Newsletter April / May / June 2020


1. Corona Pandemic - Crisis for Indian Music and Indian Instrument Makers
2. Karunya Khol & Pakrashi Premium - Vegan Drum & Classy Harmonium
3. Reduced VAT - Instruments Get Cheaper
4. Online Learning - Courses, Clubs and Individual Sessions
5. Brief News: Elbphilharmonie Festival, Music Collection Saved, Anniversary in Bern
6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (23) – Listening Inside Oneself
7. Workshops & Concerts


1. Corona Pandemic - Crisis for Indian Music and Indian Instrument Makers
- Status Report by Yogendra -

The corona pandemic has placed the whole world in a state of emergency. Millions of people have been infected and hundreds of thousands have died already. Coercive measures are being imposed everywhere to block the spread of the virus and thereby save lives. But these coercive measures also cause damages and cost lives. Nation states dictate the rules while globalisation holds its breath. Indian music and Indian instrument makers are experiencing great difficulties at this time. I would like to tell about these here.

https://theharekrishnamovement.files.wordpress.comIn India, Prime Minister Modi announced an immediate nationwide lockdown on March 24 without prior warning. Economic and cultural life collapsed. Musicians could no longer perform and instrument makers had to close their workshops. There was no government aid and there is no
public social security system in India - people were left to themselves and tried to somehow get by with the help of family and informal networks. Musicians started to teach online and play online for free in order to remain present in the public. Instrument makers continued to work in their private homes on a makeshift basis. Employed craftsmen fled the cities to their families in their native villages. The poor were hit particularly hard: Many day labourers, migrant workers and slum dwellers escaped starvation only thanks to private food aid.

Since June 1, the corona restrictions have been gradually relaxed in India - although the corona virus seems to continue spreading. The number of confirmed new corona infections was less than 100 per day at the beginning of the lockdown, at the end of the lockdown it was 8,400, and since then it has risen continuously to nearly 20,000 per day (as of June 28). With around 570,000 confirmed infections, India now ranks fourth in the world behind the USA, Brazil and Russia. In relation to the population, the proportion of infected persons is much lower than elsewhere, but the unchecked increase in the number of confirmed infections suggests that a further escalation must be expected - even if it can probably be explained in part by expanded testing capacities.

For musicians, the lifting of the lockdown hardly changed anything. For the time being, free-lance musicians remain without income. International tours, for many an important source of income, are still just as impossible as larger concerts in India. And teaching is only possible to a limited extent or online. Those who can already live off the fruits of a successful career, who have a job (e.g. at All India Radio or a university), or who come from a wealthy family can consider themselves lucky. It remains to be seen what consequences this will have for Indian music in general. It is to be feared that the classical tradition of raga music with improvised live performances at its core will be further marginalised. On the positive side the massive increase in online activities by many musicians due to the crisis may lead to Indian music reaching new, younger listeners. And new artistic formats and forms of presentation could develop.
Instrument makers are facing great difficulties in getting production up and running again after the lockdown. The supply of raw materials and finished parts is difficult and the distribution channels have to be reactivated. The main problem, however, is the absence of employed craftsmen, who are now painfully missed. It is often unclear when (or if at all) they will return from their native villages to the workshops - the fear of contagion in the densely populated metropolises is great. The craftsmen are highly specialised experts for very specific work such as carving, polishing or tuning harmoniums. Most of them learnt their special skills as young men for many years and then refined them over decades. That is why they can hardly be replaced. The problem is worsened by a chronic shortage of new blood: manual labour has a low social status in India and is poorly paid. This makes an apprenticeship and career in instrument rather unattractive for gifted youngsters. For some time now, many instrument makers have problems with ageing of their staff, which reduces productivity through frequent illness and declining performance. In the long run these structural problems can probably only be solved by improving working conditions, increasing pay and wider use of machinery in instrument making. All this actually requires investments - but for most small family workshops these are harder to make than ever in view of the losses caused by the Corona pandemic.


2. Karunya Khol & Pakrashi Premium - Vegan Drum & Classy Harmonium
- New in our Assortment -

- S.R.I. Khol / Mridanga Karunya 340,20 € (EU price incl. bag)

Khol / Mridanga Karunya

Drumheads of traditional khols / mridangas are made of animal skins. They react strongly to fluctuating temperature and humidity and must therefore be adjusted continuously. In addition, traditional drumheads wear out during playing and therefore have to be changed again and again with great effort. Last but not least vegans and vegetarians are bothered by the fact that animals are killed to make the drumheads. All these problems are solved by the new S.R.I. (Synthetic Indian Rhythm) Khol / Mridanga from Karunya!

The small side has a very nice bell-like bright metallic sound and the big side has a really deep bass. The sound quality is similar to our Khol / Mridanga Calcutta Standard and is much better than our simple Khol / Mridanga Fiberglass. Drumheads and body made of synthetic and a sophisticated tuning mechanism made of stainless steel make S.R.I. Khol Karunya 100% vegan and extremely robust and durable. Moreover it holds its pitch perfectly. It is therefore ideally suited for challenging circumstances, e.g. on travels, while playing music outdoors, or for ashrams, yoga centres and kirtan groups with very different people playing it.

Pics, sound sample and full details of the S.R.I. Khol / Mridanga Karunya.

- Harmonium Pakrashi Premium 642,39 € (EU price, incl. bag)

Harmonium Pakrashi Premium

High quality in materials and workmanship, well balanced rich sound and a classy look are features of our new Pakrashi Premium harmonium. It is well suited for regular use at home, to accompany chanting groups or for playing together with other instruments - a smart choice for demanding people who like something special. Compared to the standard models, it has a considerably improved mechanism and quality of workmanship, making it pleasant to play and at the same time quite robust. The Pakrashi Premium is therefore an interesting alternative for all those who find Paloma harmoniums too expensive.

Pakrashi & Co. is a traditional harmonium maker from Calcutta. The company was founded in 1922 and is now run in the third generation by Suvojit Pakrashi. Pakrashi is known for high quality and groundbreaking innovations such as sliding keyboards (scale-changer) and folding mechanisms for harmoniums. The most recent development is the use of plastic instead of wood for the keys' sticks. This allows the production of exactly fitting sticks, and the keys can no longer warp over time.

Pics and full details of the Pakrashi Premium.


3. Reduced VAT – Instruments Get Cheaper
- Company Info -

EuroValue added tax (VAT) is temporarily reduced in Germany from July 1st to December 31st. The standard VAT rate will go down to 16% instead of the normal 19%. The reduced VAT rate (e.g. for books) will fall to 5% instead of 7%. India Instruments will fully pass on this temporary tax reduction to you - all instruments, accessories and media will get cheaper for 6 months!

At the standard rate, the tax reduction results in a discount of 2.52%. For example, an instrument that normally costs 1000 €, will be available at 974.80 € from July 1st to December 31st. This is a pleasant little saving which should not be missed - our instruments will probably never again be available at such low prices!

Please note that only residents of the European Union are entitled to the discount. Non-EU residents don't pay German VAT anyway and therefore cannot get a tax reduction discount.

4. Online Learning– Courses, Clubs and Individual Sessions
- Recommendations by Yogendra -

Online learning is booming - also for Indian music. Many people who are unable to work or only to a limited extent due to corona restrictions want to make good use of their free time by learning music. And for many musicians, online lessons are currently the only possibility to work at all. The ideal way of musical education is the traditional one-to-one tuition. Its individually tailored learning steps and very personal feedback ideally ensure joy in learning and continuous progress. However, online lessons in a group or with pre-produced modules can also inspire and help to progress.

Practically everyone with a new computer and good internet access can nowadays give and take lessons online, using Skype, Zoom or similar software. You can simply contact any musician who inspires you and ask directly whether he or she is ready to teach you! I can especially recommend teachers with whom I have learnt myself or with whom I play together:

* Sitarist Partha Chatterjee learnt from Nikhil Banerjee and Ali Akbar Khan and teaches at the Sangit Research Academy in Kolkata and in Germany and the USA -
* Sitarist Kushal Das plays in the style of the Maihar gharana, lives in Kolkata and gives concerts worldwide -
* Dhrupad singer Umakant Gundecha leads the Dhrupad Sansthan music ashram in Bhopal and gives concerts and teaches worldwide -
* Tabla player Ashis Paul is a senior disciple of Anindo Chatterjee, lives in Kolkata and plays regularly with me and many others in Europe -
* Tabla player, percussionist and singer Ravi Srinivasan lives in Berlin and plays Indian classical music and world music -
* I myself teach sitar in the style of the Maihar gharana -

You can also take a look at our European teachers' directory - there you find many teachers for various instruments who teach in German or other European languages, and whom you can visit personally if you wish.

In addition to individual lessons, there are also online group classes. My recommendation:


* The Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California, was a buzzing hotspot for students of Indian classical music from all over the world until the legendary founder died in 2009. Since then it has become a little quieter, but Swapan Chaudhuri, one of the most important living tabla virtuosos, still teaches there, and Ali Akbar Khan's son Alam Khan continues his father's tradition. There are classes for tabla, for sarod, sitar and other melody instruments and for singing on 4 days a week. Online participation is possible via live stream.

A cheaper option is working with pre-produced teaching material. There‘s a lot of free material on YouTube - but some of it is questionable or misleading. You should therefore be prepared to pay for high-quality teaching material. Some recommendations from my own experience:

Euro* Daniel Tucker‘s Bhakti Breakfast Club offers probably the most comprehensive, profound and systematic online teaching of Bhakti, Mantra and Kirtan music @ 25 US$ a month. The Bhakti Breakfast Club contains 46 video course units for harmonium of about 45 minutes each, 14 units on guitar, 4 on vocals and 4 on tabla. There are also 9 units of Bhakti Satsang with Jai Uttal, Shyamdas and Krishna Das. The membership offers unlimited access to all material and can be cancelled monthly at any time.

* Shaale ('school' in the South Indian language Kannada) offers teaching material on classical South and North Indian music, Indian dance, Sanskrit and Indian literature and culture @ 5 US$ per month. Included is access to live streams focusing on South Indian classical music and to an archive of past live streams.

* Tahir Qawwal‘s Sama School of Music offers teaching packages on singing, voice as a path of devotion and on harmonium. Here you pay 99 to 249 US$ per package once. Fantastic material for all those who want to go deeper into North Indian classical music in general and especially into the qawwali music of the Indo-Pakistani Sufi mystics.


5. Brief News: Elbphilharmonie Festival, Music Collection Saved, Anniversary in Bern
- Miscellaneous -

- Elbphilharmonie Festival -  Reflektor Anoushka Shankar


Reflektor Anoushka Shankar is the title of a festival, which will take place from November 5th to 8th at the renowned Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany. It is curated by Anoushka Shankar and comprises a total of 8 events. In concerts you can hear classical North Indian singer Indrani Mukherjee, classical South Indian singer Aruna Sairam, sarodist Soumik Datta with his world music band Jangal and drummer Sarathy Korwar with his Indo-Jazz project Upaj Collective. In a dance performance Mythili Prakash will show new perspectives on classical Indian styles. And last but not least you can see and hear Anoushka Shankar herself in 3 events: With her orchestral film music for the Indian silent film classic Shiraz, with a homage to the work of her father Ravi Shankar, and with her latest project Love Letters together with singer-songwriter Alev Lenz. Remarkable in the festival programme is the focus on youth, femininity and migration background, which reflects Anoushka Shankar's own biography.
Programme overview

- Music Collection Saved - Axel Elbin‘s Oriental Traditional Music from LPs & Cassettes


After the death of music collector and CD dealer Axel Elbin in 2019, it was uncertain what would become of the fantastic collection of classical Indian music in his blog Oriental Traditional Music from LPs & Cassettes. He had collected an overwhelming wealth of digitised historical recordings and published them with extensive, knowledgeable and subtle comments. Axel Elbin had stored all of the blog's audio files on public file storage sites, and after his subscription to Adrive had expired, the music links were no longer accessible. Gary Pro, Louis Farrugia and Daniel Fuchs have since worked hard and with great personal commitment to save this important collection of wonderful music. It is now freely available to the public again!
New copy of Oriental Traditional Music from LPs & Cassettes.

- Anniversary in Bern - 30 Years Musik der Welt / sounds of india


Stephan Lehmann has been organising concerts with Indian music and world music in and around Bern, Switzerland, with varying support in loose succession for 30 years - congratulations! Initially, the series ran under the name sounds of india and presented almost exclusively great masters of classical Indian music traditions. In 1995, sounds of india merged with the concert series Musik der Welt (Music of the World) of the then Swiss radio station DRS2 and the programme comprised the classical music cultures of the Arab world and Asia as well as sub-Saharan African singers. The series aims to provide inspiring concert experiences, open up new horizons, make connections and contribute to a broader understanding of different cultures. A noble cause for which we wish a long future and much success, despite all the difficulties of financing and implementation. The spring concerts had to be cancelled due to the Corona pandemic, but in September the concerts will continue with new momentum.

Homepage Musik der Welt


6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (23) – Listening Inside Oneself
- Quote by Pat Metheny  -

The series "How to Make (Indian) Music?" presents thought-provoking, inspiring or controversial quotes from artists and intellectuals.

EuroMy job as a musician consists first and foremost of listening: I listen inside myself and play what I hear, I am both an observer and a doer - a dream-like state. It feels as if I have a radio station in my head that transmits sound waves from somewhere, maybe from outer space. This station has played nothing but music since I was a child. If I could capture a hundredth of it, I'd be a happy person. What I hear is so much better than anything I can play.

Guitarist Pat Metheny (*1954) is considered one of the most influential and successful jazz musicians in the world. His film scores, group arrangements, classical trio jazz and experimental music are considered melodious but difficult to categorize. Quote from


7. Workshops & Concerts
- Scene Info -

Almost no concerts or workshops have taken place since mid-March 2020 due to the corona pandemic. Since the beginning of June, the easing of restrictions has made some things possible again, but the regulations vary from country to country, even within countries from region to region - and are constantly being updated. In this situation, it is difficult to reliably predict which concerts or workshops will take place and which restrictions will apply. Therefore we have suspended our online concert and workshop calendars for the time being - the effort for research and permanent updates is simply too much. We ask for your understanding.

Instead, we are publishing a list of links from which we regularly extract concert and workshop dates when we compose a new newsletter. Now you can see for yourself what promoters in your region are offering and what your favourite artists are up to. Have fun browsing!

Our list of links is ever changing. Please let us know If you miss links that you find important or if you notice links with errors! We are grateful for feedback!

DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA - Indian slide-gitarre


ANDREAS REESE - Harmonium workshops

ANOUSHKA SHANKAR - Sitar World music



BERLIN RAGA TRIBE - Indian classical



COLLECTIF ECHO - Indian classical

DARBAR FESTIVAL - Indian classical





FRANKFURT SANGEETHA SABHA - South Indian classical





JAI UTTAL - Kirtan






KLAUS FALSCHLUNGER - Sitar world music




LOVE KEYS - Kirtan

MAHARAJ TRIO - North Indian classical




MILAPFEST - Diverses

NEHRU CENTRE LONDON - Indian classical




OSHO UTA - Diverses

PREM JOSHUA - World music


PREMAL & MITEN - Mantras

PULSAR TRIO - World music

RAGA VEREIN WIEN - Indian classical


SAMA ART NETWORK - Indian classical


SARGAM TSCHECHIEN - Indian classical

SATYAA & PARI - Kirtan





SWAPAN BHATTACHARYA - Indian classical




UDAI MAZUMDAR - Indian classical


YOGA VIDYA - Harmonium workshops


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