Best releases of 2013 | Pieter de Rooij’s Top 15

01. Anupama Bhagwat (India) – Ether | Raga/Hindustani
Anupama Bhagwat


02. Valentina Lisitsa (USA) – Rachmaninov: The Piano Concertos | Western Classical
Valentina Rach concerti


03. Valentina Lisitsa (USA) – Valentina Lisitsa plays Liszt | Western Classical
Valentina plays Liszt


04. Sarah Jarosz (USA) – Build Me Up From Bones | Bluegrass/Folk/Americana
Sarah Jarosz


05. Buika (Spain) – La Noche Mas Larga | Flamenco/Jazz
Buika La Noche


06. Rokia Traoré (Mali) – Beautiful Africa | Blues/Rock
Rokia Traoré


07 Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer (USA) – Child Ballads | Folk
Child Ballads


08. Debashish Bhattacharya (India) – Beyond the Ragasphere | Raga/Hindustani/Crossover
Debashish Bhattacharya


09. Anoushka Shankar (India) – Traces of You | Raga/Crossover
Anoushka Shankar


10. Natacha Atlas (Belgium/UK) – Live in Toulouse | Arabian pop
Natacha Atlas


11. Valerie June (USA) – Pushin’ Against A Stone | Folk/Blues/Soul
Valerie June


12. Jyotsna Srikanth (India) – Call Of Bengalore | Raga/Carnatic/Crossover
Jyotsna Srikanth


13. Eva Quartet & Hector Zazou (Bulgaria/France) – The Arch | Crossover/Experimental
Eva Quartet & Hector Zazou


14. Hilary Hahn (USA) – In 27 Pieces : The Hilary Hahn Encores | Western Classical
Hilary Hahn


15. Various Artists (Brazil) – Daora: Underground Sounds of Urban Brasil | Hiphop/Afro/Dub


Great documentaries concerned with various aspects of Indian classical music

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.


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

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 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 presents a streamable free collection of popular music from Indonesia

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.


Vidya Vandana & Shankar Tucker: ‘Rang Lo’ (a song in the spirit of Holi)

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.”


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

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!


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

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.


A ‘dutchie’ with Alan Lomax in Spain

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.