Lecture explains Indian influence on American Rock

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Adam Tanner plays his sitar Thursday, March 2. Many people in the crowd took pictures or a video of the instrument. Kael Knight/ Sun Star Photo credit: Kael Knight

A crowd was treated to a live performance of “Rag khamaj,” played on the sitar, an Indian instrument used in classical music of the region. Adam Tanner gave a lecture and live demonstration revolving around the sitar on Thursday afternoon. Planned seating soon ran out and by the end of the performance the stage was packed with people.

The sitar is an extremely complex instrument that takes quite a while to tune.

Tanner, current Snedden Chair for the journalism department, explained how sitar music became wildly popular in the U.S. in the 1960s and was appropriated by western culture. Sitar music can be heard in famous songs such as “Paint it, Black” by the Rolling Stones and “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles.

At first the sitar was used in pop culture for it’s unique “twangy” sound, but later, as more musicians realized the rich history of the instrument, there was a shift in the west towards a more classical, respectful approach to playing sitar. Tanner went on to explain how he had learned to play the instrument while in California.

After his lecture Tanner played a classical Indian piece titled “Rag khamaj” on his sitar. “Rag khamaj” is a well known Indian rag used in both a classical and a modern setting.

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