Newsletter April 2010

1. Tabla Promotion Days in May
- Scene Info -

In May tabla player Ashis Paul from Calcutta will be staying in our shop in Berlin for a couple of days. From May 5th till 10th Ashis Paul will be available for special tabla promotion days. Make an appointment, come to India Instruments in Berlin, and benefit from his knowledge and experience with a free tabla check. Bring your own tabla and have it examined by Ashis Paul without any obligation. He will tell you whether your tabla is in good shape or can be improved considerably, e.g. by better tuning, adjustment of the straps or replacement of the skin. Tuning and adjustment of straps can be done on the spot for a flat charge of 15.- Euros. That way you can take your tweaked instrument home with you right away. Of course you can also have a go at our large assortment of tablas in different sizes, qualities and tunings together with Ashis Paul - he will be glad to play the instruments for you.

As a special bonus Ashis Paul will also give you free individual advice on how to improve your playing and reach your personal musical goals. If you want to go deeper you can also book individual lessons with Ashis Paul at a reduced rate of 20.- Euros per hour during our promotion days. Our offer can be especially useful for all those already having a tabla but no regular lessons or contact to a teacher. And for complete beginners the promotion days are a great opportunity of getting a hands on tabla experience!

Info on Ashis Paul is available at See also our tabla assortment.

2. Music Books from India
- Special Offers -

India Instruments is planning an extensive order of music books from India. Unfortunately we have to limit our permanent assortment to introductory and practical books due to lack of demand for in-depth works. However, our upcoming order gives you the opportunity of getting many more specialised books from us. Please look through the list below and let us know your advance order by May 1st. You will receive an invoice for advance payment and your books will be delivered immediately upon receipt - probably within 2 to 3 months. Our permanent assortment of books is available at here.


  • Indurama Srivastava: A Practical Guide to North Indian Classical Vocal Music: The Ten Basic Rags with Compositions and Improvisations - 28,- Euro
  • Sadanand Naimpalli: Tabla for Advanced Students - 232 pages, 18,- Euro
  • Sudhir Kumar Saxena: The Art of Tabla Rhythm: Essentials, Tradition and Creativity - 198 pages with an audio CD. 28,- Euro
  • Anil Mihiripenna: New Instrumental Compositions For North Indian Music - 480 pages, 28,- Euro


  • Prabha Atre: Along the Path of Music - 221 pages, 19,- Euro¤
  • R.C. Mehta: Indian Classical Music and Gharana Tradition - 262 pages, 38,- Euro
  • Deepak Raja: Khayala Vocalism - Continuity Within Change - 348 pages, 38,- Euro
  • Ashok Da Ranade: Perspectives on Music: Ideas and Theories - 370 pages, 38,- Euro
  • V.K. Krishna Prasad: Ragas in Indian Music: A Complete Reference Source for Carnatic Ragas, Hindustani Ragas, Western Scales, Kathakali Ragas, and Tamil Panns - 770 pages, 45,- ¤ Janaki Bakhle: Two Men and Music: Nationalism in the Making of an Indian Classical Tradition - 354 pages, 18,- Euro
  • Stephen Slawek: Sitar Technique in Nibaddh Forms - 253 pages, 22,- Euro


  • Swapan Kumar Bondyapadhyay: An Unheard Melody: Annapurna Devi: An Authorised Biography - 208 pages, 14,- Euro
  • Mohan Nadkarni: Music to Thy Ears: Great Masters of Hindustani Instrumental Music - 228 pages, 18,- Euro
  • Ravi Shankar: Raga Mala: The Autobiography of Ravi Shankar - 336 pages, 45,- Euro
  • Mohan Nadkarni: The Great Masters: Profiles in Hindustani Classical Vocal Music - 470 pages, 19,- Euro
  • Sahana Gupta: Ustad Alauddin Khan - 24,- Euro
  • Maltri Giliani and Quratulain Hyder: Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan: His Life and Music - 307 pages, 26 colour plates, 49,- Euro


  • Shovana Narayan: Kathak (Dances of India Series) - 94 pages, 9,- Euro


  • Bimalakanta Roychaudhuri: The Dictionary of Hindustani Classical Music - 214 pages, 14,- Euro
  • Ludwig Pesch: The Oxford Illustrated Companion to South Indian Classical Music - 504 pages, 8 colour plates, 49,- Euro
  • Joep Bor, Françoise 'Nalini' Delvoye, Jane Harvey, and Emmie Te Nijenhuis (editors): Hindustani Music: Thirteenth to Twentieth Centuries - 736 pages, 59,- Euro
  • Sandeep Bagchee: Nad: Understanding Raga Music - 383 pages, 18,- Euro
  • Sandeep Bagchee: Shruti: Listening to Hindustani Classical Music - 278 pages, 19,- Euro
  • Aban E. Mistry: Pakhawaj and Tabla: History, Schools and Traditions - 374 pages, 59,- Euro

3. Ravi Shankar - Cosmopolitan with the Lute
- by Ingo Anhenn, Stuttgart -

Trying to write something original on the occasion of Ravi Shankar's 90th birthday would be carrying coals to Maihar. The Maestro is one of the few Indian musicians, who have made it into the general cultural world memory. Whatever is written here is equally available from TV, the internet and the papers in some way or another. More interesting than the common celebration phraseology though is an answer to the question why particularly Ravi Shankar became so famous - in spite of too long alaps (every alap is too long), unspectacular sitting occupation and many competitors, who have equally mastered the sitar.

Robindro Shankar Chowdhury was born on April 7th, 1920, in Varanasi. His role model in a way seemed to be his father, who left the family early in life to pursue a career as a lawyer in London. When Ravi Shankar was still an underaged beau, he followed his father's footsteps and went to Europe for extended tours with his older brother Uday, performing in his shows as a dancer and temp musician, absorbing the glamorous lifestyle of Paris in the 1930s, learning the languages, the culture and the business.

His strong sense of cultural contrasts, combined with a guru-authority-syndrome, made Ravi Shankar change the metropolitan decadence with rural asceticism: From 1938 till 1944 he studied sitar with the great Allauddin Khan in the central Indian town of Maihar. Highly informative details about this period can be found in Ravi Shankar's first autobiography "My Music, My Life" - e.g. the story of how he wants to flee from the hardships and pressure and his fellow student Ali Akbar Khan says: "Why do you want to leave? You are the only one who doesn't get beaten here." After the frugal life in Maihar, Ravi Shankar went back to the metropolises, worked as composer for the film industry in Mumbai and as music director for All India Radio in Delhi. And from 1956 onwards he toured Europe and the US again and started working with violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin.

His status as THE ambassador of Indian music all over the world was earned in the mid 1960s, when Ravi Shankar got a new, though short-termed, disciple, a beat guitar player called George Harrison. Harrison connected Ravi Shankar with the Western youth movement and thus opened performance opportunities at major festivals like Woodstock for him - where Ravi Shankar dazzled the stoned crowd with his tihais. Here as well as in his other musical ventures, e.g. into Western classical or the just emerging world music, Ravi Shankar shows his unique talent: He discovers, takes part, but does not get corrupted. Traditionalists at home accused him of betraying the only true North Indian raga tradition; new audiences in the West applauded after the tuning of the instruments, mistaking it for the first piece of the programme; his compositions for sitar and orchestra merely showed the limitations of such combinations rather than their possibilities - all these obstacles where perceived as necessary resistence, just showing that the hedgehog again reached the top of the field before any of the hares. Anything goes - but not for too long.

For after all his experiments Ravi Shankar always went back to the traditional raga concert, which he, together with his long-term tabla accompanist Alla Rakha, developed into a hallmark with rhythmical mastery and dignified raga approach. With his open jawari and staccato sound he represented the lively and nervous aspect of the music - Maihar-style for coffee drinkers.

What made Ravi Shankar world-famous was not so much his individual language of sitar, but his personal development. He learnt the traditional ascetic musicians' life based upon a cosmopolitan foundation in a quasi postgraduate way. His amount of openness and salesmanship was not designated in the ancient guru-disciple-model. Ravi Shankar, a great, in music as well as in the art of being in the right place at the right time.

For some media about and from Ravi Shankar have a look at our homepage - books / DVDs


4. Calcutta 2010 - Travel Notes
- Notes by Yogendra -

A stinking, uncontrollably sprawling moloch full of slums and garbage, with people living and dying on the sidewalk amongst rats and vermin - that was about Calcutta's image until the turn of the millennium. Bengali artists and intellectuals tried in vain to subtend this with Calcutta's throbbing cultural life. Mother Theresa's asylum for the dying, the slum movie "City of Joy" and Guenter Grass's travelogue "Show Your Tongue" left a much deeper impression in Central Europe.

My own experiences during the 1990 were ambivalent. As a music student I was a frequent guest of my friend and teacher Partha Chatterjee and was regularly staying in his family's house in a relatively wealthy and quiet suburb called Saltlake City. I was mainly interested in the musical life, and that was indeed impressing. Regular concerts with leading artists were taken for granted. Moreover there was lot of informal exchange amongst musicians by means of house concerts, joint practice or teaching. For a young music student with access to these circles it was paradise.

However, my visits were overshadowed by the enormous problems that Calcutta was facing. The division of Bengal at Indian independence had cut the city off its back-country and flooded it with civil war refugees. The socialist Indian economic policy during the decades of the cold war failed to reduce mass poverty in rural areas and growth of the population. Millions of uneducated and penniless people kept streaming into Calcutta in search for a better life. Infrastructure and public utilities had been laid out in the 19th centuiry and could not keep up with the ever growing population. The result was an extremely dense urban sprawl, permanently clogged roads made up of potholes, slum settlements, rubbish piles and air full of stink, fumes and dirt. My coping strategy was to stay inside my host's house as much as possible in order to avoid burning eyes, dry cough and headache.

When I visited Calcutta again this February after a 10-year break my impressions were completely different. The fully developed road from the airport to Saltlake City went past a newly constructed ultra modern hi-tech suburb. This IT-hub of West Bengal attracts highly qualified specialists from all over India and competes worldwide with well-established Indian IT-centres like Bangalore. As far as the eye can see the borders of the town are covered with huge bountiful appartement complexes and shopping malls. Protected by fences and guards they offer quiet and comfortable living and shopping opportunities with Western standard - complete with recreation areas and independent power supply. The demand of the growing wealthy middle-class is increasing permanently and construction work is going on continuously all over the city - obviously Calcutta is booming. Whether the poor people benefit from the boom as well, or whether they are just pushed to the periphery, is hard to judge. But at least pavement dwellers and large slum areas are a rare view today.

The number of cars has increased so much that it has become virtually impossible to get parking space in the historic centre. A specialised kind of parking space mafia controls the few free spots and demands high charges for its service. Many roads have been fully developed in order to avoid a complete collapse of traffic. At the moment the subway network is being extended considerably, too. One might expect that air pollution has worsened even more in proportion to the increased traffic, like in so many other mega cities. To my amazement the opposite is true: I can breathe freely and survive the expeditions to instrument makers in the historic centre without any afflictions. The quick private motorisation seems to take place largely with modern low-emission cars. The formerly terribly stinking three-wheeler motor-rikshaws for short-distance travel have been converted to gas-fuelled operation and have received a symbolic new green painting. And the fleet of busses is currently renewed and changed over to alternative fuels.

Cultural life seems to flourish as well. An ambitious music and dance festival is advertised on huge billboards and many busses - a publicity campaign that formerly only large corporates could afford. Whether the trend towards larger cultural events with a more pronounced show character is good for artistic quality remains an open question, though. In any case there is a dynamic development, which opens up enormous creative possibilities for young artists keen on experiments beyond traditional limitations of style and genre. And the informal networks of Bengali raga musicians are still very much alife. Little has changed with our suppliers, the traditional instrument makers. They keep on producing individual instruments in highly sophisticated handicraft. And the discussions about meeting our specific quality standards remain arduous as ever...


5. Festivals with Indian Sounds
- Scene Info -

Indians sounds manifesting as mantras, ragas and world music play an important part in some major festivals in Germany in the next few months. Some of them might be of international interest as well. Here is a brief overview. You can find more specific and in-depth workshops at our workshop page.

  • May 13th till 16th Sixth Yoga-Vidya Music Festival in Bad Meinberg Yoga lessons, workshops and concerts with Dave Stringer, Hassan Dyck, Satyaa & Pari, Stephanie Bosch, Nanak Dev Singh, Sundaram, Harianu Harshita, etc.
  • May 20th till 24th Yoga Vision 2010 - Nada Yoga Intensive at Kloster Gerode Work with outer and inner sound for anybody interested in music and singing with Daya Mullins, Manmath M. Gharote, Swaramandala, Laura Patchen, etc. - click on "News / Aktuelles"
  • May 21st till 24th Rainbow Spirit Festival Baden-Baden Workshops, satsangs and concerts with Deva Premal & Miten, Satyaa & Pari, Peter & Aneeta Makena, Milarepa & One Sky Band, Raji & UTA-Band, Devakant, Felix Maria Woschek, Urmila Devi, Dinesh Mishra, Sarmad Ensemble, Kirtana, etc.
  • July 2nd till 4th Sixths Yoga-Festival Berlin Yoga lessons, workshops and concerte with Dave Stringer, Amelia Cuni, Satyaa & Pari, Urmila Devi, Ragatala Ensemble, Nanak Dev Singh, etc.
  • Otober 1st till 3rd Rainbow Spirit Music & Dance Festival Baden-Baden Meditations, workshops and concerts with Prem Joshua, Peter Makena, Sundaram, Chris Amrhein, Kailash Kokopelli, Sarmad Ensemble, etc.
  • November 12th till 14th Rainbow Spirit Festival Berlin Programm is still in the planning stage.

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