The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

April 22, 2018

two strings three instruments one recording

dutar (tuned in unison), qifteli (octave), small dutar (unison)

on these instruments, the strings are widely separated; the
dutar has silk strings, qifteli metal, small dutar, nylon. the
fretting on the dutars is similar, the qifteli is unique. the
right-hand articulation and rhythm is similar on all three; the
left-hand is very different. the small dutar allows for moving
fourths and even fifths for example; the larger dutar has more
sustain and allows for moving thirds. the qifteli with its
octave strings allows for dual lines. on the dutars are strings
are fairly loose and on the qifteli, the lower octave, a saz
string, is very loose. the music is a problem: how to create
solo improvisations that break rhythms and avoid dulcimer style.
i'm fascinated when the instruments themselves seem to take over
and my fingering has to follow suit, as if my hands had a life
of their own. oddly, this is physically exhausting and my
fingers have some pain after play. the recording was created,
one instrument after another, with perhaps four or five seconds
between them; i edited the intervals down to one or two seconds
to preserve a sense of continuity.

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