Newsletter January / February 2017

1) Review 2016 - Anxiety & Bliss
2) Special Offers – Bargains & Treasures
3) Textbook for Dilruba, Esraj & Taus – Practical & Sound
4) Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan – Visionary & Rebel
5) Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan – Visionary & Rebel
6) How to Make (Indian) Music? (5) – Discipline & Determination
7) Workshops – February to April
8) Concerts – February to April

1) Review 2016 - Anxiety & Bliss
- Notes from Yogendra -

The world is changing. Certainties of the last 15 years seem to lose their validity. The European Union is unsettled by the Brexit, the strengthening of nationalist forces and the fear of terror. The US are deeply divided and led by a politically inexperienced and personally unpredictable president. Turkey staggers between civil war and slipping into a dictatorship. The Middle East is lit up in flames. Russia and Iran are fueling the conflicts through aggressive foreign policy, thereby increasing their influence. In Africa, hundreds of thousands are still migrating northwards towards Europe in search for a better life. In South America, conflicts escalate and lead to overthrowing, chaos and foreclosure. Meanwhile, the emerging China presents itself surprisingly as a stability anchor for the world. And equally emerging India, while almost drawing level with China in terms of population with now 1.3 billion people, shoots itself in the foot with a bumblingly executed new cash regulation, which paralyses large sections of the economy for weeks.

However, the total wealth in the world continued to grow in 2016. Millions of people found ways out of the stranglehold of poverty and misery, especially in China and India, but also in South America and Africa. But will this development continue? Is it sustainable? And can the rich countries of Europe and North America maintain their prosperity or even expand it further? Or is the economically so successful globalisation losing momentum now and we see the beginning of an era of nationalist allegiances, where conflicts over resources heat up and the complex economic interdependencies collapse?

We do not know. No-one can foresee the future. In Central Europe we still live in historically unprecedented wealth, political stability, individual freedom, and decades of peace. However, there is talk of crisis everywhere. Insecurity and fear are spreading. But it is precisely this anxiety which strengthens what it is afraid of. Therefore alarmism does not fit. Let's keep our feet on the ground. Realism is in demand. And a good portion of courage and optimism. These qualities help us to find solutions that work in spite of all difficulties, and to treat each other with respect and appreciation, as people and as countries.

Music can make a contribution. Because music makes you happy. The ancient Indian aesthetic theory already points to this: all the different states of mind (rasas), which are stimulated by music (and other arts) ultimately lead to the same essence - ananda, bliss. Making music makes you happy. Listening to music makes you happy. Music is vibration in a state of order and unfolds healing power. It speaks to the belly just as much as to the heart and to the mind. It brings us into harmony with ourselves and connects us with our fellow human beings. It focusses and it links us at the same time. Indian music is by no means better or worse than other musics. But Indian music has developed a more thorough traditional understanding of its effect on man than many other musics. The profound accuracy with which it has studied the finest colourings of individual notes and their connections and has examined the most complex rhythmic stratifications may well be unique in the world.

All this is also reflected in the construction and playing techniques of Indian instruments. That's why we love them. And that is why it is our heartfelt wish to offer them in the best possible quality. For us, they are a gateway to ananda, blissfulness - and we want to keep this gate wide open in these times. We thank all the people who have passed through this gate of ours in 2016 - some of them for the first time, some over and over again. India Instruments has been able to follow the path of quality and to continue growing a bit only thanks to you. However, this growth poses new challenges for us and our suppliers. Some instruments have been sold out for weeks or months because our Indian partners, all of them small family businesses, have been unable to keep pace with rising demand. This structural problem will probably persist in 2017. But the positive response and great patience which we have experienced from most of you encourages us to work on solutions. We keep our feet on the ground - on a magic carpet that we're trying to keep flying...!

2) Special Offers – Bargains & Treasures
- Company Info -

Bargains and rarities, curiosities and treasures – in our special offers section you can find everything that we do not sell in the standard assortment of our online catalogue. During the latest annual inventory at the turn of the year, we have discovered quite a few interesting special offer items in our storeroom... Here is a selection:

  • Vintage sitar from the 1940s - 990 €
  • Persian santoor - 450 €
  • Santoor Monoj Kumar Sardar - 580 €
  • Vichitra veena Paloma professional - 1550 €
  • Bamboo tanpura male XL - 490 €
  • Harmonium laptop N. Dutta - 490 €
  • Professional bansuris fromJeff Whittier - 150 to 250 €
  • 2nd hand pakhawaj from Delhi - 220 €
  • New fibreglass Balaram mridanga / khol - 225 €
  • Baya Narayan Badya Bhandar premium - 279 €
  • Manjiras / kartals rough - 14 to 16 €
  • Various electronic tablas - 49 to 149 €
  • Various electronic tanpuras - 49 to 149 €

(All prices for customers within the European Union, including 19% German VAT.)

Various electronic tanpuras - 49 to 149 € here - please click on the respective instrument for details. Enjoy surfing!

3) Textbook for Dilruba, Esraj & Taus – Practical & Sound
- New in our assortment -

A Practical Method for Taus, Dilruba, and Esraj is a textbook for these three popular Indian string instruments. They are closely related to each other in terms of playing technique, history and repertoire. A brief introduction to the history of the three instruments is followed by practical chapters on their structures, handling and tuning. Next is an overview of concepts and terms of the Indian music tradition and two chapters with basic exercises for left and right hand, systematically developing the skills for playing simple compositions. Finally the book includes five chapters with exercises and songs in the five Indian scales Bilawal, Kafi, Bhairava, Kalyan and Asawari.

Book - A practical method for Taus, Dilruba and Esraj by Michael C. Wheeler.The good didactic treatment is impressive. Beginners are taken by the hand and are carefully guided step by step. Several chapters end with questionnaires for checking the learner's understanding of that chapter, thus encouraging a more than superficial study of the presented information. Occasionally there is room to make one's own notes. Numerous figures illustrate what has been said. Again and again there are references to helpful other sources like books, films and websites. The layout is pleasantly large and clear. The parallel use of Western staff notation and Indian letter notation offers alternative access options. And the selection of music from classical ragas to Sikh kirtans, folk music from Afghanistan and the Punjab to Bengali Tagore songs offers a rich variety for different tastes - making the book a treasure trove for singers and other instrumentalists, too!

A Practical Method for Taus, Dilruba, and Esraj can be used very well as a basis for self-study. But it is also suitable as an accompanying material for studying with a teacher. In order to avoid confusion in this process, the book repeatedly points out the many different possible playing techniques that are used in different traditions. This can be seen as an invitation to try things your own way - which is a good first preparation for making your own technical and artistic decisions at a more advanced level.

The author Michael C. Wheeler studied Western music and world music in Great Britain and the USA, and learnt sitar from Sanjoy Bandopadhyay, Indian singing from Haresh Bakshi and taus from Surinder Singh. He works as a composer, musician and music pedagogue.

The author Michael C. Wheeler studied Western music and world music in Great Britain and the USA, and learnt sitar from Sanjoy Bandopadhyay, Indian singing from Haresh Bakshi and taus from Surinder Singh. He works as a composer, musician and music pedagogue.

A Practical Method for Taus, Dilruba, and Esraj – Level 1: Beginner is now available @ 22.00 EUR (plus 3.60 EUR shipping within Europe) from India Instruments. Further info here.

We would also like to recommend the Esraj Handbook by Austrian composer and esraj performer Denovaire (who also gives skype esraj lessons) – further info on his website.

4) Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan – Visionary & Rebel
- Obituary by Yogendra -

In the 1960s and 70s, music connoisseurs in India occasionally spoke of the Sitar Triumvirate or the Sitar Trinity. They refered to three outstanding artists, who developed new expressive possibilities for the sitar and raised it to unprecedented popularity: the world star Ravi Shankar, the sophisticated virtuoso Vilayat Khan, and a man who has remained relatively unknown in the West: Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan. In 1970 Abdul Halim Jaffer was at the zenith of his career when he received the Padma Shri, the fourth highest national Indian award at the age of just 43. He had recorded for movies and played with jazzers, had developed his own style, published recordings, and was a sought-after soloist on the great Indian stages. However, later on it got more quiet around him.

Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan Abdul Halim Jaffer grew up in a traditional musician family in Madhya Pradesh. His father Jaffer Khan was a singer, sitarist and rudra veena player from the Indore Beenkar school, and taught him from childhood. But his father died when he was still a teenager. He had not yet made a name for himself as a classical soloist, so he worked in the film industry to make some money and became one of the first sitarists to record music for Bollywood films in the 1940s. These early years of struggle for survival might have been crucial in shaping his personality. Without a teacher or a patron, Abdul Halim Jaffer had to find his own path, only following his inner voice and his own judgment. That way he became a musical visionary who played the sitar in a way that no one had done before. And he became a rebel, consciously ignoring traditional conventions and thereby unsettling the music establishment off and on.

Let us take a closer look at the history of this solitary charismatic genius. When the first Bollywood film came out with his sitar in 1947, he was 20. After that, he became rapidly known as a great talent among connoisseurs of classical Indian music. With his uniquely sophisticated pull-offs and hammer-ons and his unconventional raga interpretation full of jumps and arpeggiatures, he created his own personal style, named after him as Jafferkhani Baj. To him, the solemn meditative introductory part of traditional raga performances, known as alap, seemed unsuitable to the character of the sitar, and strictly regulated ragas with serious character interested him little. Instead of interpreting the classical raga repertoire, he was attracted to ragas with a lighter character, romantic mood and elements from folk music. He also liked playing duets with South Indian soloists and to present South Indian ragas in the North Indian style, thus incorporating them into the modern sitar repertoire. In 1958 he jammed with the great jazz pianist Dave Brubeck in Mumbai and is supposed to have influenced Brubeck's understanding of improvisation. In 1976 he founded his own school in Mumbai, the Halim Academy of Sitar. In 1987 he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the highest national Indian artist award. His experiments with polyphony were published in 1999 on a record titled Sitar Quintet. In 2006 he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest national Indian award.

One gets different answers when asking why Abdul Halim Jaffer's career got kind of stuck after the 70s. Some say his hearing had failed him and his playing had suffered from that. Others say that his unorthodox personality stood in his way. He did not believe in gharanas, the stylistic schools of the raga tradition, which have a significant influence on the public musical life in India through their networks. Sometimes Abdul Halim Jaffer said that note and beat were the only gharanas that mattered. Then again he said that the only true gharanas were the rigveda or love. His high literary education and pronounced inclination to bhakti sufism made him an eloquent and witty speaker, but also often erratic and contradictory in his utterances. Still others see the dilemma in his music. It evoked the image and feel of an intricately woven tapestry brimming with colours and textures, but might have been just too much on the edge of the classical raga tradition to be fully accepted there. That way he remained a visionary with only a relatively small number of followers, as well as a rebel who set himself aside from the establishment.

On 4 January, Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan died after a heart attack in his home in Mumbai at the age of 89 years. The Jafferkhani Baj on the sitar is now carried on by his son Zunain Khan.

Website of Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan with various videos (homepage not working anymore).

5) The Mumbai Project - Complex & Multi-faceted
- CD review by Christian Fischer-Schiedat -

Christian Fischer-Schiedat is a physician, jazz drummer and sitarist. One of his projects is the jazz quartet Parallaxe.

The Cologne-based pianist and composer Jarry Singla is certainly one of the most interesting jazz musicians of the present. For many years, he has moved beyond musical-stylistic boundaries; e.g. he worked with the Ukrainian singer Mariana Sadovska or the Iraqi composer Saad Thamir. Growing up in Western Germany as the son of an Indian father and a German mother, his musical journey of discovery began already in his early childhood, leading him to jazz via the Cologne Music College and the New York New School.

Jarry Singla During his studies he developed a keen interest in the classical music of India, which led him to several study tours to India with first contacts to Indian musicians. An intensive collaboration with the South Indian percussionist Ramesh Shotam, who also lives in Cologne, laid the groundwork for founding the Trio Eastern Flowers in 2009, with Shotam and German-Indian double-bass player Christian Ramond. At the invitation of the Goethe Institute, the trio played an extensive tour through India in 2011. Two years later, Jarry Singla received a scholarship of several months, which led him to Mumbai, where he made intensive contacts with Indian musicians and deepened his studies of Indian music.

From the numerous encounters and concerts, the ensemble The Mumbai Project was formed, with the musicians of Eastern Flowers trio as well as renowned classical Indian singer Sanjeev Chimmalgi, young sarodist Pratik Shrivastav and tabla player Vinnayak Netke. After an intensive rehearsal phase in 2014, concerts and workshops were held in Germany with the support of the Arts Foundation of Northrhine Westfalia and the double CD The Mumbai Project was created. In autumn 2016 it was published.

With almost two hours of playing time and twelve titles, the ensemble has presented a truly impressive, complex and multi-faceted work. Most of the compositions, which are the basis for extensive improvisational expeditions, have been written by Singla or have been developed collectively. In addition there are adaptations of Indian songs by Kumar Gandharva (Nirguni Bhajan) and Sanjeev Chimmalgi (Sangachhadwam) as well as a superbly arranged interpretation of raga Yaman. The musical spectrum extends from highly energetic, rhythmically and melodically highly virtuosic pieces such as Calcuniketan or Arohana to quieter melodic-lyrical moods, for example in Sarafi, to the mystical sound textures in Shloka III.

The most outstanding quality of the ensemble is the absolutely harmonious, always balanced aesthetics of sound and improvisation: the colours of jazz and classical Indian music merge organically into one whole. It is extremely fascinating to hear how completely self-assured and coherent the sarod and vocal improvisations develop in the context of complex jazz harmonies and how they always come up with fresh ideas. Likewise, it is fascinating how nuanced and profound piano and double bass present the play with shrutis. The whole recording is carried by a deep spiritual calmness and serenity. Finally, there is a good amount of playfulness and a great sense of humor, which make Jarry Singla's The Mumbai Project a real jewel. For me, The Mumbai Project is one of the most interesting and successful syntheses of jazz and classical Indian music there is – it is world music in the best sense!

Jarry Singla's website
Live-Videos of the Mumbai Project in excellent quality.

6) How to Make (Indian) Music? (5) – Discipline & Determination
- Quote by Ravi Shankar -

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

Allauddin KhanBaba [Ravi Shankar's teacher Allauddin Khan] has always been a strict disciplinarian with his students, but he had imposed upon himself an even stricter code of conduct when he was a young man, often practicing sixteen to twenty hours a day, doing with very little sleep, and getting along with a minimum of material things. Sometimes, when he practiced, he tied up his long hair with heavy cord and attached an end of the cord to a ring in the ceiling. Then, if he happened to doze while he practiced, as soon as his head nodded, a jerk on the cord would pull his hair and awaken him. From early childhood Baba was ready and determined to make any sacrifice for music.

7) Workshops – February to April
- Scene Info -

Details of all workshops are available in our website's network section at the workshop page.

17.03. - 19.03. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium for Beginners with Devadas Mark Janku
17.03. - 19.03. OLDENBURG: Sitar - Step by Step ... with Yogendra
07.04. - 13.04. SEHLENDORF / BALTIC SEA: Dhrupad with the Gundecha Brothers
14.04. - 16.04. ALLGÄU: Harmonium for Beginners with Jürgen Wade
24.04. - 30.04. BERLIN: Indian Music Workshop with vocalist Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay
28.04. - 30.04. NORTH SEA: Harmonium for Beginners with Jürgen Wade

8) Concerts - February to April
- Scene Info -

More detailed information, locations and times as well as further dates in our concert calendar. Sanjay Subrahmanyan - Karnatic vocalist

24.02. BERLIN: Manickam Yogeswaran - Vocal
24.02. CH - GENEVE: Sanjay Subrahmanyan - Carnatic Vocal
24.02. KRUGZELL: Govinda Schlegel - Sarod
25.02. MEMMINGEN: Govinda Schlegel - Sarod
04.03. GB - LONDON: Saaswathi Prabhu - Karnatic Vocal
04.03. BERLIN: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
05.03. BERLIN: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
06.03. BERLIN: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
06.03. BURGHAUSEN: Indian Air Duo - Sitar, Double Bass
09.03. F - PARIS: Reno Daniaud - Chaturangui Slide Guitar
11.03. STUTTGART: Neela Bhagwat - Vocal
11.03. WEDEMARK / HANNOVER: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
12.03. STUTTGART: Neela Bhagwat - Vocal
18.03. A - INNSBRUCK: Eastend - Sitar, Vocal, Drums
18.03. GB - LONDON: Kaviraj Singh - Santur / Vocal
18.03. NEUBURG / DONAU: Govinda Schlegel - Sarod
19.03. IRSEE / KAUFBEUREN: Govinda Schlegel - Sarod
19.03. GB - LONDON: S. Aishwarya - Karnatik Vocal
25.03. REGENSBURG: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
30.03. PUCHHEIM: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
01.04. CH - ZÜRICH: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
01.04. PLAUEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
01.04. GB - LONDON: Sherya Devanath - Karnatik Violin
02.04. GLONN: Eastend - Sitar, Vocal, Drums
02.04. STUTTGART: Soumen Bhattacharjee - Sitar
07.04. BERLIN: Indigo Masala - Sitar, Accordion, Percussion, Vocal
08.04. GB - LONDON: The Malladi Brothers - Karnatik Vocal
09.04. GB - LONDON: Ramakrishnan Murthy - Karnatik Vocal
09.04. F - PARIS: Shantala Subramanyam - Carnatic Flute Venu
13.04. NL – S'HERTOGENBOSCH: Joel Eisenkramer - Slide Guitar, Kees van Boxtel - Bansuri
17.04. NL - HAARLEM: Joel Eisenkramer - Slide Guitar, Kees van Boxtel - Bansuri
17.04. GB - LONDON: Shrinivas Joshi - Khyal Vocal
20.04. KARLSRUHE: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Double Bass
21.04. MANNHEIM: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Double Bass
21.04. DUREN: Jarry Singla & Eastern Flowers - Piano, South-Indian Percussion, Double-Bass
22.04. LAUTERBACH: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Double Bass
23.04. DRESDEN: Indigo Masala - Sitar, Accordion, Percussion, Vocal
28.04. GB - LONDON: Tarun Bhattacharya - Santoor, Ronu Majumdar - Bansuri
28.04. NL - MIDDENBEEMSTER: Joel Eisenkramer - Slide Guitar, Kees van Boxtel - Bansuri
28.4. DUSSELDORF: Jarry Singla & Eastern Flowers - Piano, South-Indian Percussion, Double-Bass
29.04. STUTTGART / OSTFILDERN-NELLINGEN: Shirin Sengupta - Khyal Vocal
30.04. GB - LONDON: Prateek Shrivastava - Sarod

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