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Watch the Essential Ornamentation Styles online guitar lesson by TrueFire from Play Rock Guitar 7: Style Diversity

Essential Ornamentation Styles - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Fareed Haque and is sourced from Gaga for Raga.


There are a myriad ways of bending notes on the traditional guitar in order to capture that Indian music sound.

Traditionally the South Indian ‘Veena' is plucked with the fingers. Check out

Rajhesh Vaidhya :

One of the many traditional and authentic approaches to bending and ornamenting raga is to use a slide.

Through the 500 years of British occupation, many western instruments – violin, saxophone and the lap steel guitar have evolved Hindustani and Carnatic styles. Check out V.M. Bhatt. He uses an Alabaster egg shaped 'slide' on his own version of a slide guitar he calls the Mohan Veena.

and for more reading:

More recently players like Prasanna have done wonderful things playing Carnatic music on a traditional Gibson Les Paul. Prasanna is a fantastic musician who uses very low frets and even finger-ease lubrication to facilitate Carnatic ornamentation with very little bending.

It's also worthwhile to check out Derek Trucks a blues guitarist who does some beautiful Indian phrasing as well as the incredible Steve Kimock.

Finally and certainly most important is the great John McLaughlin.

Check out the Mahavishnu Orchestra and especially Shakti.

In addition to these approaches there are certainly more I'm sure that I haven't thought of - A fretless guitar, a pitch bend pedal, a whammy bar, all can be used to create some of the ornaments that are typical in Indian music. Feel free to experiment!


An ornamentation is an embellishment that is very characteristic of Indian music. Ornamentations can be divided into the categories of meends (glides), murki (three or more notes played in quick succession), gamak (heavy trill) and two types of hammering techniques, krintan and zamzama. The ways in which these ornamentations are expressed within the ragas will be explored in this course.