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The original Optigan owner’s manual tantalizingly lists “sitar” as one of its many featured instruments, but in fact no sitar sounds ever appeared on either an Optigan disc or even the original studio master tapes. When we first started making new Optigan discs, “sitar” definitely made the short list, if only to rectify that situation.
The only question was- how to do it? Putting a straight-ahead sitar sound on the keyboard couldn’t really work all that well, since it’s not a sustaining sound, and we didn’t want to do something like our Pianoscape disc with this one. We thought about doing a “raga rock” type disc, with sitar-laced riffs on the chord buttons and a more typical keyboard sound on the keys, but that didn’t really get us fired up either.
So we decided to try a pseudo-traditional take. Since Indian classical music consists of melody and percussion accompanied by drone (ie no Western style chords or harmonic motion), we decided to put various drones on the SFX tabs, tabla loops on the chord buttons, and 37 different sitar riffs on the keys. Given the way the Optigan’s sounds constantly loop in sync with each other, this allows for an endless recombination of sitar riffs. For instance, you can play the first half of one riff, then play a different key and get the 2nd half of another riff. The video shows clearly how this works.
This is NOT a traditional Optigan disc setup. It’s the first in our series of “One Finger Composer” discs. You can’t play your own tunes with this disc, rather it’s a “raga generator” of sorts.
Rama resides in San Diego, CA and is the leader of UBUV (Universal Beats Universal Vibe), an electronic music and dance performance group focused on raising the vibratory level of consciousness within individuals through his art.
From Sacramento, California, Justin DeHart has studied tabla under the tutelage of maestro Swapan Chaudhuri at the Ali Akbar College in San Rafael, CA, and at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. He has furthered his studies recently with Arup Chattopadhyay and Kartik Seshadri in San Diego. In addition to learning tabla, he has traveled to India on a Fulbright scholarship to study the South Indian Mridangam (barrel drum) for a period of nine months with T.H. Subash Chandran in 2001.
Music produced, edited, and mastered by Pea Hicks.
Engineered by Justin DeHart
Disc creation software, disc production cover artwork and jacket layout by Robert Becker
Cover artwork by Robert Becker
LEFT HAND: Tabla.
RIGHT HAND: Sitar.
SPECIAL EFFECTS SWITCHES: 1. Fast Tamboura Drone, 2. Slow Tamboura Drone A, 3. Slow Tamboura Drone B, 4. Harmonium Drone, 5. Tarb Strum.