The Sounds Of India
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To me, classical Indian music has no equal as a source of solace and inspiration. It's impossible to give it a serious listen without closing your eyes and drifting off on a journey of imagination. It's truly an auditory narcotic: the mind simply refuses to be tied down.
It isn't just Indian, either, it's pan-Asian: the basic instruments come from ancient Persia; in the tremelos and melting notes of the lower range, one hears the echoes of a Moslem cantor. At the opposite end of the register, the plucked note progressions are reminiscent of Oriental lutes that float about like auditory calligraphy.
There are a few things that make it truly Indian, though: its origin as the artistic medium of religious expression at the intersection of all the Old World religions: Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. It's the perfect melding of the eastern- and westernmost musical traditions of Asia. This is best realized not even in the sitar, but in the tambura, that never-ending, metallic, atonal drone in the background which performs roughly the same function that bass does in Western music. But while so much simpler in form -- every work is based on a single chord -- it's so much more in fact: it's eternal; it never changes. It's an auditory umbilical to antiquity.
In a world where lip-synching during a choreographed dance routine qualifies airheaded teenagers as "superstars," Shankar's reputation as "the Godfather of World Music" (George Harrison) is genuine. He is a visitor from another time, a thousand years ago, when one man could embody an enormous artistic tradition and a vast, ancient country.
There's not really any point in trying to describe the ragas on this album (or any other album). They're so complex and intricate that the only thing one could really talk about is the scales they use and what sort of rhythms are played. But if I've got you interested yet, then you'll buy the CD and learn about all of that from Ravi's explanations. If you don't care about that sort of stuff, then you probably won't like the music.
A little education-
Indian ragas are based on scales and modes. In fact, the word "raga" means "scale." The basic structure of a raga begins with the alap section, in which the main instrument (in this case, the sitar) plays freely, accompanied only by the drone instrument (sometimes not). This is where the basic scale is first introduced. The sitarist then introduces the element of rhythm, but very slowly. The percussion (tablas in this case) comes in and introduces the tala, which is the time signature.Read more ›
Onto the review - I love the main intro as well as the intros to each of the ragas. The music is very good, and although the developments of the ragas are short, they adequately express the beauty contained within the ragas. There are, of course, better albums out there, but this is very good intro to the world of Hindustani Music. Buy this and you will be pleased. For a kick, buy it with Vidwan: Music of South India -- Songs of the Carnatic Tradition, so as to get a real feel of both the Hindustani and Carnatic traditions. Both of them were released in 1968, both are very classy, and both are available on this site.
Try it out, it'll take you far like it has me...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Came promptly. And my client who was interested in sitar music was happy for it me to have it. Thanks!Published 5 months ago by Melissa K. Hyman
This CD is intended as an introductory lesson with a great deal of talking before each song. It is not so great if you just want music to listen to.Published 10 months ago by barbara lee
This is a wonderful CD that includes the speaking voice of Ravi Shankar explaining the ragas. It is especially precious now that he has passed.Published 16 months ago by cas
Didn't pay attention to description, there are only 4 songs on this cd.Published 17 months ago by JoAnn. ( JO JO )