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Raga Mala: The Autobiography of Ravi Shankar Hardcover – September 25, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Welcome Rain Publishers; 1st Welcome Rain ed edition (September 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566491045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566491044
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #760,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shankar, a sitar player known as the godfather of world music for his role in opening Western ears to sounds from the East, gives an honest, in-depth look at his life and work in this prodigious autobiography. Like a fine musical composition, Shankar beautifully narrates his life's milestones--his early years in India, his travels as a performer in Paris during the 1930s, his breakthrough in the West and rise to stardom during the '60s, his turbulent personal life in the '70s and '80s--while periodically returning to his basic theme: his love of music and the sitar. Throughout, Shankar builds on his 1968 book, My Music, My Life, which provided a general introduction to Indian music. He describes his performances in U.S. music festivals (Woodstock, he says, was " a terrifying experience" where "the music was incidental"); he also weaves in tales of people he affected (Gene Kelly, Richard Burton, Peter Sellers, Marlon Brando and, of course, editor Harrison), and those who influenced him--most importantly Ustad Allauddin Khan, the classical musician and pioneer of modern Hindustani instrumental music. Along with the enormous number of photographs that accompany this dense and lengthy work, Shankar presents letters and musical transcriptions to produce a history of Indian music during the 20th century. Although Shankar has been somewhat taken for granted in recent years due to his long-standing popularity, this book convincingly reasserts his historical importance. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Born in India, sitar master Shankar was raised in his brother Uday's dance company, which toured internationally. His life, populated by a rich cast of family and friends, thus reveals a fascinating tension between Western and Eastern cultures. In this book, the man who was India's premier musical ambassador for over 40 years displays both sincere humility and the sort of self-confidence that borders on boastfulness. But, for the most part, his manner is so gentle that the reader cannot help but be charmed. Edited by Harrison--the ex-Beatle who propelled Shankar to a kind of pop star-like fame when he became Shankar's student in 1966--his narrative tends to meander; an "additional narrative" by Oliver Craske provides important background information and context for Shankar's many reminiscences. The emphasis throughout is on Shankar the man; those interested in his ideas about India's musical traditions should seek out his earlier book, My Music, My Life (1968). Recommended for popular and world music collections.
-Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 7 customer reviews
Shankar's early life was simply amazing.
Amazon Customer
Book is a detailed account of the life of this great musician.
patricia cox
A classic book, both in form and content.
A. Hogan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a fascinating account of the life of Ravi Shankar. I was a little reluctant to pick up this book at first- -I thought to myself, "Ravi Shankar- pop star, a musician who lives on hype - who wants to read a fan book? If George Harrison hadn't stumbled across him, he would have been just another sitar player." But after reading this book, I have a much greater understanding and respect for Shankar and all that he has accomplished.
Shankar's early life was simply amazing. His first tour of the US was in 1932, when he was all of 12 years old. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for Shankar to be the leader in bringing Indian classical music to the West, since he spent so many of his formative years in Paris and on tour throughout Europe and the US. During this time, he became familiar with Western audiences and their expectations, as well as with Western music traditions. It is this familiarity that has enabled him to be so successful at explaining Indian music to Westerners. But as this book details, Shankar was not only popular in the West, but long before George Harrison met him, he had built a very successful career in India. For example, he was the one who did the music for film director Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy, among so many other projects.
Shankar's influences on music in both India and the West are enormous and far-reaching. He was one of the first musicians to gain a following in world music, and he fought strongly against the marginalization of world music as a field only fit for ethnomusicologists. As described in this book, in India, he helped change attitudes towards musical performance and performers by demanding full attention from audiences and formal venues, much like classical performers in the West expect.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Not to be missed and are recommended for any library collection strong in music holdings, George Harrison edits and introduces Ravi Shankar with the ex-Beatle providing a fine opening for Indian musician Shankar's powerful autobiography. From a teen dancer in 1930s Paris and New York to a master of classical Hindustani music, this traces his journey from East to West, from dance to music, and his friendships and life. The accompanying photos from his archives are as outstanding as his story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James H. Barkas on January 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Raga Mala is destined to be a classic of literature.
It is a biography, history, diary, and a basic primer
of Hindustani (North Indian) music.
As a beginning Sitar student under a Guru myself.
I appreciate Raviji's journey from student to master.
The life covers so many memorable moments of history.
His triumphs and pain are an inspiration to all who
are open enough to see it. There is not enough that
can be said to fully explain the depth of this book.
It is fair to say that most will not fully understand
it in one reading.
In closing, Raga Mala will be the textbook to be used
by all interested in Pandit Ravi Shankar, Indian music,
and how it has gained popularity in America since the
1960's. I recommend this book as in the top 5 of my
all time favorite books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Book on November 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Regardless of how you come into this book, as a Beatles fan, as an admirer of Indian classical music, or someone who studies the Indian culture, you will come out of it thinking of Ravi Shankar as someone very special, but who shares the same passion for life as many of us. "Raga Mala" is his story through his words, from his days as a dancer to traveling out of India for the first time, and eventually setting a goal to spread his music and culture around the world. With celebrity comes fame, and with fame comes admiration, and there were many women who admired him, only for he to admire them back. His love of women is at times overshadowed by his love of food, which is something I never knew before this.
But he talks about his music as his core (at point during the book he compared the sitar to his wife), and gets in-depth about his mission to enlighten people with his music. He loved the hippies but hated their lifestyle, and felt that he could make them high, and higher, with his music.
"Raga Mala" shows a well-traveled and cultured man with the utmost respect for his culture, his people, his music, and life in general. At 81 years old, he knows his "old junk of a body" can't do the things it did when he was 15, but he refuses to slow down for anyone, including himself.
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