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Re: Sitar Looping

Chris said:
>  I guess this seems relivant to the sitar situation
> because like indian music, avant-guard jazz is
> nonminimalist and nonrepetitive.

Not to flame you, but I must disagree there, Chris.  I think Indian music 
both "minimalist" and extremely repetitive.  I would argue the "minimalism"
in several areas:  first in terms of limited melodic scope -- each raga has
a very well-defined scale of allowable notes (sometimes only 5, usually no
more than 7) and all improvisations in a raga must adhere to a very 
melodic contour.  That is, notes must be played in a certain order going up
the scale, and another predetermined order in going down the scale.
Sometimes this is a straightforward stepwise pattern, other times it
involves a more zig-zag progression.  But each raga has its own very clear
melodic "rules."

A second "minimal" factor is the constantly recurring tonic drone, as well
as the absence of any harmony.  The rigidly-defined melodic contour (called
"chalan" -- Hindi for "movement") by its nature demands a great deal of
repetition.  However, it is a challenge to the musician to keep things 
by introducing subtle variations and unexpected twists on the "rules" of 

A third "minimalist" and repetitive area is rhythm.  Indian rhythms (called
"tala-s") are cyclical.  That is, they both begin and end on the first 
For instance, in counting out an Indian rhythm (let's say in a cycle of six
beats), one would never stop on 6.  It would always be counted as one / two
/ three / four / five / six / one.  The rhythm would be inconclusive and
unresolved without that all-important first/last beat.  This same cyclical
pattern occurs in composed melodies as well, with the same emphasis on
"one."  Further rhythmic repetitiveness occurs in standard tabla
accompaniment.  When accompanying a vocalist or instrumentalist a tabla
player will play a set combination of drum strokes outlining the main beats
of the rhythm cycle.  This is called "theka."  The theka will be played
approximately for 85 - 90% of the performance.  Similar to the melodic
"toying with expectations," a tabla player is also expected to break the
monotony by occasionally dropping a beat, or doubling or even quadrupling a
beat every now and again to keep things interesting.  But again, outside of
small breaks for soli (sometimes as little as 1 cycle, more commonly 2 - 4
cycles of the tala) the drumming is extremely repetitive.

It's interesting to note that in the late 20th century musical movement of
"Minimalism" some of the main founders and practitioners such as La Monte
Young and Terry Riley have spent many years studying Indian classical 

mere do paise ("my two cents")