to experiment, go exactly as per his instructions and use the big bridge.
Before putting together plans to make the proper one, Dennis showed me a simple Esraj with a cookie-tin soundbox (without sympathetics) as a draft. I hope he puts instructions up for that as well. It’s a simple instrument and is nothing to boast to your friends about, but it will play just fine and get a lot of beginners started.
You can also make a basic Taanpura if you’re interested. Of course it wont compare to a traditional Taanpura, but judging from the audio sample Dennis has on his website, it sounds good enough to use on stage for casual gatherings.
Audio Recorded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – for the 300 Saal Guru De Naal program. Shabad: Tu Thakur Tum Pai Ardaas
Didi (*is a casual title given to females you consider your sister) Arungeet Kaur is singing. We were blessed to have Sahib Singh, KL Malaysia Wale, on tabla. Several people told me he’s the best Tabalchi among Sikhs in Malaysia – I believe them. He didn’t do much fancy stuff in this recording as we had just met. He did a lot more in the following days after we requested he go all-out.
I’m using my friend Bakshish’s Esraj. It’s a RajMusicals teak wood Esraj.. smaller size than mine. I had to borrow it becuase mine came with a cardboard box, and he has a proper hard case. I didnt want to risk taking mine on the plane.
Imagine, he LET me borrow it. Bro, if you read this, know that I’m very grateful, really.
As usual, kindly pardon my mistakes.
Ok here’s the file already: [download#19]
SAVE AS to your computer please – do not let it stream off this site.
Practice for an upcoming program.
I just learned this Guldasta from Aruna Didi (Arungeet Kaur).
Guldasta = a Raag Mala = More than 1 Raag is used in the composition. It’s not like “Mishr” though, because you are not bending the rules of the Raag.
In this particular composition, every line is set to a different Raag. Anyone care to guess + list which ones are used ?
I’ve got a lot more practice to do – I keep missing notes. It’s very confusing and it’s in a different scale from the one I’m accustomed to using.
I’ve shared this with a few friends some time ago on instant-messenger/facebook.
New Style – but Ancient Looking – Stringed Instruments by Peter Biffin of Australia.
I am blown away. The “Tarhu” sounds like a Cello/Violin/Esraj all in one. Maybe I’m just a little over-excited about this at the moment, but I currently think * * NOTHING * * I have heard can compare to how good these instruments sound. The use of an internal cone that is safe from string tension to produce sound is brilliant.
I am going to get myself an Esraj from him in the (hopefully near) future. Make sure to look through EVERY page on his site, and check out the sound samples – especially the “Tarhui” in Raag Desh.
From the Classical bit:
When we all jammed together:
If you will be in Bangkok this weekend and are interested in Music
Ustadji will be performing on Saturday August 9th: East Meets West – Fusion Music Concert to Celebrate the Anniversary of India’s Independence.
Practice session for an upcoming program. – These files are actually just for me to learn the compositions.
I was told that I am not allowed to share these – but replied with a ” sorry Didi, not possible – I’m putting these up. ” So here they are.
[download#13] (ends abruptly just before Didi’s son is about to make a very loud exclamation as he suddenly enters the room)
please SAVE AS to your computer and not let it download-on-the-fly (stream) as you listen each time. And please do not upload these files at any of the major Kirtan sharing websites. Why? Too casual / Practice session.
Awesome Jam Session in Malaysia
Wadbhag Singh Ji singing
In some tracks- Hargopal Singh Ji is on Tabla, in others , I am.
Kindly forgive my tabla playing – “tripped” too many times.
Also Please pardon any mistakes and “commentary” – It was an extremely casual practice session which just happened to be recorded. It was not intended as a proper recording as such.
The audio has not been edited.
Please only Right click and choose “SAVE AS” to save to your computer.
Do not let it stream from this site.
I have 3-4 more files. Will upload soon.
** Do not re-post these files on any other Kirtan-sharing websites –
1) are private
2) too casual
3) and full of mistakes **
As mentioned in the title, the tune is based on Raag Megh, but Mishr due to the occasional Dha – not counting the Ga note touched by mistake.
Mishr* – means “joined” or in this context: “mixed”.
I have observed: when there are embellishments added to a composition which don’t fit in with the generally accepted rules of that Raag, people will add Mishr to the name of the Raag. For example, when announcing what she will be singing, a performer may say Raag Mishr Darbari instead of Raag Darbari if she will be bending the rules.
Performers will also often say “this is a semi-classical piece based on Raag Darbari.”
There are also more elaborate and creative Raag mixes used in traditional Sikh music. One example from our Gurbani is Raag Gauri bhi* Sorath bhi. Which is a Mishr (joining) of Raag Gauri and Raag Sorath. I have heard a tape of the late legend, Bhai Avtar Singh Ji singing this particular combination.
When ascending along the scale – he used the notes and patterns for Raag Gauri, but when descending – he used the notes and patterns for Raag Sorath. It’s quite difficult to handle and requires much training.
Bhi* – pronounced bhee – means “also”.
Back to Raag Megh:
I heard this tune on a pretty old tape of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Gambhir singing the Shabad: “Vin Bolia Sabh Kich Jaanda Kis Aagai Keechai Ardaas?” – it’s 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.
by the way: Megh ,pronounced MAYgh, means Cloud/Clouds. Listening to Raag Megh generally generates a cooling and soothing feeling.
But of course, Ustadji Plays Raag Megh much better than I do.
If you ask me “Where can I buy a Quality Esraj or Dilruba?” (as seen on my blogspot blog)
Earlier , I would have told everyone : ” Err I don’t Know – Mine is from Raj Musicals in Delhi, so I suppose you can get one there ”
Their instruments are good, and I have nothing against them. I just wish they would pay more attention to details and give the ‘average’ customer better service. It’s best to have someone who knows how to inspect instruments properly pick it up. OR, if you are friends with a famous or semi-famous musician – ask them to place the order for you.
Note: Raj Musicals in Dehli is different from “Raj Academy” which is based in the UK. Their instruments will most likely be OK because they have been inspected thoroughly.
Anyways.. Now I have someone else I can recommend with confidence.
Check out Monoj Kumar Sardar & Bros – in Kolkata.
My good friend Angad bought an Esraj from him. I have seen photos, and heard it on Skype. She’s a beauty !
Best of all , it reached him with everything taken care of nicely. Nothing needs to be adjusted or messed with.
I hope they always give all their customers – newbies, amateur and professional – fantastic workmanship and great service.
*Update May 2008: My friend Sarab Singh also ordered one from MKS. He has just received it, and is very happy with it.
Call Mr. MONOJ KUMAR at the office number, tell him Angad from Singapore recommended him.
Don’t bother emailing – just CALL .
Office Telephone: +91-33-2237-5835
Showroom Telephone: +91-33-2248-4519
Their Basic Site: Monoj Kr. Sardar & Bros.
* RIKHI RAM is another big brand name used by several professional Hindustani Classical musicians. Seek them out and ask them too. I think they’re Delhi Based.
* If you’re ready to invest in a TOP NOTCH, traditional Sikh Instrument (Rabab, Taus , Dilruba, Saranda, Jori, etc.): Get in touch with Bhai Baldeep Singh
A few personal recommendations:
1) I suggest you buy an ESRAJ rather than a DILRUBA because the main playing string of the ESRAJ is further away from the edge, and it’s just more comfortable to play. (For me at least)
He’s got 3-4 different grades of Esraj – so you can order one that suits your budget.
If you felt like you NEEDED this information, I’d say you don’t really need an instrument made of teak, so go for the Toon Wood.
If you’re picky – A One-piece Toon Wood Esraj will do fine. If you want to watch your Budget , go for a two piece Toon Wood Esraj.
I’m sorry I don’t quite know the proper English name for Toon wood – if you do , post a comment.
Order machine head tuners for the main strings and sympathetic strings, because if you’re tall and get a small Esraj with big wooden tuning pegs, you wont be able to sit properly.
They’re just easier to tune.
*** I visited Singapore in Dec 2007 and got a chance to play Angad’s Esraj. See Videos from January 2008. His Esraj is smaller than mine, and the big wooden tuning pegs for the main strings go behind my neck when I play – so I can’t sit straight. Other than that It’s a brilliant Esraj though – I like it.
Except the tension on the main playing strings are not very high, which makes it a quiet instrument. You can instruct the manufacturer that you want the instrument to be a little louder than Angad’s – so he should increase the string tension a bit – maybe 20% . He will probably do this by putting a taller bridge or putting slightly thicker stings. I’m not sure – ASK him. ***
Under the bridge of your instrument – there MUST be a leather strip that goes across the sound-box, over the first layer of skin. For Reinforcement.
Because of the nature of animal skin and the way it is attached to the Soundbox of the instrument – it will stretch and “sink in” somewhat after a while. A layer of reinforcement is highly recommended.
My own Esraj/TarShehnai is a two piece model from Delhi’s Raj Musicals. I don’t know what wood it’s made of. I didn’t have much input when ordering it. It’s a little bit large – 70cm string length from the point where it is suspended until where the bridge starts. String tension on my instrument’s main string is about 30% higher than Angad’s. (personal estimate)
You can order a two piece or one piece from MKS. One piece is more expensive, but should sound slightly better and theoretically be more solid/longer lasting.
Like I said: Toon wood will work just fine. Go for Teak later when you don’t need my advice anymore.
Let MKS know that you want to be able to tune the main playing string to play a range of Sa = C to D#
If you are tall, tell the manufacturer how tall you are – so they can make an instrument that suits your size.
If you’re seriously planning to get one – Write all this stuff down ?
2) Secondly, Order the TarShehnai Horn/Soundbox. He charges only a tiny bit more, and it will be like you are buying 2 instruments in one.
3) Regarding the TarShehnai Horn – ask him for a horn that is SHORT and WIDE. It is my observation that they sound a bit deeper/sweeter than the Long/Narrow ones. But double check with the seller about this.
If possible, the Horn should be detachable from the Soundbox. If it is , order 2 horns – It WILL make a difference to the sound. Options I suggest you choose from:
But of course, in the end, the best thing is for you to get what YOU really want.
The above is just to just give you some guidelines based on what I know and like.
Instrumental .mp3 recordings of my Ustad, Maiya Singh ji, on Esraj. Plus some background experimentation by me.
The tracks have not been given any fancy made-up names. The names you see below are the names of the Raags (Ragas) used.
The suffixes 7bt , 11bt, 10bt indicate the number of beats in the rhythm cycle used.
If you’re new to Indian classical music – this album should give you a basic sense of the variety, complexity, spontaneity, and spirituality present. Maiya Singh ji’s playing style is particularly expressive.
I think all the tracks are also great for when you want to focus, relax, or sleep.
My personal favorites are Raag Megh -10 beat & Raag Alhaiya Bilawal – 10 beat.
Download for FREE, then “pay if you wish” and “pay what you please.”
All audio tracks are for personal use only.
If you would like to use any of the tracks or part of the tracks as components in a personal project you are doing – please include a link to This page in your credits.
If you would like to use any or part of the audio tracks in a commercial project – please leave a comment and you will be contacted.
Ustadji Maiya Singh on TarShehnai
Jam Session/Lesson Recordings
Instrumental Music for Free Download (for Personal Use only)
Right Click and choose “Save As” or “Save Link As” to save to your Computer
World Music – Esraj Instrumental
Ustadji Maiya Singh on Esraj or TarShehnai & Manav Singh on Tabla
The Idea was to create music that feels good to listen to. Sample tracks have been uploaded to our Myspace page.
Maiya Singh is based in Bangkok, Thailand. He has devoted his life to Kirtan and Music.
He has studied under
Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra (vocal)
Pt. Siyaram Tivari (dhrupad)
and Ustad Bhai Baljeet Singh (TarShehnai)
Check out my youtube channel for samples of Ustadji playing Esraj / TarShehnai .