Electric Sitar and a Robotic Tabla!

Let’s start form the basics. Sitar and Tabla are both Indian musical instruments, widely used in Indian Classical Music. So what has Electronics and Robotics has got to do with it?


Yesterday, I attended a concert by Ajay Kapur. It was a part of the NUS Arts Fest. It was not quite a typical Indian Classical Music concert, though it involved a Sitar and a ‘Tabla’.

Ajay Kapur, the composer, the performer, the engineer, has wired up his Sitar to make it electric! And to make sure he always has his rhythms to jam along, he created a robotic drummer (Tabla).

Nope, this is not your electric guitar and a copy of Garage Band. His setup was much more complex, though it did involve a Mac. The idea was to have an interactive drummer, which was mechanical/robotic. Basically drum sticks activated by solenoids.

While the setup and the control of the Tabla using the Sitar, was a really interesting part of the concert, especially with my personal dabbling in it, what really caught my attention was the use of electronics and computers with Indian Classical Music. Not that it has not been done before, but his approach to it indicated that it is progressing to newer levels and allowing space for more expression.

Music, I believe is nothing more than a form of expression. Various kinds of music allow musicians to express different things. Newer and novel methods of music composition or performance allow newer forms of expression.

Now, I should really get back to working on my OSC implementation.