Tambura - On the Brink

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Sachi_R
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#1 Tambura - On the Brink

Post by Sachi_R »

The Hindu irritates and offends quite a bit through the week until Fridays, when just a couple of their Review pieces on music soften my heart and Sri Mathrubhootham clinches it on Sundays. Hats off to the editors.
[My son also tells me there are some hilarious comic strips through the week. Must check them out.]
Image

Bombay Jayashri comes across as a musician with great sensibilities:
“My grandfather's tambura is hundred years old. When my parents got married, GNB gave her a Thanjavur tambura,” she recalls. Jayashri has passed on her love to her students as well. “It is a divine sight — when the stage has two perfectly aligned tamburas – Lakshmi and Saraswati. ‘Fifty per cent of your concert is done if you have well-tuned tamburas. Your singing is only the other half,’ my guru Lalgudi Jayaraman would say,” she remembers.
And this is wonderful! :
Therapeutic effect

Rama. Kausalya

The Tambura is considered a queen amongst the Suri vadhyas such as Ektar, Dotar, Tuntina, Ottu and Donai. Although tamburas are traditionally made at certain places, the Thanjavur Tambura has a special charm, which makes it a favourite. They are beautifully ornamented like the Thanjavur Veena. Veena Asaris are the Tambura makers too but not all are experts the reason being it requires a special skill to make the convex ‘Meppalagai’ or the plate covering the ‘Kudam’ or ‘Paanai.’ The making and fixing of the Meppalagai must be done with utmost care.

There are two ways of holding a Tambura. One is the “Urdhva” — upright posture, as in in concerts. Placing the Tambura on the right thigh is the general practice. The other is to place it on the floor in front of the person who is strumming it. While practising or singing casually, it can be placed horizontally on the lap, the Kudam on the right side.

The middle finger and index finger are used to strum the Tambura. Of the four strings, the ‘Panchamam,’ which is at the farther end is plucked by the middle finger followed by the successive plucking of ‘Sārani’, ‘Anusārani’ and ‘Mandara’ strings one after the other by the index finger. This exercise is repeated in a loop resulting in the sruti resonating entirely and creating a wholesome musical atmosphere. Playing the Tambura also needs special skill since the plucking should give a sustained sruti guide to the main performer.

The Tambura which gives the sa-pa-sa Sruti notes is pure therapy to the mind and soul. Sit in a quiet place with eyes closed and listen to the notes of a perfectly tuned Tambura — the effect is therapeutic.

Tambura makers rarely get orders. If they did, the preference is for instruments 50 years old since the wood used then was well seasoned and of great quality.

Except a few, the current generation is for electronic sruti accompaniment, including Bluetooth. Portability is the obvious reason for the choice. Besides few music students are taught to tune and play the tambura. Beyond all this what seems to swing the vote is that the electronic sruti equipment with its heavy tonal quality can cover up when the sruti goes astray.

During the middle of the last century, Miraj Tamburas (next only to the vintage Thanajvur) were a rage amongst music students, who were captivated by its tonal quality with high precision and the beautiful, natural gourd resonators.

arasi
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#2 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by arasi »

Sachi,
The tamboori bringing out the 'rIng'Aram while surrounding music. Personally, I like to hear its sound in a pronounced way when the voice pauses.
Love Keshav's illustration. The liveliness in his lines...

Sivaramakrishnan
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#3 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by Sivaramakrishnan »

Some neutral observations:

It would be wise to use the e-sruti box if the tambura strings are not steady.

I have noted that some of the high-end electronic gadgets give very good sruti output.

Often, the Tambura sruti is available only to those in the stage as no separate amplification is provided to it.

We have to ensure that Tambura tuning does not end up as an art of the past.

Carnatic music learners (espy beginners) who are not exposed to tambura, stand to lose heavily on the basics of the art.

Hindustani musicians have Tambura/s as main and sruti box is used only a stand by.
just the reverse in the South!

Difficulty in portability and non-availability of strummers are limiting factors. (These were somehow overcome in olden days)

sankark
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#4 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by sankark »

Ah - meppalagai - how jargon evolves! Believe this is the colloquial way of pronouncing mEl palagai (the wooden plank on top) which should become mERpalagai because of sandhi rules; however has become mEppalagai in practice.

arasi
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#5 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by arasi »

mEl palagai itself sounds fine and it can be easily understood too.

thenpaanan
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#6 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

Another commonly found combination is one acoustic tanpura with an electronic drone. The effect can be quite pleasant, especially if the two instruments are differently weighted on the bass and treble tones. But tuning acoustic and electronic instruments together can be a stiff challenge.

-T

Sachi_R
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#7 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by Sachi_R »

Interesting. Can you please share a link to any video where such a thing has been done? By drone do you mean something like a Sruti box?

rajeshnat
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#8 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by rajeshnat »

Thenpaananan
As I was reading this article and over the period of 8 years plus i was kind of researching myself talked with few and I just thought I had some perplexing questions on usage of 2 manual tamburas in tandem in a concert. In tandem is the key

Few musicians only use one manual tambura . Few musicians only use two tamburas . I was thinking on two views just come up with few questions

Is Two tamburas really needed - Some points that i thought to say it is not needed ??
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Few of them have said there is no way you can tune both tamburas in tandem and it is a more show off. Also ONe sound tambura will do as playing two will never synchronize. Some musicians prefer always 2 , but incidentally during the course of the concert I have only seen the main artist retuning the tambura 1 only and not both . So as such there is an element of truth in questioning the concept of 2 tamburas in tandem

2. I was thinking one is strummed most closer to ear of musician and the other is either used as standby? After a period of time in a concert the standby plays more

3. Can we still get good music if say one tambura is heard by musician and if say one is directly fed to the microphone ? I was thinking nowadys one gadget is fed to the mic and the other is just played ? I am so confused if tandem tambura sound indeed works ?

4.When there are two tamburas i see one expert always playing with alacrity and other is more a visual showoff or promotion of sishya ?

5. Quite frankly without even manual tamburas, I have heard lovely concerts where musicians have fed lovely gadgets iphone or android whatever and that is even more better than manual tambura. Nowadys I am thinking since the sound and drone is constant and it is has only 3 or 4 presettings like madhyama sruthi , gadget sound is surely having more quality and it is just non acceptance by musician community and the loss of visual branding with tambura is the key than the sound of tambura

6. Having said that I am not starting a debate of Radel vs iPhone vs Manual so heavily, HAVE YOU , HAVE YOU Really heard great and better sound with Manual tambura VS a great device like iPad/Android which plays that tune of tambura. Some one said MIRAJ Tamburas are still better but for most tamburas other than Miraj tamburas the devices are getting better. Any thoughts on best software for android and/or Apple?

7. I personally think quoting MS Amma and KVN and naming two tamburas like saraswati etc like MS and then in turn BJ trying to state the same is a more marketing exercise. i understand the need of MS as in her days the device is not available but for BJ to say that is just bringing more soul to music is only an indirect marketing agenda to promote that gentleness of the music ? This point is debatable for sure and I can be wrong .

8. Some one told me some time back musicians like Vellore Ramabadran used to hear tambura very intently and also play . We have heard anecdotes of KVN always hearing the tambura so may be vellore ramabadran did the same . Is that possible for even percussion team to play layam with hearing the tambura.

9. Finally just a logical flow .When you have manual tambura the vocalist can take a bit of lungspace at the end of main , recoup , still retune tambura to madhyama sruthi and then sing shenjurutti and move on . So as such manual tambura has a strategic cover up advantage to have more rest and fire bit letter.

10.ATTN Thenpaanan- No 10th question take your time and answer for each one in a detailed fashion . :)

SrinathK
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#9 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by SrinathK »

When I first heard a real tambura in person, standing next to it, the sound was on another level to any gadget. When the string catches the jivari, the harmonics just explode. And how the strings are plucked and all matter a lot. Real instruments have quite individual sounds. These nuances are totally lost on the mic.

Having said that the apps are also quite good. I use tanpura droid for android.

rajeshnat
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#10 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by rajeshnat »

Thenpaanan ,
just bumping this thread as I am not sure if you have seen my questions, can you please answer #8.

thenpaanan
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#11 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan
As I was reading this article and over the period of 8 years plus i was kind of researching myself talked with few and I just thought I had some perplexing questions on usage of 2 manual tamburas in tandem in a concert. In tandem is the key
Wow. It is not often someone asks me a question directly. Flattered. :D
rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Few musicians only use one manual tambura . Few musicians only use two tamburas . I was thinking on two views just come up with few questions

Is Two tamburas really needed - Some points that i thought to say it is not needed ??
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Few of them have said there is no way you can tune both tamburas in tandem and it is a more show off. Also ONe sound tambura will do as playing two will never synchronize. Some musicians prefer always 2 , but incidentally during the course of the concert I have only seen the main artist retuning the tambura 1 only and not both . So as such there is an element of truth in questioning the concept of 2 tamburas in tandem
That is not quite true. It takes much more effort and skill to tune two tamburas to be in perfect unison than twice the effort of tuning one, but it can be done. Legions of Hindustani vocalists are evidence. Their tamburas are very loud and if the tamburas were not in tune it would be obvious to the ear. That said, it can be maddening to have two tamburas that are ever so close but not quite the same. And ironically, the better the tamburas the bigger the problem, because the mismatch will be loud as well. As far as skill goes, many people tune their tambura only approximately. Sensitivity to pitch varies -- I am sure that super tambura wranglers will find my tuning annoyingly inaccurate. Also, some tamburas simply will not yield to your tender ministrations and will stay stubbornly out of tune beyond a point. As for tuning on stage, that is a total nightmare. It takes (for me) a quiet environment to hear the fine tuning of tambura, which is why you need to tune them in a greenroom. If the two tamburas go off tune relative to each other on stage, it is best to just tune one and leave the other one alone (and stop playing it) for the rest of the concert. I have seen some musicians actually fix a tambura tuning perfectly on stage and I am in total awe of them.

-T

thenpaanan
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#12 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan

2. I was thinking one is strummed most closer to ear of musician and the other is either used as standby? After a period of time in a concert the standby plays more
This may indeed be true but in a different sense. The second tambura is more than standby. "Standby" implies that it is not pressed into service until the primary goes out of service. The second tambura is for resonance with the first tambura. Together they create a bigger sound (than the sum) and also create an ambient environment of sound in the vicinity of the singer. My conjecture is that the mutual resonance creates a standing wave but I don't really know.

As for strumming one tambura close to the ear, sometimes the musician wants to drown in the tambura sound for whatever reason. In my own experience getting the tambura really close helps me hear all the overtones and drown out the ambient noise that can be very distracting, especially at the beginning of the concert when you are trying to get into the "zone". If you see a musician doing it in the middle of a concert (and it is not about tuning the tambura) it usually means there is too much noise on stage (sometimes the audience talk is picked up by the mic or there is a nasty hum from the electronics or the violin may be slightly off and that can be distracting too) or the musician is losing his/her focus (perhaps due to exhaustion or illness etc). But for this particular purpose one tambura is enough, you don't need both. Once the distraction is resolved the musician usually does not need to keep doing it and can go back to the standard resonance arrangement.

-T

thenpaanan
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#13 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan

3. Can we still get good music if say one tambura is heard by musician and if say one is directly fed to the microphone ? I was thinking nowadys one gadget is fed to the mic and the other is just played ? I am so confused if tandem tambura sound indeed works ?
Of course it is hard to generalize because so much depends on the quality of the instruments and the tuning. I am presuming in this case that one or both the tambura's are electronic. I use one acoustic and one electronic in my performances (because I only own one acoustic tambura and even if I borrowed another I cannot find a second strummer). The one potential problem with the arrangement you suggest is that without a good monitor you don't hear on stage what the audience is hearing, which can be risky (if a gadget is fed directly it does not emit any acoustic output and all the sound is from the main speaker system). It would be better if both tamburas are mic'ed off the air but that seems to be a challenge too. In many of our carnatic concerts the sruthi can be barely heard -- it feels like the air mic's are not picking them up at all.

A serious shortcoming of this arrangement relative to two acoustic tamburas is that there is no standing wave resonance that I can discern. But the combination of an acoustic and an electronic tambura gives coverage in different parts of the spectrum and thus a richer sound. So my preference order is 2 acoustic tamburas > one acoustic and one electronic > two electronics > one electronic. I now have experience doing all four. :)

-T

thenpaanan
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#14 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan
4.When there are two tamburas i see one expert always playing with alacrity and other is more a visual showoff or promotion of sishya ?
Tambura playing is very individualistic. Different players have different speeds and styles. Some play fast, some play slow, some play the pa string slow and then speed up on the rest, etc. Even the main musician's preferences vary. Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman would apparently tell his tambura player to keep it mellow so that no single string sound is discernible. I've had singers tell me to play it harder so that they can hear the twang. Some tambura players get excited and speed up when listening to the main performer, some others can maintain a steady metronomic playing no matter what. (In fact the latter kind were much sought after for AIR recordings before the advent of electronics). There is a lot of variability in tambura playing even within one individual -- in fact even as a concert progresses the strumming will slacken as the arm gets tired. Sometimes you will see the tambura player laying the instrument horizontally in the middle of the concert to rest the arm. So on and so forth.

Of course there is no saying that showmanship is not going on using tamburas, but what you've stated is not enough evidence of that. :D

-T

thenpaanan
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#15 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan

5. Quite frankly without even manual tamburas, I have heard lovely concerts where musicians have fed lovely gadgets iphone or android whatever and that is even more better than manual tambura. Nowadys I am thinking since the sound and drone is constant and it is has only 3 or 4 presettings like madhyama sruthi , gadget sound is surely having more quality and it is just non acceptance by musician community and the loss of visual branding with tambura is the key than the sound of tambura
A tambura being an acoustic instrument is subject to all the vagaries -- the quality of the instrument, the tuning, the playing, and the amplification. An electronic version is only susceptible to the last one. It is absolutely possible that in a given setting the electronic sounds better than the acoustic counterpart.

I don't think there is any non-acceptance at all from the musicians any more of electronic tamburas. In fact as time progresses we now have a generation of musicians who have never lacked a tambura app.

True there is the visual branding (almost any album cover that you see in CD or on the Internet you invariably see the musician posing with an acoustic tambura. Whether they actually use that tambura is a different question. I should look to see if all the cover pictures from a given music distributor feature the same tambura (to the extent that it is discernible from the decorative patterns on the tambura). If they look the same, then surely the instrument is a prop. :lol:

But because of its large resonator the *physical* feel of a well-tuned tambura cannot be matched by an electronic one, even if the sound of the latter is sweeter.

-T

thenpaanan
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#16 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan

6. Having said that I am not starting a debate of Radel vs iPhone vs Manual so heavily, HAVE YOU , HAVE YOU Really heard great and better sound with Manual tambura VS a great device like iPad/Android which plays that tune of tambura. Some one said MIRAJ Tamburas are still better but for most tamburas other than Miraj tamburas the devices are getting better. Any thoughts on best software for android and/or Apple?
In these kinds of comparisons details matter, it is useless to generalize without concrete examples. I personally own an acoustic tambura that I bought from Ramji in Trichy in 1993. It is one of the first foldable models that he made. I also own an upright piano (a Kawai) that from all reports is a superior piece in that it has a better sound than most uprights. One of the times when I was jamming with my pianist friend (who also happens to be my voice coach) I brought my tambura out to strum while he played piano (until then I had only used my Raagini). Both of us were stunned. The piano's sound, rich as it is, is no match for the sound of Ramji's tambura. The audio spectrum of the tambura is significantly broader (on both ends) than the piano's notes even if you played two octaves on the piano at once. But the piano is much much louder. This was not at all the case with the Raagini, which sounded like a penny whistle in comparison. You might argue that this was only an upright piano, not a baby grand or a grand. But then my tambura is only a foldable/portable version (with all the compromises that entails). Also I did not hit all the octaves in a piano at once, only a couple of octaves as is possible with two hands. But then there are only four strings on a tambura.

In my experience the Raagini has better sound than the iphone app. But that is only if you use the speaker on the phone. If I connect the phone to my amp/mixer/speaker system the app sounds better because it has a wider range and the speaker on the Raagini, while better than an iphone speaker, is no match for a 400 watt speaker.

So short answer to your question, yes. A manual tambura is much much better. I have played a few Miraj tamburas as well and the sound is louder and different, but Ramji's piece is no slouch either.

Between apps there is not a lot of difference. My personal preference is for the iTanpura/iTabla app but I would not say that the other apps are worse by much.

-T

Sachi_R
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#17 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by Sachi_R »

Masterly answers. Thenpaanan 🙏🏻

However I wonder about standing waves. The standing wave phenomenon explains how the two waves create spatial troughs and peaks by interaction. In this instance, I think the idea or two tamburas is to create a canvas of resonance with slightly different timbres and a richness akin to the warp and woof of a two colour weave.

thenpaanan
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#18 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan

7. I personally think quoting MS Amma and KVN and naming two tamburas like saraswati etc like MS and then in turn BJ trying to state the same is a more marketing exercise. i understand the need of MS as in her days the device is not available but for BJ to say that is just bringing more soul to music is only an indirect marketing agenda to promote that gentleness of the music ? This point is debatable for sure and I can be wrong .
I can certainly attest from personal experience that having an acoustic tambura on stage tremendously changes the ambience for the singer. On occasion I've had the violin player also express appreciation for the presence of the acoustic tambura, especially when it is well-tuned. My guess is that unfortunately it does not provide a similar benefit by far to the audience. This may be because, generally speaking, tamburas don't get a separate mic so they are not fully audible over the speaker system. South Indian tamburas not being as loud as North Indian ones, the unamplified sound probably does not travel beyond the first few rows of listeners in a typical hall. As a result, listeners may care less about the presence of an acoustic tambura than the performers.

So I can certainly understand a singer wanting to have an acoustic tambura on stage. But as far as giving names to tamburas and such, the mahAbhAratam says that arjuNA's celestial bow had a name "gAndIva", and that every time an arrow was fired it rumbled like thunder. But nowhere does it say that the bow made arjuNA a better archer. :)

-T

thenpaanan
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#19 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan

8. Some one told me some time back musicians like Vellore Ramabadran used to hear tambura very intently and also play . We have heard anecdotes of KVN always hearing the tambura so may be vellore ramabadran did the same . Is that possible for even percussion team to play layam with hearing the tambura.
It is simply a fact that all Carnatic musicians like the sound of the tambura (otherwise I guess they would not be in the business). KVN's ear when it came to tambura tuning is the stuff of legend. The fact that Shri rAmabhadran used to listen to it intently speaks to his fine aesthetics. I have interacted with him in close quarters only once and I remember that that day he took unusually long (in my limited experience) to tune his mridangam with the sruthi. Even after I thought it was well-tuned he kept on tweaking his instrument and the sound kept getting better and better. I remember him telling me, in paraphrase, that rhythmic complexity is secondary to sweetness of sound and unison with the performers.

I cannot quite parse your question, but he played very minimally that day and yet his "dhin" sounded so resonant it fairly boomed like a tambura, without sounding the least bit overpowering.

-T

thenpaanan
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#20 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan

9. Finally just a logical flow .When you have manual tambura the vocalist can take a bit of lungspace at the end of main , recoup , still retune tambura to madhyama sruthi and then sing shenjurutti and move on . So as such manual tambura has a strategic cover up advantage to have more rest and fire bit letter.
I can tell you from personal experience that if and when you are tired towards the end of a concert your tuning faculties don't work too well either in those circumstances. In one of my concerts I remember that I was so tired that my heart was pounding loudly and my ears no longer functioned as normal.

At that point I was intent on just finishing the concert without making errors, so the fact that I had retune the tambura was only a negative rather than a positive. :D

Of course the matter could be quite different for a professional singer. But I don't think anyone enjoys tuning a tambura on stage, especially if the tambura in question is not your personal possession. Tambura's can be very quirky and what starts as a simple tuning change can quickly derail into a complete mess.

I guess it is like the "rest day" we used to have in test cricket in years gone by. I used to think that the players needed the rest, only to find out in some article that the players actually hated it since it spoiled their rhythm and were glad to see it gone. Similarly I think a singer would love nothing more than to sing uninterrupted from start to finish.

-T

thenpaanan
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#21 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 07 Apr 2018, 15:03 Thenpaananan

10.ATTN Thenpaanan- No 10th question take your time and answer for each one in a detailed fashion . :)
Rajeshnat,

Indeed I treated your list of questions as a board exam paper ("Kindly start the answer to a new question on a new sheet of paper.") :) :) :)

It took a while but I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise.

Thanks!
-T

rajeshnat
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#22 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by rajeshnat »

thenpaanan wrote: 19 Apr 2018, 06:22 Rajeshnat,

Indeed I treated your list of questions as a board exam paper ("Kindly start the answer to a new question on a new sheet of paper.") :) :) :)

It took a while but I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise.

Thanks!
-T
Thenpaanan,
Your answers are elaborate and staying extremely contextual. The crux of my question is just one "Can 2 tampuras ever achieve synchronization and can 1 tampura just do the same". You have given a clear answer but to me based on discussions over the period of few years, the house is bit divided and few are bit away from you on the applicability and necessity of two concurrent tamburas.

May be if I am musician this is what I will do , bring 2 solid tambura stroking artists of say the calibre of Tambura Vaidyanathan(no 2 tamburas ) and bring one Miraj Tabura . Make them alternatively play the same tampura for two halves of the same concert.But I am not a musician- will give that exercise for almost all musicians who may read this thread.

Genuinely appreciate all your great answers. From today you are Tambura Certified Cloud Architect .

Uday,
Are you there in this thread any thoughts from your side atleast on differing opinion/answers with Thenpaanan.

rajeshnat
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#23 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by rajeshnat »

thenpaanan wrote: 19 Apr 2018, 06:22 Rajeshnat,

Indeed I treated your list of questions as a board exam paper ("Kindly start the answer to a new question on a new sheet of paper.") :) :) :)

It took a while but I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise.

Thanks!
-T
Thenpaanan,
Your answers are elaborate and staying extremely contextual. The crux of my question is just one "Can 2 tampuras ever achieve synchronization and can 1 tampura just do the same". You have given a clear answer but to me based on discussions over the period of few years, the house is bit divided and few are bit away from you on the applicability and necessity of two concurrent tamburas.

May be if I am musician this is what I will do , bring 2 solid tambura stroking artists of say the calibre of Tambura Vaidyanathan(no 2 tamburas ) and bring one aoustic Miraj Tambura . Make them alternatively play the same tampura for two halves of the same concert.But I am not a musician- will give that exercise for almost all musicians who may read this thread.

Genuinely appreciate all your great answers. From today you are Tambura Certified Cloud Architect . :mrgreen:

Uday,
Are you there in this thread any thoughts from your side atleast on differing opinion/answers with Thenpaanan.

thenpaanan
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#24 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

Sachi_R wrote: 15 Apr 2018, 09:57 Masterly answers. Thenpaanan 🙏🏻

However I wonder about standing waves. The standing wave phenomenon explains how the two waves create spatial troughs and peaks by interaction. In this instance, I think the idea or two tamburas is to create a canvas of resonance with slightly different timbres and a richness akin to the warp and woof of a two colour weave.
Thanks, Sachi_R.

I am embarrassed about my inapt analogy for the two tambura phenomenon. Rather than standing wave I should have said "sympathetic resonance". When you have two high resonance instruments in proximity there should be no surprise when they interact. In fact I had this interesting experience once (and only once) when we tuned two tamburas about eight feet from each other. For a while nothing unusual happened but the moment the second tambura got tuned perfectly the volume instantaneously ramped up almost making me jump out of my skin. Since I was not familiar with the tambura I assumed that this was just the usual sound of the tambura, but the owner told me that normally it is not so loud. After some trial and error we discovered that the "boom" only happened when the two tamburas were within some distance of each other and the angle between the tamburas also mattered. Perhaps it is not an accident that when you see two tamburas on a stage they are usually placed slightly facing each other.

Of course we did not do this scientifically but my conjecture from the data available is that the two tamburas were showing sympathetic resonance. In fact, when only one of the tamburas was strummed it sounded like there was a low hum from the other, but it was hard to be sure because it was difficult to localize the hum. So my guess again is that the second tambura was responding to the sound waves from the other first tambura since they were tuned to the same pitch. I have noticed a similar phenomenon with my piano -- my daughter likes to sing loudly into the cabinet of the piano because the piano responds back with a sound at the same pitch that sounds roughly like a tambura even though no keys have been struck.

In any case at the event I describe above with the two tamburas the boom was so loud that the singer found it very disconcerting. She said she could not hear her own voice above the sound of the two tamburas and at first we offered to face one of the tamburas away to reduce the resonance, but ultimately we decided not to use a second tambura. To my ear it was not just that the volume was too loud but it became hard to hear the notes of the tambura clearly -- instead it sounded like a (very loud) buzzing bee and that is not ideal for a singer either.

Just to show that, contrary to my rather boyish enthusiasm, two acoustic tamburas can sometimes be less desirable than one. :roll:

-T

Sachi_R
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#25 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by Sachi_R »

Thenpaanan,
Acoustic enclosures do have resonance at certain frequencies.

It is very interesting to study that booming effect caused by two tamburas....

At the end of all this discussion I hope we are NOT putting off people from using real tamburas.. 😀

rajeshnat
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#26 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by rajeshnat »

Thenpaanan
Thank you for your post #24. Just for my own understanding is Sympathetic resonance the same as 11th standard Tuning fork physics lab. I vaguely remember that tuning fork and resonance that I mugged up then. Is there a difference between resonance and sympathetic resonance when you say both, may be this is the first time I am hearing sympathetic resonance?

rshankar
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#27 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by rshankar »

thenpaanan wrote: 19 Apr 2018, 21:02In any case at the event I describe above with the two tamburas the boom was so loud that the singer found it very disconcerting. She said she could not hear her own voice above the sound of the two tamburas and at first we offered to face one of the tamburas away to reduce the resonance, but ultimately we decided not to use a second tambura. To my ear it was not just that the volume was too loud but it became hard to hear the notes of the tambura clearly -- instead it sounded like a (very loud) buzzing bee and that is not ideal for a singer either.
Isn't it true that Smt. MSS used 2 tambUrAs?

thenpaanan
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#28 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote: 19 Apr 2018, 21:32 Thenpaanan
Thank you for your post #24. Just for my own understanding is Sympathetic resonance the same as 11th standard Tuning fork physics lab. I vaguely remember that tuning fork and resonance that I mugged up then. Is there a difference between resonance and sympathetic resonance when you say both, may be this is the first time I am hearing sympathetic resonance?
Resonance and sympathetic resonance are very similar in my mind. Here are the definitions from wikipedia:

"In physics, resonance is a phenomenon in which a vibrating system or external force drives another system to oscillate with greater amplitude at specific frequencies. Frequencies at which the response amplitude is a relative maximum are known as the system's resonant frequencies or resonance frequencies."

"Sympathetic resonance or sympathetic vibration is a harmonic phenomenon wherein a formerly passive string or vibratory body responds to external vibrations to which it has a harmonic likeness. The classic example is demonstrated with two similar tuning-forks of which one is mounted on a wooden box. If the other one is struck and then placed on the box, then muted, the un-struck mounted fork will be heard."

Resonance is the more basic term and to me it means the property of a system that it responds strongly (i.e. with higher amplitude) when vibrating in some some frequencies more than others. Sympathetic resonance is when the vibrations of one resonant system induce similar vibrations (i.e. same or related frequencies) in another resonant system by _minimal_ energy transfer. So if you just tap a tuning fork its vibrations resonate to its designed frequency even though you did not hit it at that frequency. This is resonance. If you take a vibrating tuning fork and merely touch it or bring close to (with the air as the transference medium) another tuning fork designed to the same or related (i.e. multiples of) frequency then the second fork starts vibrating as well. The fact that you did not have to hit the second fork but merely bring it close to another vibrating fork with the same frequency makes its sympathetic resonance as opposed to just resonance.

Resonance/sympathetic resonance is a property of all periodic oscillating systems not just sound -- mechanical systems like pendulums, electromagnetics, planetary motion, etc. There is the famous example of a bridge falling down because the wind blew just right to cause the bridge to oscillate at its resonance frequency.

Other forum readers may have a different/better explanation.

-T

thenpaanan
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#29 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by thenpaanan »

rshankar wrote: 19 Apr 2018, 23:52 Isn't it true that Smt. MSS used 2 tambUrAs?
She probably did (I don't remember to be honest) but so do many Hindustani vocalists for sure. Two acoustic tamburas tuned to the same pitch don't always boom and I don't know the necessary conditions to make it happen. I discovered it by accident. But if they do boom there are ways to reduce the effect (by turning the tambura to a different angle, slightly mistuning one, etc).

-T

Tvm
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#30 Re: Tambura - On the Brink

Post by Tvm »

Greetings to all rasikas , are there any ancient or analytical books available that historically explains the soothing effects rendered by Carnatic ragas preferably with English meaning .

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