Kanjeera Lessons: Manual

Introduction

One of the classical instruments. Used primarily at bhajans by Sai Devotees

Sairam All,

I am not a professional teacher but this training is being shared as a offering to Swami. All of the lessons prepared are my own imagination. As there is no reference for any of the information on this website anywhere else I would kindly request everyone to forgive me for any non-clarifications. I will clarify as much as possible with Swami’s Grace!

Right Click and save Kanjeera Training Manual here…

Typical Kanjira….

Typical Tambourine (Kanjeera)

Primary Sounds

Kanjira produces two main sounds.
a. Ghum
b. Tha or ka

What fingers produce the two sounds?

Primary Fingers Position

Kanjira Holding Positions

Let us see how one should hold a kanjira. We have two situations
a. Those who play kanjira with their right hand and hold the kanjira with their left hand (Right Hand Players) and
b. Those who play kanjira with their left hand and hold the kanjira with their right hand (Left Hand Players)

a. Right Hand Players: Please look at the figure to check the position of Kanjira and finger positions…

Right Handers Kanjeera Playing Position

b. Left Hand Players: Please look at the figure to check the position of Kanjira and finger positions…

Left Handed Kanjeera Playing Position

Fundamentals

The fundamentals for any kanjira player will be to produce the sounds both “Ghum” using the thumb and “tha” using the rest of fingers. Therefore first thing would be to feel the sounds and also the moments of the fingers (in general your hand). You will have to practice them forever to keep your fingers flexible enough to play kanjira even after you become a good player

Fundamentals 1:
Using (Index / Middle / Ring and Little Finger) all together hitting in the assigned area to produce the sound “THA”. Therefore play 8 times to produce “tha” i.e. hit with all fingers except thumb in the middle of the Kanjira for 8 times producing “tha” sound. Maintain the speed with which you hit. Practice non-stop at least for 5 minutes.

“tha” “tha” “tha” “tha” “tha” “tha” “tha” “tha”
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8

Fundamental 1

Fundamentals 2:
Using Thumb hitting in the assigned area to produce the sound “Ghum”. Therefore play 8 times to produce “Ghum” i.e. hit with thumb only in the assigned area towards your body side of the Kanjira for 8 times producing “Ghum” sound. Maintain the speed and practice for 5 minutes non stop.

“Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum”
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8

Fundamentals 3:
Play 4 times to produce “Ghum” i.e. hit with thumb only in the assigned area towards your body side of the Kanjira 4 times producing “Ghum” sound. Maintain the speed with which you hit and immediately with your rest of the fingers hit 4 times to produce “tha” sound. Continue this for 5 minutes non stop

“Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””tha””tha””tha””tha”
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8

Fundamental 3

Fundamentals 4:
Varying your force exerted sometimes by hitting very hard and some times softer (Lighter). Varying the first couple of fundamentals interms of force would add little melody to the sound. Please see the figure for your understanding how to produce sound varying force…

Hard Light Concept

“Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum””Ghum”
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7
Hard – Light – Light – Hard – Light – Hard – Light

“tha””tha””tha””tha””tha””tha””tha”
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7
Hard – Light – Light – Hard – Light – Hard – Light

Now to understand how the flow of the beat will be? Please look at this figure…to get an idea

Fundamental 4

Fundamentals 5:

Now based on the Fundamental 4 beat we will vary some force of hitting bringing in some rhythm as shown below. Now we will use a combination of the “Ghum” and “tha” together to get some meaningful sound…
“Ghum””tha””tha””Ghum””tha””Ghum””tha”
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7
Hard – Light – Light – Hard – Light – Hard – Light

Check this figure for your understanding of Fundamental 5:

Fundamental 6

The Most Common Bhajan Beats

90% of the bhajans are covered using the following beats. We are going to learn from the basics of this beat to the refined full fledged beat that will bring in the melody to the bhajan.
The following are some of the bhajans that can be played using these beats..Therefore please kindly practice these beats for these bhajans

1. Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha
2. Jaya Guru Omkara Jaya Jaya Sadguru Omkara Om
3. Devi Bhavani Maa Jaya Sai Bhavani Maa
4. Jaya Jagadeesha Harey Jaya Govinda Harey…
5. Ram Ram Bhajomana Harey Harey…
6. Gopala Radha Lola Murali Lola Nandalala
7. Sai Baba Tera Naam Sathya Sai Baba Tera Naam …
8. Anjaneya Veera Hanumantha Sura…
9. Subramanyam Subramanyam
10. Arti

Please note that these are not the only beats that we play for these bhajans. As said we have to refine to bring in melody to the beats and those refinements will be discussed in later lessons. Therefore, these beats are used most often. All the bhajans that fall in the above categories can be played using these beats. Please feel free to play for any bhajans.

Based on my personal experience I used to just play for a Sundaram Bhajans on the Tape or CD’s or Center bhajans but very low and slow until you get hold of the beats and can control the sound with your variations of hitting the kanjira. Well, enough said let’s begin to start with our first basic lesson 1 and so on……

Lesson 1

Based on your understanding of the two primary sounds. Now we will start using different combinations of the two sounds to create a beat…

“Ghum” “Ghum” (dragging of ghum) “tha”

The First “Ghum” will be lighter one and followed immediately by a harder “Ghum” creating the feel of a drag (to make a gap) before hitting finally “tha” (harder).


Lesson 1

 

Lesson 2

Based on your understanding of the two primary sounds. Now we will start using different combinations of the two sounds to create a beat…

“Ghum” “tha” “Ghum (dragging)” “tha”

Note that the first “Ghum” will be regularly hit by thumb followed by “tha” (lighter) and then by harder “Ghum” and dragging more and concluding the beat with “tha”.
The gap between the dragging “Ghum” and ending “tha” (harder) remains the same as of Lesson 1.

 

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Based on your understanding of the two primary sounds. Now we will start using different combinations of the two sounds to create a beat…

“Ghum” “Ghum” (dragging) “tha” “tha”

If we add “tha” at the end to Lesson 1 becomes Lesson 3. Here the first Ghum will be regular Ghum but Second will be dragging ghum and the last two “tha” will be hit immediately with out any gap between them.

 

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Based on your understanding of the two primary sounds. Now we will start using different combinations of the two sounds to create a beat…

“Ghum” “tha” “Ghum” (dragging) “tha” “tha”

If an additional “tha” is added at the end of Lesson 2 becomes Lesson 4. The only difference will be that the last two “tha” will be hit immediately without any gap between them.

 

Lesson 4

Using your fingers:

By now you should be feeling comfortable working with the sounds and feel little flexible with your hands. Therefore let’s start using your fingers mainly INDEX and MIDDLE FINGER.

Fundamentals 6:

Now based on the Fundamental 1 beat we will vary some force of hitting bringing in some rhythm as shown below. We will replace “Tha” with two fingers INDEX and MIDDLE FINGERS instead of whole hand. How??????
“Tha””tha””tha””tha””tha””tha””tha””tha”
Index – Middle – Index – Middle – Index – Middle – Index – Middle

Check this figure for your understanding of Fundamental 6:

Using your fingers

Fundamentals 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10:

Based on the Fundamental 6 we will now only replace the “tha’s” with MIDDLE and INDEX fingers.
Please follow the rules as stated when you replace tha’s with your fingers……(it is applicable to both right and left hand players)

 

1. GHUM remains the same (USE your thumb always
2. Order of “tha’s” to be replaced in any fundamentals 1 through 5 will be..

a. First “tha” will be played by “MIDDLE FINGER ONLY”

b. Second “tha” in the fundamental will be by “INDEX FINGER”

c. Third , Fifth and Seventh “tha’s” will be played by “MIDDLE FINGER in the designated area only

d. Fourth , Sixth and Eight “tha’s” will be played by “INDEX FINGER” in the designated area only

Therefore let’s see how this applies to our fundamentals 1 through 5 respectively
FUNDAMENTAL 6:

tha   –   tha-     tha-       tha-       tha-      tha-       tha-       tha

Middle-Index-Middle-Index-Middle-Index-Middle-Index

FUNDAMENTAL 7:

      • This remains the same and no change with respect to Fundamental 2

FUNDAMENTAL 8:

Ghum-  Ghum-   Ghum- Ghum-      tha-     tha-      tha-        tha

Thumb-Thumb-Thumb-Thumb-Middle-Index-Middle-Index

FUNDAMENTAL 9:

      • Note: In this there are only 7 beats involved. But you will follow the concept “Hard Light Light Hard Light Hard Light”

tha-                       tha-                 tha-                   tha-                     tha-                   tha-                  tha

Middle(harder)-Index(light)-Middle(light)-Index(Hard)-Middle(light)-Index(hard)-Middle(light))

FUNDAMENTAL 10:

Ghu-      tha-       tha-    Ghum-    tha-      Ghum-    tha

Thumb-Middle-Index-Thumb-Middle-Thumb-Middle


Main Lesson Beat 1

This is main lesson beat that covers almost 90% of sai bhajans. If you can master this then you will have no problem in leading the bhajans at sai centers.

What is the beat?

“Ghum”     “ku”        “tha”                  “ka”               “Ghum”   “Ghum”        “tha”
(thumb)(Middle)(Index)(Mid/Ring/Little)(thumb)(thumb)(All fingers)

Note: There should be no gaps betn all of the sounds. It should be read (sound produced) shall be something in rhythm… ghum(ku)tha(ka)(here a small gap)ghumghum(tha)

Please check the following visual description of the same….

Main Lesson 1

What are the bhajans you can play with this beat??????

Please understand that speed varies for first and second time. Few of the said bhajans can have different beats in the first speed and second speed can have some little variation of the above beat. But this beat is the primary beat for all of these bhajans.

    It is more important for someone to play the same beat as slow as possible and still maintain the rhythm and also you can just continue to increase the pace of the beat as the song goes from 1st to second speed and increase as the singer varies his speed. In other words, it is YOU who is following the singer and not vice-versa.

Therefore, please try to play all the lessons you have learns from 1 – 5 and main lesson and all of the above lessons will fit into these bhajans..
As you have noticed that how small combinations is bringing the melody to the sound in terms from lesson 1 – 5 and then main lesson beat. Therefore it is more important to have a control of the sound / speed / variations of your playing hand. So much said and let’s see what bhajans you can practice…
Follow these rules to practice….

* Always follow the singer

* You will be only playing a supportive role

* Listen these songs from Sundaram Bhajans / Student bhajans / Live bhajans at center / any other resources…. and start playing your beat and check how it is fitting with the song….

* Do not expect that you will sound great overnight. It’s not the case, the more you sound boring indicates that you are falling into right path.

* Once you start realizing that the sound that is produced brings in your satisfaction then only it means you are progressing. It takes time. REMEMBER.

* This is not the end…. understand it’s only the beginning…

* There are plenty that you can bring into melody..which we will eventually learn…..

* Do not forget to love yourself and appreciate yourself how much you have accomplished. Just imagine that couple of months before you could not even hold Kanjira and today you have started playing for Baba. Motivate yourself. It helps you and everyone around us.

* Finally I would sincerely request that do not learn / play because you have to but instead play / learn this as a sadhana or spiritual growth. Hence, Please pray to Swami / Baba that it is him playing through your hands / mind.

Ganesh:

  • 1. Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha
  • 2. Sundara Sundara Vinayaka Shuba Mangala dayaka vinayaka
  •  3. Hey gananatha gajanana hey rambha gajanana
  •  4. Many many others in similar category of the above bhajans…..

Guru:

  • 1. Manasa Bhajorey Guru Charanam
  •  2. Jaya Guru jaya Guru Sai Ram..Jagath Guru Sathya Sai Ram
  •  3. Sakshat Para Brahma Sai
  •  4. Guru Deva Priya Deva Sai Deva Daya Maya
  •  5. Guru Nanak Ji Ki Jai Jai Kar
  •  6. Bhajorey Manuva Sadguru deva..parama dayalo sai maha deva
  •  7. Many many others in similar category of the above bajans…..

Devi:

  • 1. Devi Bhavani Maa..
  •  2. Tripura Sundari Maa…
  •  3. Durge Durge Durge Jai Jai Maa
  •  4. Many many others in similar category….

Shiva:

  • 1. Shiva Shambho Shambho Shiva Shambho Maha deva
  •  2. Shankara Shankara……..Sai Shankara , Nadasharira Vedo Dhara….
  •  3. Shambho Shankara Deva.. Bhole Baba Maha Deva…
  •  4. Kala Theetaya Siddhi Roopaya Yogeeswaraya Namah Om
  •  5. Mrityamjayaya Namah Om….
  •  6. Many many others…..

Rama:

  • 1. Sri rama charanam sri rama charanam
  •  2. Rama Ram bajamana harey harey
  •  3. Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram
  •  4. Rama Rama sai rama parthi pureesha sai rama
  •  5. Many many others…..

Krishna:

  • 1. Sundara vadana sarasija nayana
  •  2. Sai Sathya palana baba sathya palana
  •  3. Giridhara gopala sai giridhara gopala
  •  4. Gopala Radha lola
  •  5. Chita chora yeshoda key bal
  •  6. Many many others….

Govinda:

  • 1. Govinda Gopala Prabhu Giridhari
  •  2. Krishna Rama Govinda Gokula Nandana Gopala
  •  3. Srinivasa venkatesha sritajana paripala govinda
  •  4. Govinda Govinda Bhajamana Radhey govinda
  •  5. Many many others….

Sai:

  • 1. Jaya jagadeesha harey jaya gopala harey
  •  2. others in similar category…

Sarva Dharma:

  • 1. Sai hamara hum saiye kay
  •  2. Sai baba tera naam sathya sai baba tera naam
  •  3. Guru nanak ji ki jai jai kar
  •  4. Rama Harey Sai krishna harey sarva dharma sai
  •  5. Allah ho akbar allah ho akbar
  •  6. Many many others in same category…..

Anjaneya:

  • 1. Anjaneya veera hanumantha sura
  •  2. Ram lakshmana janaki jai bolo hanuman ki

Subramanyam:

  • 1. Subramanyam Subramanyam….

Arti:

  • 1. Om jai jagadesha harey…


—————————————————————-

Main Lesson Beat 2

This is main lesson beat 2 that covers almost 90% of sai bhajans only mainly for first speed. If you can master this then you will have no problem in leading the bhajans at sai centers.

What is the beat?

[“Ghum” “ku” “ku” “tha” “ka” ][“tha” “Ka” “Ghum” “tha”]
————–Set1———— ————-Set2————
(thumb)(Middle)(Index)(Mid/Ring/Little)(Index)(Mid/Ring/Lit)(All) (thumb)(All fingers)

Note: There should be no gaps betn all of the sounds. It should be read (sound produced) shall be something in rhythm… ghum(ku)(ku)tha(ka)(here a small gap)(tha)(ka)ghum(tha)

Please check the following visual description of the same….

Main Lesson 2

This will be used only for FIRST SPEED but for few selected bhajans that might start very slowly. Most of the above bhajans stated can be started using this beat. Again it depends on the singer and how he starts….
We will continue with the rest of the lessons as we progress.
If you have any questions please feel free to  email me p_saikishore@yahoo.com and until then

JAI SAI RAM

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