Reincarnation of Sitar in rendition and the instrument as well...




New generation Sitar player Sanjay Deshpande


He presents his Sitar recital in true ‘Gayaki (vocal) rendition. He calls it as the Khayal Ang’.

Sanjay has made major changes in the hardware of Sitar, to be suitable to play literally any music on Sitar in the view of making it a versatile and popular instrument globally outdating a conventional Sitar.


Sanjay Deshpande has made two major changes in the Sitar playing and in the Sitar instrument itself which are widely acclaimed and recognized by the listeners and the connoisseurs. He has brought a unique style of presentation of his own- The "Khayal Ang". He explains-" As the capabilities of this new instrument were not known or may be that the instrument may not be having the technical perfection to imitate Gayaki on it, the musicians should have simplified the Khayal Ang into simplified version of Gat -Toda. Therefore the Bandish (A typical classical composition) became the Gat and the Taans converted to "Todas."


The Khayal Ang


After many years, the new thought of rendition came and the suitable changes in the instruments also were done. Today the new generation of Sitar players is experimenting on the proper conversion of Sitar playing by improvising the Raga into vocal style, with the usage of parallel terminology applicable in vocal style, playing Drut Bandish on Sitar, instead of the traditional Razakhani Gat. Sanjay has converted, or rather re-defined the term toda, as taans. and a modular and a compact structure of a typical presentation of the Bandish in a typical Raga with the Sthai, Antra, the Sthai Taans, Antra Taans and The Sampurna Taans in a variety of Alankaars and shapes.


There is a definite replenishment in the Gats of yester years reconstructed to their original Bandish structure and many a Sitar players actually sing the Bandish and then play on the Sitar in the concert so that the listeners can enjoy the 'Bhava' (An emotional aspect) of the Bandish in true sense. But, this is all true in terms of the Madhya laya or the Drut version. According to Sanjay, none of the Sitar players have ever tried to play the Vilambit Khayal bandish in place of Masitkhani Gat. The Sitar players who claim that they play the Sitar with Gayaki Ang, play the Masitkhani gats only, and have not ever tried to play the actual Vilambit Khayal Bandish on the Instrument. Sanjay successfully experimented and has adopted the actual Bandish in Dheema Teen Taal or Vilambit Ek Taal or other Taals in place of Masitkhani Gat and surprisingly, he has been receiving a very good applause from the listeners and the connoisseurs as well. "Even the conventional Jod, which is the reformation of Nom-tom, though difficult to pronounce on Sitar, sounds more realistic; i.e. true to vocal style, than the traditional Jod.  Very recently, Sanjay incorporated Taraanaa in Drut Teen Taal replacing the conventional Zhala.


Sanjay feels that majority of the audience always listens to more of vocal music than any instrumental music. Therefore, any instrumental performance which adheres to the true presentation or the Badhat of the Raga in the way of vocal music is more understandable and  convincing to the audience. Though, traditional technical terminology of ornamental application like jhamjhama, krintan, ghasit and other things are do applicable in Gayaki playing, but when it comes to rendering a complicated Aalap or a Taan, technically it becomes a complicated structure which may incorporate many or all these ornaments together, thus bringing the rendition quite nearer to the vocal rendition.


The “Sanjay Deshpande” branded Sitar…


Do we ever listen Sitar in Western music? Western Classical? oriental Music? The one and only one answer to all these questions is NO. In the past centuries, we successfully adopted western musical instruments like Harmonium, Violin, Clarinet, Guitar etc. for playing or accompanying Indian classical music, but on the other hand, none of our Indian musical instruments have been adopted by the musicians of either western or eastern countries, to play their music on it. Sanjay strongly feels that such a globalisation of Sitar should take place, so that any artist belonging to some xyz country, goes to a shop in his city, he purchases Sitar to play HIS music on it! (And not the traditional Indian Classical Music) and only then we could say that we have popularized our instrument in true sense!


In the view of this, Sanjay has re-discovered major changes in the hardware of the Sitar. He has done major changes in the Bridge, Frets and Strings of the instrument, so as to be able to play any kind of music on Sitar, which is not easily possible on the present Sitar.


Any musical instrument is a medium of expression and we have to see whether the given musical instrument is capable of doing it or not. Sanjay feels that every Indian instrument is definitely capable of delivering any kind of music except the present Sitar, because of its present frets' structure. None of the other music than our Hindustani classical music follows the note structure similar to our Ragas, hence the instrument should have all the frets on the fret-board so that any note can be easily played without shifting any fret.


From the view of modifying the present Sitar, he redesigned the tuning, i.e. the strings structure, Bridge and refitted the remaining frets to be able to play almost any kind of music on Sitar.


Sanjay started playing Sitar, with traditional tuning, later switched over to Vilayatkhani style of tuning and finally arrived on to a combined type of tuning. Truly, the Ga String in Vilayatkhani tuning gives a beautiful filling effect in between the hollow phrases but while playing the notation in lower notes, the improvisation is some times felt incomplete. In Ragas like Yaman or Bihag, where the Aroha or the ascending in the lower octave or Kharja starts from Ni, he felt that the lower Pa string is very essential. However, in the above tuning structure, playing chords will not be easily possible.


The major aspect in this new Sitar is a totally new concept in the design of the bridge. Sanjay introduced a bridge with convex curvature for the Sitar. The conventional bridge of the Sitar is a flat piece made of Deer horn or Rose wood, on to which, the strings travel. Benefits of this new bridge are- one can play on any string, on any fret, which is not generally possible on conventional Sitar. Because all the strings run parallel to the curvature of the bridge, there is no problem of dis-tuning of note. Secondly- Playing meends becomes very easy, because after stretching the string, it flows as per the curvature of the frets and there is no obstacle to the string, because of the curvature of the bridge, which is not possible in the conventional Sitar because of the straight bridge. And the most important thing is that the bridge does not require frequent leveling (Zawari) thus increasing the bridge life. The material used for making this new bridge is the same conventional material only.

Previously Sitar had all the frets like been. This Sitar was called as Achal Thaat Sitar. Some artist removed the frets of komal Re and komal Dha as the Hindustani raga structure does not usually need both Re(s) and Dha(s) at a time, converting it to a Chal Thaat Sitar which is regularly in use today. Major draw back in this Sitar is that, one has to physically shift the frets of Re and Dha make them either shuddha or komal. As far as playing classical music on Sitar , it seems fine, but If anyone wants to play any other form of music on sitar, it is virtually impossible to play because two vital frets are missing! Hence, he did the re-addition of frets making it a complete Sitar.  A renowned Sitar maker from Miraj, Naushad Mirajkar seemed completely satisfied with the changes. He has named the new millennium sitar as a Sanjay Khani Sitar.

To avail Sanjaykhani Sitar under the brand “Sanjay Deshpande”, contact Sanjay Deshpande, #199, Bhima Shankar House, Shiv Basav Nagar, Malmaruti Extension, Sector No. 2, Belgaum* (Karnataka State, India.) – 590010. Phone: +91-831-2470009. Mobile: +91-94481-37009.


Traditional Sanjaykhani Sitar

The latest compact version of Sanjaykhani Sitar.

The modified bridge of Sanjaykhani Sitar




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This page was last updated on 30th April 2018.