Posts Tagged ‘Indian classical music’

Great documentaries concerned with various aspects of Indian classical music

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

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.

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26 May 2013: double concert in Amsterdam celebrating Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia’s 75th birthday

Friday, May 24th, 2013

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.
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A beautiful recording, Hariprasad Chaurasia plays Raag Malkauns


A promo for ‘Bansuri Guru’ (2013), a film highlighting
life and career of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

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Kala Ramnath Full Concert (April 23rd, 2006 – Utrecht, The Netherlands) – Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

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!

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“Once you’re all done with writing, can we play this section?” – Notities bij een ragaklasje

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

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.

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Anoushka’s great blend of Hindustani & Flamenco

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013


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

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Pakhawaj playing at its best by the young and brilliant Mahima Upadhyay

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

What an amazing young talent, evry detail soo beautifully articulated. Listening to the rich sound of this rhythm queen is truly a listener’s delight. I think the Gundecha Brothers, on front row in the audience, will agree with me.

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2 Nov.’12 Amsterdam Tropentheater concert tabla legend Zakir Hussain sold out in a beat

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012


On Friday 2 November 2012 legendary world famous tabla player Zakir Hussain will play with his Masters of Percussion group in the Great Hall of Amsterdam’s Tropentheater. Zakir Hussain will be joined on stage by young brilliant sitar player Niladri Kumar and other great musicians on a variety of instruments including the dholak, ghatam, tabla, kanjira, bansuri and sarangi. For evryone going to the concert it will be a sheer delight to witness the tabla genius playing again in The Netherlands. It will be the third time that I’ll visit a concert of him in Amsterdam. Last time was in 2008 when Zakir Hussain performed with The Masters of Percussion at the Amsterdam India Festival and somewhere in the early nineties (or was it even earlier?) I saw the king of Indian beats performing live on stage in Amsterdam with sarangi player Ustad Sultan Khan. All were memorable great events, due to Zakir’s charisma and overwhelming musical powers. There’s so much said and written about him in books, newspapers, articles and all over the web… what can I add here? Let me just add a quite recent (and quite funny) two-part video-interview with him – shown below – and maybe this one good advise: always book early when Zakir Hussain is playing in your neighbourhood! The concert in Amsterdam I’m going to on 2 November was sold out in a beat. I’m glad I won’t miss one beat of it coming Friday! :)


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Amelia Cuni’s beautiful interpretation of John Cage’s ‘Solo for Voice 58: 18 Microtonal Ragas’

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Early September 2012 I heard (and met) Italian dhrupad singer Amelia Cuni in Göttingen, where she did a concert titled Cosmopolit@n Ragas. It was a beautiful musical event in two parts, starting out with Amelia Cuni’s performance of a raga in traditional dhrupad style. Then she took things in another direction by presenting her dhrupad-styled improvisational skills in a very different musical framework: she performed John Cage‘s Solo for Voice 58: 18 Microtonal Ragas. Here I like to share a beautiful recording of Amelia Cuni interpreting this work of John Cage. Enjoy!

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Wonderful concept for an enhanced experience of raga music: The Silence Concert

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

To help people experience the power of Indian classical music, married and musical couple cellist Saskia Rao de Haas and sitarist Shubhendra Rao started the Silence Concert movement, to experience music in its purest form: surrounded by silence. An intriguing, fascinating concept.

Saskia and Shubhendra explained their initiative in The Hindu of 19 September 2012 and here’s what they have to say about it on the Silence Concert Facebook-page they created:

“What is a Silence Concert?
For the sensitive listener, there can be a big difference in attending a concert and experiencing music. The effect that music can have on our lives, especially Indian music, is often lost by the social conventions that prevail at concerts: applause, talking before and after the concert, ceremonies, all of which take the attention away from the music itself. To help people experience the magical power of Indian music in a concert setting, Pt Shubhendra Rao and Saskia Rao initiated the Silence Concerts movement. In a Silence Concert the only sound that reverberates is music. There are no introductions, ceremonies, gimmicks, talks, speeches or applause. The setting is serene, beautiful and set up to experience beauty within through the pure experience of music. Through controlling external influences that can distract listener and performer the experience of pure music is enhanced.
Entering the auditorium for a Silence concert, the audience and artists leave behind their worries and daily masks, because they do not have to respond in word or gesture to the outside world. They can be gently led through a sublime journey within. What follows is that their experience turns within. The artist can share his music without playing to the gallery and the effect lingers after the concert, not interrupted by applause.
Abhinavagupta (approx. 950-1020 AD), the Indian philosopher, said that the ‘perfect audience is a spotless mirror of the performer’. Audience and performer become one in a Silence concert. The social context is taken out and the audience is left with a truly introspective experience, as is the performer.”
(Saskia Rao de Haas and Shubhendra Rao)

Saskia and Shubhendra end with a quote of Sufi Inayat Khan (1882-1927):
“While tuning the tanpura, the artist tunes his own soul. Not only has he tuned the instrument, but he has felt the need of every soul in the audience and the demands of their souls, what they want at that time. He becomes an instrument of the whole cosmic system, open to all inspiration at one with the audience, in tune with the tanpura and it is not only music, but spiritual phenomena that he gives to the people…‘ The object of Indian music is the training of the mind and the soul, for music is the best way of concentration. If one only knows how to appreciate it and give one’s mind to it, keeping all other things away, one naturally develops the power of concentration. Besides the beauty of music, there is the tenderness, which brings life [and gratitude] to the heart. For the person of fine feelings life in this world is very trying. It is jarring and it sometimes has a freezing effect. It makes the heart, so to speak, frozen. If one can focus one’s heart on music, it is just like warming up something that was frozen. The joy of life depends upon the perfect tuning of mind and body.”

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Raga Unveiled – ambitious cinematic effort to grasp the essence of Hindustani classical music

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

I reported earlier on ‘Raga Unveiled’, an ambitious cinematic effort to take a look at the history and essence of the Hindustani classical music system. In this film – directed by Gita Desai and released in 2009 – scholars and great artists of today unveil the raga and demonstrate evrything you always would have liked to know about Indian classical music.
Here’s the trailer:

For anyone interested in raga music this 260 minute-film is a ‘must’ and of course it’s needless to say that you should see and buy the film on dvd in much better quality.

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