Trees and Tones - Wooden Instrument Traditions: Sitars and Tamburas

Presentation | November 11 | 4-6:30 p.m. |  UC Botanical Garden

 Botanical Garden

Learn all about sitars and tamburas with instrument maker J. Scott Hackleman. For over 40 years Scott has been studying sitar, travelling to India, and making and repairing hundreds of Indian instruments for artists such as Ravi Shankar and institutions such as Cal Arts. Discover the woods used to make these instruments such as Tun (Toona ciliata), Sheesham (Dalbergia sisoo), and Ebony (Diospyros ebenum). Additionally, gourds will be discussed. This will be followed by and interspersed with a sitar, tambura, and tabla performance by Joanna Mack (sitar) and Ferhan Quereshi (tabla).

Scott Hackleman has been working on the classical musical instruments of India for more than 40 years.
He started studying sitar in 1969. When he began formal study in 1974 with Amiya Dasgupta, a disciple of Ravi Shankar, he was introduced to sitar repair and jawari when staying after his lessons and sitting with Amiya's friend Nodu Mullick (the man attributed with building Ravi Shankar's sitar). He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Sitar Performance from California Institute of the Arts in 1985. In 1987 he was awarded a grant from the American Institute of Indian Studies, funded through the Smithsonian and sponsored by Ravi Shankar, to live in India and document his apprenticeship with a master instrument maker there. It was at that time he studied with Kartar Chand in Paharganj and sat with Murari Adhikari in Kolkata. A brief summary of this experience was published in the Journal of the Guild of American Luthiers, Number 67, Fall 2002. He has worked on hundreds of sitars and other Indian instruments since returning from India and continues to develop his skills not only in repair and set-up, but in building these instruments as well. He has worked on the instruments of many professional musicians, teachers, students and organizations over the years including Ravi Shankar, Shubho Shankar, Ry Cooder, Paul Livingstone, UCLA, UCSB, CalArts, Pomona College and SRF to name a few.
From his shop in Point Roberts, Washington, Scott builds custom bespoke musical instruments, with a particular focus on the Personal Tambura, repairs & services Indian Classical instruments sent to him from all over the continent and makes regular trips to California to service the sitars of UCLA, UCSB and others.

Joanna Mack began her pursuit of Classical North Indian Music in 1997. While studying Neuroscience at UCSD, she attended a Classical Indian Music class with sitar virtuoso Kartik Seshadri, a senior disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar of the Maihar Gharana. She had been involved in Western music since childhood but was immediately drawn to Indian music. Recognizing Joanna's inherent talent and drive, Kartikji recommended her to study in Kolkata under the now late Pandit Deepak Choudhury, also a senior disciple of renowned musician Pandit Ravi Shankar. That year, Joanna traveled to India where she fully devoted herself to the pursuit of Indian Classical Music under the guidance of Deepakji. She continued her studies with him in Kolkata from 1997 through 2005.

Joanna then returned to the United States, promising Deepakji that her dedication to learn would not falter and that she would accept the responsibility to teach the traditional values and ideas of the Maihar Gharana. Joanna is fulfilling that promise today. She teaches private and group classes and performs in a variety of venues. She was fortunate to be able to study under the now late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and continues her studies with sarodia Bruce Hamm at the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music in San Rafael and master classes with sitarist Sri Partha Chatterjee.
Biocultural diversity can be defined as the inextricable link between biological diversity and cultural diversity. An area where this relationship is distinctively exemplified is in musical traditions from around the world. This fall, as a part of our “Year of Trees” programming, the UC Botanical Garden is hosting a four-part series that highlights the relationship between music and plants as seen in instrument making and musical traditions throughout the world. We start the series with a feature on African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) also known as Mpingo, the tree that is used in making oboes and clarinets. We then move into the stories of guitars (from classical and folk perspectives), Indian classical instruments, such as sitars and tamburas and their fascinating use of woods and gourds, and we end the series understanding the conservation concerns of Pernambuco or Pau-Brasil (Caesalpinia echinata) and its unique use in the making of violin and cello bows. This series will bring together luthiers, scholars, botanists and musicians to take part in an important discussion around raising awareness of plants in our daily lives.

 $40 / $35 UCBG Members / $20 student

  Register online or or by emailing, 510-664-7606