I came across some very interesting documentaries concerned with various aspects of Indian classical music.
SaReGa, produced in 2010 and directed by Valerie Berteau, is a film introducing Hindustani music. Musical notes have the power to affect and enhance our feelings. The Hindi/Urdu word “rag” means color, or passion. Therefore, a raga can be defined as an accoustic method of coloring the mind of the listener with emotion. For centuries, its oral transmission has maintained the essential qualities of this remarkable tradition.
Koi Sunta Hai (Someone is Listening): Journeys with Kumar & Kabir, was produced in 2008 and directed by director Shabnam Virmani. This film interweaves the poetry of North Indian 15th century mystic poet Kabir with the life and music of the late Indian classical singer Kumar Gandharva.
Man of Collection, produced in 2008 and directed by Mohani Bhoj, tries to document the journey of a man who has spent 35 years of his life putting together the golden age of Hindi cinema that has nearly got erased from our collective memories. The journey of musical greats like Anil Biswas, Khemchandra Prakash, Naushad and musical renditions of classical ragas like daadra, dhrupad, thumari, ghazals, bhajans by great singers and compositions of various musicians is the wealth of this one man Pritam T. Manghani. From the first record to be made in India (singer Gauhar Jahan’s) to the last lp of hindi films (Veer-Zaara), from classical music to folk songs in any language, to advertisements in old records, to speeches of political figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to recitations of great poets like gurudev rabindranath Tagore, india’s nightangle Sarojini Naidu, the revolutionary poet kavi kazi nazrul islam etc. Other than collecting gems from the world of sound, Pritamji is a proud owner of old film magazines, pamphlets & posters. But what he likes most from his treasure is the Edison collection. Looking at Edison’s laboratory record he says ” Without Edison we wouldn’t have experienced the world of sound”.
Sound Yoga/Nada Yoga: The Healing Power of Sacred Sound was produced in 2004 and directed by Jay Weidner. Teacher, vocalist and sound healer Shanti Shivani introduces the mystic practice of Nada Yoga. Nada Yoga is the core of Dhrupad, the most ancient style of Hindustani classical music.
Not to be missed on Sunday 26 May 2013! A double concert in De Meervaart in Amsterdam to celebrate the 75th birthday of bansuri maestro Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
The programme of the celebration concert:
Concert 1 14.30-16.00
Meeta Pandit, vocal ; Sandip Bhattacharya, tabla ; Rafiq Ahmed, sarangi ; Rohit Vyas and Martin Spaink, tanpura.
Concert 2 16.30-18.00
Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, bansuri/bamboo flute ; Subhankar Banerjee, tabla ; Stephanie Bosch, tanpura.
Tickets for the concert in Amsterdam on Sunday 26 May can be booked online via http://www.meervaart.nl/ Price for a ticket is € 26.
A beautiful recording, Hariprasad Chaurasia plays Raag Malkauns
A promo for ‘Bansuri Guru’ (2013), a film highlighting
life and career of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
KITLV / Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies has put online a substantial collection of popular music from Indonesia. Thousands of songs from the 20th century – traditional, popular and locally inspired – are freely available and can be streamed through a renewed media library. The added contextual data and images of the original records make a collection that was previously hard to find, into a unique source for contemporary and cultural history of Indonesia. Click here to try out this music collection.
The rough translation of the song:
“This is the story of a girl, restless in thought, who wants to take the road less traveled. A girl who refuses to let her feet touch the ground and desires independence from the path that was chosen for her. She packs her belongings and wants to fly, away from her constraints and bonds. She wants to let her thoughts fly with her through a path like the one a kite takes in the wind. On her journey, she sees the world shimmering with color and all things living, dancing and singing to the tune of freedom.”
On 23 April 2006 I filmed Kala Ramnath’s concert at RASA in Utrecht/The Netherlands. Since then I published a lot of this concert in separate parts. Finally I’ve now uploaded the complete concert on my YouTubechannel.
Kala Ramnath/violin; Satyajit Talwalkar/tabla; Celine Wadier/tanpura
00:00 – 57:48 Raag Madhuvanti
58:13 – 1:27:40 Raag Dinki Puriya
1:27:54 – 1:39:45 Composition in Raag Des
It’s great to be able now to play this fabulous concert in one go! (Yes, fans/admirers of Kala, you should really thank me for this upload 🙂 ) And for the first time you can now enjoy Kala’s complete Madhuvanti in this concert, which is a great bonus!
Bovenstaande video toont een ragaworkshop in New York, verzorgd door topvioliste Kala Ramnath. Westers klassiek geschoolde muzikanten brengt zij wat beginselen bij van de alap, de openingssectie van een ragaperformance. De workshopdeelnemers dienen door haar gespeelde frasen op het gehoor na te spelen. Wat de muzikanten te doen staat is duidelijk: goed luisteren en dan op je instrument imiteren wat je hebt gehoord.
Niet wat we horen, maar vooral wat we zien vind ik opmerkelijk. De muziekstandaard, het attribuut voor de neus van de deelnemers, wordt nadrukkelijk in het proces van luisteren en spelen betrokken. Stilzwijgend dirigeert de lessenaar het klasje telkens naar het papier, naar lege notenbalken die uitnodigen tot noteren-vastleggen-lezen wat men hoort. Voor de workshopdeelnemers is de muziekstandaard een zwijgzame bondgenoot die een interventie mogelijk maakt tussen wat ze te horen krijgen en wat ze vervolgens gaan spelen.
De muzikanten pogen steeds te noteren wat ze horen, zoals zij dat blijkbaar gewend zijn in een muzikaal leerproces. Deze schriftgerichte benadering ‘wringt’ met de voornamelijk op orale overdracht gerichte methodiek binnen Kala Ramnath’s Indiase ragatraditie.
Dit ragaklasje vertoont een zekere fixatie op notatie en klampt zich zo vast aan vertrouwde mores en (Westerse) methodieken. Is dat verkeerd of een probleem? Nee hoor, helemaal niet, maar – zoals gezegd – er wringt wel iets: een zo sterke drang tot noteren en lezen valt niet alleen op, maar doet in een ragasetting nogal wezensvreemd aan. Tegelijkertijd levert het natuurlijk ook wel weer een boeiend kijkspel op.
In an interesting blog Dutch musicologist Evert Bisschop Boele wonders about a not by name mentioned ‘dutchie’ in John Szwed’s biography of ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax. It concerns a person from The Netherlands who was travelling with the famous American songhunter to Spain in a period “just after the war”.
Alan Lomax in 1952, with a local from Aragon/Spain
The exact date isn’t mentioned, but I presume “just after the war” means 1952 or 1953, being the years when Lomax visited Spain and recorded there. I didn’t know about a Dutch person travelling to Spain with Lomax at the time. Very interesting!
After concluding it wasn’t and couldn’t have been Jaap Kunst (1891-1960) Bisschop Boele ends his blog asking “Who is he? Who?” Well, I’d like to give it a shot. I think the person involved here might be Bernard IJzerdraat (1926-1986). In fact, I can’t think of anyone else. Let me try to explain this.
In the early fifties Bernard IJzerdraat was in his twenties and a well known figure in the Dutch gamelan scene. His group Babar Layar was very popular in Holland. The group played Javanese gamelan music for radio and television, recorded an LP on the Philips label and toured succesfully throughout Europe.
Bernard IJzerdraat on kendang (drum), leading his group Babar Layar
In his writings Lomax refers only twice briefly to his companion, first as “a young man who specialized in Javanese gamelan music” and then he writes: “I did not know that my Dutch travelling companion was the son of the man who had headed the underground in Holland during the German occupation.” This quote immediately reminds me of Bernard IJzerdraat’s father, Bernardus IJzerdraat (1891-1941). In the early stages of World War II Bernardus IJzerdraat was one of Holland’s prominent figures of the Dutch resistance. He’s known as the founder of De Geuzen, the first Dutch resistance group. He was arrested and shot by the Germans in 1941, together with 17 others, including three Communists involved in the February Strike.
Bernard’s father Bernardus IJzerdraat, famous man of Dutch resistance
Knowing these facts and reading what Lomax says about his young Dutch fellow traveller without revealing a name, I think the unknown ‘dutchie’ could be Bernard IJzerdraat, gamelan specialist and son of a war hero.
So far my educated guess. I might be wrong here of course. Anyone else having thougths on this? If so, please let me know.
Despite the fact that flamenco, the fiery song and dance genre from Andalusia/Spain, is a well known genre all over the world, it’s still not common knowledge that the genre’s ancient roots lie in gypsy music from Rajashtan/India. A great and awarded album exploring this India-flamenco connection is Traveller by renowned sitar player Anoushka Shankar. On this album – I quote from her website – “she finds her way into the nuances of modern flamenco through the vivid lens of Hindustani technique. In essence, Traveller charts the spiritual link across time and space of two highly evolved forms of musical expression, from their ancient gestation to their modern zenith.” On her homepage Anoushka Shankar adds: “I’ve always loved flamenco and had a fascination for it. There’s always been that pull towards something I find very similar in flamenco to what I cherish in Indian classical music: a kind of uninhibited musicality in expression, whether it’s a solo voice, a sitar or a guitar. Of course there were common roots and technical similarities to explore, and when you start to play with those, you can really delve down in very delicious ways. However the desire came from simply being an admirer of the music, and wanting to learn about it through making music.”
The album release in 2011 was followed by a world tour, and from this tour the inspiring and well recorded concert below is a joy for watching and listening. So, without further ado, enjoy the great musicianship and temperament of Anoushka Shankar and her fellow travellers on stage!
Anoushka Shankar’s Traveller concert at Festival Les Nuits de Fourviere (Lyon/France), July 13th, 2012