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Shri Gautam Choudury
An interview with Shri Gautam Choudhury... Shri Gautam Choudhury, settled now in Holland for the last 40 years, is one of the finest Harmonica Players from India. He was associated with Shri Salil Choudhury for a long time in his musical journey and has done several recordings along with Salil da. Gautamji emphasizes on learning the Basic Theory of Music to learn Harmonica. ³Internet is a ocean of knowledge on Harmonica with great stuff for Learning from the international players´. He considers Toots Thielemans as his Guru and role model. Watch out www.salilda.com He suggests mastering different scales on the C harmonica would be a wonderful way to learn. Especially the G, Gm, F, Ef , D are some of the beautiful scales he says.......read ahead
1. How did the passion for Harmonica begin, how did you learn to play?
I must have been about 7-8 years old at school when another school kid brought this little strange instrument which produced heavenly sound. He refused to let me touch it. I decided there and then that I must have one of those things. A year later my grandma gave me some money on my birthday and with that I bought a "Wren" tremolo
A great way to make friends. Flute. So. Guitar.and it is very difficult to play it well. It sounded beautiful and after a couple of days I was playing "jana gana mana" ! All by ear of course ! 2. But it has severe limitations. Toots Thielemans etc (all to be found in YouTube) and study their tone. A friend of mine once said "With the music in your pocket you'll have music in your heart" ! 3. It also depends on how good your musical ear is and how good is your ability to play a song exactly like the original without missing (or corrupting) a note. listen to other International Harmonica players such as Jerry Murad.then you can play wonderful music alone or with other instruments. Trumpet. their techniques etc. You wouldn't like to play Bhairavi Raag in Sitaar without years of practice and study. What styles of music do you play on Harmonica? I guess all styles ! I play western music. What do you think makes the harmonica a great instrument? Its an instrument you can take with you anywhere. A good player must have a good ear and must be good at reading notes. Harmonica is a very versatile and a complex instrument. Latin American music. Violin. So. 4. Unfortunately not all of us are born with the same "musical ear" ! If you want to learn any other instrument like a Sitar. It is also comparable to any other orchestral instrument (Sax. It is very easy to play a harmonica badly . Indian film songs. Violin. Larry Adler. Tommy Reilly. my advice would be to develop your knowledge about the harmonica. you must learn it well . why we do not want to learn the harmonica seriously ? You don't need a Harmonica teacher to learn the basic concepts of music . is familiar with the basic chord progression and in general prepared to work hard to master the instrument. some western classical pieces etc. Cello etc) . their harmonica holding. Bengali modern songs.which I think is a "Must" before you learn the harmonica. understand various key (scale) structures. Which way would you recommend "Learning by ear" or "Learning by formal method" ? "Learning by Ear" is very tempting and I guess a lot of us prefer to use that method. the music theory and also develop your ear. To play it well. Also. If you play it well then you make even more friends and they take you seriously. Basically I love good melody and good rhythm with nice arrangement. Synthesiser etc you go to a teacher ( Guru) and learn the theory and all the techniques to master the instrument. .harmonica. play whenever you feel like and it gives other people a lot of happiness.
.all this is my personal preference.. Use the Internet to increase your knowledge on Harmonica.When I started playing there was no Internet. Sadly I can not name any Indian player yet as a role model. Harmonica players have access to a huge number of resources . learn/practice and learn/practice.make use of them. But . I use only the C-Harmonica. 7.you are just abusing the bandwidth and creating a bad reputation of Harmonica. . Clean the surface and the mouth plate well with a clean cloth." up and down using short-notes/long notes using "single notes" and make sure each note is clean ! DO NOT try to play in "chords". re pa ni" etc. it is airtight (no air leakage) and it sounds wonderful. Use any music book (Indian books are fine) to practice your notes. Use variations like "sa ga pa. You will create noise.not the 4-Octave Hohner due to its slightly fatter mouth plate. Now. If the harmonica is in tune and is airtight with a smooth slide action. 6. and why do you prefer it over others? It doesn't matter which model one is playing.For example : just practice "sa re ga ma. Do not start uploading songs in Youtube randomly .. and what should they do to correct it? The most common problem is not to take the Harmonica as a serious musical instrument and just start playing any song very badly ! My advice is to take it seriously as a serious musical instrument. Learn to read notes. Once again : Listen to other International players. Which brand -model harmonica is your favorite. After playing for a while tap the harmonica hard on your palm and leave it outside for 10 min before putting it back in the case. I play Hohner and Hering. sa re dha. Use any vocal excercise book for this. You can play in "Octaves" . I prefer the 3-Octave Hohner . Try not to fall into the trap of playing a song and quickly upload it to YouTube and expect people to say "Wow ! You are great !" Sadly that is what I have seen so far . A good player makes any brand sound great. how to repair it etc. it is good enough. 5..but it requires a lot of practice and the harmonica must be in perfect tune. What do you think is the most effective way to practice? First you must know how to blow and draw cleanly . Besides my 4-Octave Hering.. This is more prevelant in India... I like the Hering because I like its mouth plate (being slightly narrower it fits my mouth better). What are the common problem for beginners. A bad player will find an excuse to blame the brand/model etc. Write down these sequences first. Be inquisitive and humble and learn/practice. how to maintain it.
9. I also played the Bass Harmonica for many years with a couple of groups in Europe. I used to have my own Harmonica Group "Bloworms" (many years ago) in Kolkata with me playing the Chord Harmonica and my friend Parimal Dasgupta playing the lead (Chromatic). We also don't have any harmonica teaching methods/Teachers/Schools to teach harmonica.. Unfortunately we don't have any well-known harmonica player (yet) who plays the instrument correctly according to the International standard. I wrote about SPAH recently in HarmonicaIndia.. They also have many brilliant players as role models.. I don't want to repeat those answers. No role models either.. We would also request you for a) Your memories with peer group / people you were associated with« To write about all my memories/peer groups would take a long time.. The movement is very encouraging but they have no future unless the instrument is studied seriously like any other serious instrument. I am also a member of NHL (National Harmonica League <UK) and SPAH (US)." using different notes as "sa". You can also write to me or call me. do not take it seriously. So. I also know many International players quite well.. Shortly. You MUST learn how to play a song in a different scale than just C. It is international music language. 8. Also it has longtime been a standard in Mumbai/Chennai Film music world also.Play "sa re ga ma. I have met Jerry Murad and his Harmonicats. How do you foresee the Harmonica Movement as we see in a few cities inIndia. There is still rampant "vamping" and "hand vibrato" coupled with futile efforts to play Hindi Film songs incorrectly ! Nobody even tries to better himself/herself. How do you see Harmonica as a musical instrument being perceived in Indiaas differently from other countries ? It is not percieved as a musical instrument in India and it is not really taken seriously. Toots Thielemans etc.. Tommy Reilly. try the note "D" (5D) as sa for example. In other countries harmonica is taken a bit more seriously and nearly every harmonica player I met can read music. My advice would be to start learning the staff notation. A few tips and advice for the Harmonica Club members « I guess. Primarily because we. the harmonica players. If you feel that my answers are not sufficient. let me know. . I knew Larry Adler quite well. the answers to the above questions may give you many hints. 10.
one cassette of Hindi songs of Kishore . any online site where these can be purchased). one hindi cassette of Salil Chowdhury songs "A Tuneful Tribute to Salil Chowdhury" (1993). Many world class players had performed in that documentary."Tribute to Kishore" (1994).cfm?ID=11&TrackID=81667 . These days everything is pirated! the latest upload of Shri Ghoudury's uploads on the net. b) Discography (details of the albums released..com/redirect. http://ww. I have recorded three cassettes and two CDs so far (many years ago). music company.dedicated to Harmonica. I have also participated in numerous Harmonica festivals and know many International players. I don't know if HMV still sells them ! Try the Internet.In the '70s we made a BBC documentary called "Playing The Thing" .. One cassette and the CD of Bengali songs of Salil Chowdhury "Durer Thikana" (1996) .smashits.
Sa** Draw.4........... Ma....you need to draw or inhale air ......i used the notation "ch" ...7..Re*........ so to play SARGAM you need to start from the the 9th node i. ex sa* ... whereas the tones Re .Pa . HOW TO PLAY SARGAM As it is clear from the above figure that that medium pitch' is starting form the 9th node which is "Sa" .you need to blow or exhale air .Ma*...... for "Pa" ..Dha.10 Blow..Ma..........Re.Dha ...Pa. for "Ni" .....Pa..1....... As shown in the above figure. ni# etc..Pa*.. for "Re" .you need to draw or inhale air . "Sa" .you need to draw or inhale air ..... Pa .2.....Pa#.....9.Dha and Ni are produced by inhaling the air from the mouth-organ.....e...... Ga and Pa by exhaling the air in to the mouth organ .Sa* blow draw blow draw blow draw draw blow ...Dha* To represent the lower pitch I used the notation "#" (i. it must be noted that.Ga .. for "Ga" .Re#..The reason i want you to learn playing it because i believe that if you are comfortable with SARGAM you can play any song on your own.Ma..Sa). But there is a exception ..Sa.. for example : dha(ch)... Before start learning to play any song in the mouth-organ you must learn to play the SARGAM ( Sa ...Sa#.. Ma .. As shown int the figure that for playing tone : "Sa" ... first the Low pitch followed by the medium pitch followed by the high pitch......Pa#. a 10 holes diatonic mouth organ consists of three sets of SARGAM ... you need to blow and draw air alternatively while moving left to right on the mouth organ. out of these three the Medium pitch is mostly used .. Ni . To represent the use of changer (or the button on the right side) of chromatic mouthorgan) ...3..Ga*.e on the left part of mouthorgan) ...Ga..Ni. for "Dha" .8. Ni .Sa. for "Ma" . Re .. for So to play Sa .Ga#..ex dha# . ni* etc.Sa*....Ma .5..Dha.. Re .6..... It must be noted that all the tones from the mouth-otgan can not be produced by just exhaling air in the mouth-organ ...you need to blow or exhale air . To represent the higher pitch I used the notation "*" (i.....Ni#. but almost half of the tones are produced by inhaling the air ...Ni.e on the right part of mouthorgan)..you need to blow or exhale air .. Sa in sequence. So Playing SARGAM consists of : ............Ga..you need to draw or inhale air . Dha.. Ga . for example : we can produce Sa ....Re... to play the note "Dha" you need to draw the air and again to play "Ni" you need to draw the air.
To listen SARGAM played by me ... After you are comfortable with SARGAM you should proceed to learn playing your first song .e. as Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa* Sa* Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa e.....i.......e.i.....e.i..........e >Practise playing this SARGAM atleast 100 times .........e.....e... You should be so much comfortable with this SARGAM that if someone play a note on the mouthorgan u must recognize which note it was.i.......e..i..i..i.... click here After playing this SARGAM you should also play the reverse of SARGAM in continuation of SARGAM. ..i..
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