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How to Play Indian Sitar Raags on a Piano: Twenty-four Raags for Night and Day.

How to Play Indian Sitar Raags on a Piano: Twenty-four Raags for Night and Day, by John Pitts. Lulu Press, Inc., 2017.;; 258 pp., $20.43.

How to Play Indian Sitar Raags on a Piano by John Pitts is like a combination of a world music textbook, a "teach yourself book and a repertoire book. The author's purpose is very clear: to open the world of Indian classical music to Western classical and jazz musicians.

The book opens with an introduction describing raags (also known as ragas), basically the Indian equivalent of scales or keys. Pitts then includes an extensive written explanation of the raag system, how to play the music and how to improvise on it. The rest of the book includes 24 full raags, as well as an ending section with more ideas that can be mixed in when improvising.

I found the written explanations of the music to be fascinating, albeit sometimes overwhelming. This could be a fun experiment for someone interested in Indian music or just wanting to try something new. The book might be most useful to someone who already has some experience with Indian music, as I think it could take a newcomer many weeks to feel comfortable.


Notated melodies within each raag are included with variations and improvisation examples. Although I appreciate how specific these are, many of them are difficult to read rhythmically. It would take an advanced player to understand the notation and execute it correctly. I think they could be used to teach Indian music in small segments for students or less advanced players, or more advanced players might enjoy the challenge of playing it all. The book is written so you can play the music alone by combining the melody with a drone pattern or as a duet or duo. Playing all of the parts as a solo seems daunting, but I think it could be fun as a duet/duo.--Reviewed by Angela Miller-Niles, NCTM, Wayne State College

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Title Annotation:Piano
Author:Miller-Niles, Angela
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2017
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