Sitar – Legacy of Classic Indian Music with Aloke Dasgupta
by Michell Spoden
Sitar is a stringed instrument that is very popular in classic Indian music. I had a brief chat with a skilled sitar player from India. Aloke Dasgupta, 60, is based in California but tours the world to entertain hundreds of thousands of music lovers with his skill and passion for sitar.
Michell: Aloke, when did you begin playing music? Did you have to practice or did it come natural?
Aloke Dasgupta: It was at the age of 9 years and I started practicing with my uncle.
Michell: What kind of musician do you consider yourself to be?
Aloke Dasgupta: A Creative musician.
Michell: Can you please tell us about your Indian cultural roots?
Aloke Dasgupta: I was born in a Hindu family. I speak Bengali language. I also know, Hindi English, and some Sanskrit. Although my parents were not musicians, my uncles were.
Michell: Tell our readers a bit about sitar. Where does it come from originally?
Aloke Dasgupta: Around 1296 to 1316, at the court of Alauddin Khilji, there was a poet/musician named Amir Khusro. He created a Veena based on the ancient Indian Veena and put three strings on it, and named it “Sehtaar”.
In Persian “Seh” means 3 and “Taar” means string. There were two brass strings and one iron string along with
14 frets on that “sehtaar”. It is considered that Amir Khuro had invented the Sitar and Amritsen and Nihaalsen of Tansen’s son Suratsen’s lineage corrected and modified it.
Michell: Have you play any other instruments?
Aloke Dasgupta: I played Indonesian Gamelan as an Ethnomusicology student in San Diego State. I used to play Surbahar but it was too big for me. I played a little Violin too. Also try to play a little Tabla (Indian Drum).
Michell: What is your deepest thought when it comes to music?
Aloke Dasgupta: One life is not enough; way to go. It is like fathomless ocean.
Michell: Do you believe that in order to be a great musician you must be spiritual?
Aloke Dasgupta: Yes I do. Depends on what actually “spiritual” means. If you mean “religious”, I don’t want to say anything because religion is personal belief. But this much I can say that Music is divine and the best form of meditation. One does not need anything else.
Michell: Do you teach any music classes
Aloke Dasgupta: I do teach classes in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, and Orange County in California.
Michell: What is the best advice you can give to musicians today?
Aloke Dasgupta: I believe only in one thing: practice, practice, and practice. Everyone is not as talented as some gifted musicians, but if somebody practices sincerely, God also helps them. So be sincere with your practice.
Michell: Please share with our viewers your most recent goals.
Aloke Dasgupta: I have only one goal, which is to achieve the highest level of music even if I have to take many births.
Michell: Thank you so much for this interview and for enlightening us.
To learn more about Aloke Dasgupta and his work, visit the website http://sitarconcert.com/.
About the Author
Michell Spoden is the author of Stricken Yet Crowned and is also pursuing a transitional housing project for woman with an agricultural aspect. She has a degree in Business Science Administration and is finishing her bachelor’s in Project Management.