Newsletter January / February 2018

1. Review – Trust in the Unknown
3. Harmonium Purchase Guide (3/6) – Context & Flexibility
3. Craft & Art in Bhakti Music (3) – Instruments, Time Measures & Ragas
4. Buddhadev Das Gupta – A Classicist
5. Anindo Chatterjee – A Tabla Maestro’s Journey
6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (11) – Beyond Pefect and Imperfect
7. Workshops – March to April
8. Concerts –  March to April


1. Review – Trust in the Unknown
- Notes b Yogendra -

We are living in uncertain times. The changes in politics, economy, technology and culture seem to be accelerating. Old former certainties are being challenged. Nobody really knows where we're going any more. And the problems seem to be getting more and more complex. Many people become deeply insecure and react with fears and aggression. In this way, conflicts get heated up and become more acute. Escalation spirals start spinning. How can musicians and music enthusiasts deal with this?

StarsLearning music is always a journey into the unknown. Even if I may have a goal in mind, I can never know in advance where the learning process will lead me. After all, every step opens up new horizons. What was initially difficult and strange becomes easy and familiar over time - and at the same time I discover new difficulties. The completion of one step is the beginning of the next. As long as I keep going, learning goes on and on. There is no end, and thus ultimately there is nothing to achieve or hold on to. What an impertinence! How I am challenged by it again and again! How much that pushes me to my limits - and beyond! I may easily fall into feelings of being despondent, incapable, worthless and frustrated. But why actually? When there is no goal and nothing to achieve, I am free! I can play, try, discover! What a gift!

Learning music means learning to trust. Trust in the unknown. There is an infinite amount of things to learn that other people have already researched and developed before me. Strange becomes familiar. And maybe I can even discover something completely new. Trust can calm fears and inspire courage. We need these qualities in our life, in this world and in this time. They enable us to solve even complex problems together. We, the team of  India Instruments, would like to contribute to this with our work. And we would like to express our sincere thanks to all those who have supported us in this endeavour over the past year and continue to follow this path with us in the future!

2. Harmonium Purchase Guide (3/6) – Context & Flexibility
- Background Info -

We offer a wide range of different harmonium models. But how can you find the right harmonium for your specific requirements? The Harmonium Purchase Guide gives you some orientation. It deals with six essential topics: mobility; sound & feel; context & flexibility; sustain, response & volume; tuning and trustworthy sources.

What do you want to do with your harmonium? What features should it have? Clarity about these questions helps you choose the right model. Decisive for the musical possibilities of a harmonium are the number and type of reed sets, the range and the additional features octave coupler and scale changer. The sustain is important as well, of course, but there will be a separate chapter on this in the next newsletter.

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There are harmonium reeds in three registers, one octave apart from the other: bass is for low tones, male for medium tones and female for high tones. By default, the majority of harmoniums have two sets of reeds, usually bass and male. Bass provides warmth while male gives clarity to the sound. Normally, you can use register stops to set whether only the bass reeds should sound, only the male reeds or both registers together. Models without register stops (e. g. Compactina / Dulcetina or Harinam) lack this possibility - all reed sets always sound together there. Harmoniums with only one set of reeds are unusual and are mainly used for learning or practice. They lack the sonority of two octaves vibrating together. Musically interesting are harmoniums with three reed sets, usually in the combination of bass - male - female. The additional female reeds give radiance and brilliance to the sound and improve audibility with their high frequencies, e. g. when singing with large groups or in instrumental ensembles. All three registers can freely be combined with one another, resulting in seven different possibilities of mixing the sound - compared to only three for harmoniums with two sets of reeds. If you appreciate a very flexible sound, this is a big advantage.

Tirupati Kirtan Classic

Octave couplers are simple mechanisms that activate an additional note one octave apart from the key that you press. The played tone is thus quasi doubled. This mechanism can be switched on or off as required. There are two different types of octave couplers that cannot both be built into one harmonium together. Octave couplers that double down to the lower octave give the sound warmth, impact and mass. When they are active, however, they also lead to higher air consumption, which can impair the sustain. Couplers that activate the higher octave add radiance, brilliance and sharpness to the sound. In any case, an octave coupler greatly expands the musical scope. Thanks to the octave coupler up to six reeds can be played simultaneously with one key in a harmonium with three reed sets, which results in a sound with almost orchestral fullness. The downside: octave couplers are additional components that make the instrument slightly heavier and potentially more sensitive.

Paloma Scale Changer

The scale changer is a mechanism that allows the entire keyboard to be shifted in semitone steps, thus changing the sounding pitch of the keys. This allows you to switch from one key to the other in no time at all, without having to change your fingering. If you are musically proficient and can transpose easily, this is not relevant. But if you don't have thorough musical training and you have to play occaisonally on different tonic notes (e. g. because you accompany different vocal groups), then the scale changer is a very helpful tool.

By default, harmoniums have a range of 3.25 to 3.5 octaves. Models with less range are smaller and lighter, making them easier to carry. The reduced range, however, is always a limitation of the musical possibilities and may lead to poor sustain. But if you already know for sure in which key and which style you want to play, a smaller range can be just right.

Overview of our regular  harmoniums.
Overview of our specal offers including several harmoniums.

3. Craft & Art in Bhakti Music (3) – Instruments, Time Measures & Ragas
- Conrtibution by Srikala -

Singing mantras together is a part of Bhakti yoga, the Indian path of devotion. Today, you can experience Bhakti music outside traditional temples in public concerts, at festivals, on the internet and on CDs. Some Bhakti musicians have become world-famous stars and many others follow in their footsteps. What musical skills are required of a Bhakti musician? Is Bhakti music a form of art? We have asked Bhakti musicians to address these issues. Srikala is an MC, Singer, DJ, producer, and percussionist. His live performances use his original electronic music as well as Indian percussion and ambient vocals. His projects incorporate dub, hip hop, reggae, world beats, and sacred mantras. His mission is to uplift, open hearts, and move bodies.

SrikalaII’ve been practicing bhakti for over 15 years. It has been what has awakened my desire to share my musical expression with the world. While living in bhakti ashrams in New York and Denver, I dove deep into the sacred texts of India. In that journey I realized the power of sound vibration. We woke up every morning at 4 am to sing, pray, dance and hear sciences of the soul. It was in that deep 6 year immersion that I learned that sound can be used as a way to bring healing and upliftment. It can be a way to ground myself and others into their center. Knowing that gave me great enthusiasm to bring together the science of bhakti with the genres that I love and grew up with like hip-hop, reggae, dub, dance. 

When I started my walk with bhakti I had some basic knowledge of music production and lyric writing. But I had no clarity or deep passion towards it. Through my deep dive into bhakti I learned how to play mridanga/khol and harmonium from experts. Learned different time signatures and an understanding of raga. Raga is the science of how sound relates to times of the day and seasons. Now 15 years later I have integrated all that I know into being an international performing artist and music producer.

My journey into bhakti didn’t start with the desire to be a performing artist or a music producer. This is what I find so amazing about bhakti: The practices within bhakti, of which chanting is the most prominent, clean you out and bring your purpose of life forward. The practice gives you the clarity and energy to step forward and live your life to the fullest. Whatever that may mean. For me it was music. For others it may be as a writer, a film director, a teacher. What I did know is that I felt strongly about learning a science of life that included music and sound. So when I found kirtan I felt like I arrived home - it is basically prayer, song and music weaved together to create freedom and wholeness in mind body and soul.

Srikala's website
Radha Ramana Ft. Srikala, Luminahdi, BrandX.
Om Namah Shivaya.


4. Buddhadev Das Gupta - A Classicist
- Obituary by Partha Chatterjee & Anustup Bhattacharyya -

Writing something about a stalwart is no mean task. The extraordinary stature of Buddhadev Das Gupta's personality which combines a musician, a scholar, a creative writer, a composer and a teacher has been idolised by all worthy people of our society. From the little that I gathered from out of my personal interaction with him, I can say only one or two out of the myriad aspects of such an eminent person.


Buddhadev Das Gupta was the senior-most exponent of one of the most authentic sarod gharanas today and was recognized worldwide as one of the finest masters of the sarod. He was born in 1933 in Bhagalpur, Bihar, and learnt the sarod from Radhika Mohan Maitra from the age of 10. The training continued for 38 years till the demise of his teacher. This is the longest and most intensive training imparted by the great maestro to any disciple. Side by side with his music, he had a uniformly brilliant academic career and went on to work as an engineer for 32 years. Buddhadev Das Gupta’s style was based largely on that of his teacher Radhika Mohan Maitra - emerging from a synthesis of the two gharanas, Senia and Shahjahanpur. However, it was his unique musical personality that shaped his distinctive style. In 2012, to acknowledge his contribution to the field of Indian Classical Music, the Government of India conferred him with the Padma Bhushan. Besides this, he also received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. Das Gupta was a guru of the Sangeet Research Academy’s instrumental division since it was established in 2002 until his death on 15th January 2018.

In him I observed two different traits. His ways in music and in life in general were a solid cast of traditional values. His innate respect for his own culture, his aversion towards outward show and grandeur, his essential modesty veiled often by sarcasm, his passion for purity in music, could be noticed at every turn of his brisk yet lively conversation. His firm intellectual grip over the form and content, whether in writing or in music, wrapped in with sureness and significance. His dress and manners bore that unmistakable stamp of tradition. One would have considered him to be a hardcore conservative, shunning all that is too much. When he taught an old composition, he would not allow an extra dot of embellishment, for all good reasons of course. He felt that any moment the student would add or take away a thing and mar the beauty of it. Whether in raga analysis or in rhythm variations, he maintained a very conscious and deliberate stance to make a very rational and convincing standard right through. Perhaps the consummation of divergent perspectives might have given him the realisation that music is a highly sane business and flamboyance might not fit in too well. Such masters deserve the seat of guru and are most welcome when they pinpoint the younger musicians and shout at them for their randomness that kills excellence in classical art. The quintessence of it all was restraint and the desire to conform to classical norms.


And yet the same person was free from all bias or prejudice in his evaluation of musicians of other gharanas. He was always generous to encourage, appreciate and bestow his blessings on someone who deserved. The person, who was so unflinchingly loyal to his own style, enjoyed so much composing stuff of other kind. His most well known compositions modeled in the pattern of Tagore songs are examples. A few minutes of his master stroke on the sarod in the film Ganadevata made me wonder the same way many years ago. Also while discussing any issue in music; I felt that he would never hesitate to accept a view which would be logical, even if it would not fit with time old concepts. He was a very natural person that way. He was progressive when it was a question of experiment. He was a purist but never a puritan.

The passing away of a colossus like Buddhadev Das Gupta is a great loss to Indian classical music as well as to the entire nation, as it did make the nation a lot more poor with the amount of knowledge and erudition that went with him. He is survived by his wife and two sons, and innumerable disciples he taught over the years, which include Debasish Bhattacharya, Bhabanishankar Das Gupta, Pratyush Banerjee, Anirban Das Gupta, Sugato Nag, Abir Hussain and many more.

Short memorial video.
Buddhadev Dasgupta teaches Raga Gujari Todi.
Complete raga: Jhinjhoti studio recording 1989.

5. Anindo Chatterjee - A Tabla Maestro’s Journey
- Felicitation by Pritam Singh -

In 2018 we celebrate the 65th birthday of tabla virtuoso Anindo Chatterjee, one of India’s finest tabla players. Born into a family of musicians, Anindo began his initial training with his uncle. He was only six years old when he won the first prize at All India Radio's national children's competition. The great master Jnan Prakash Ghosh was so impressed with the young talent that he asked to meet Anindo and later on accepted him as his student. From the age of nine Anindo began his training in the Farukhabad style and remained with his master till his death in 1997, nearly 34 years. Jnan Prakash Ghosh had the privilege of learning tabla and classical vocal music from many great maestros from different gharanas (schools). Thus he had knowledge of various styles, which he passed on to his disciples. He was a great scholar and musicologist, highly respected for his contribution of producing a whole generation of musicians. Anindo also learnt for a short period in between from the great tabla maestro, Afaq Hussain of Lucknow gharana. Thus, he is also recognised as a representative of this tabla school.

AinindoAnindo, up to the age of sixteen, was still living in his family home in a small village, just outside Kolkata. There he did his daily practice of six to ten hours, every day for many years. However, it required much more than practice to excel and get noticed among the many young tabla players in Kolkata. Anindo quickly became world renowned through performing with sitar maestro Nikhil Banerjee for many years, accompanying him on his tours around the world. In fact, his first tour abroad was back in 1975 to Europe, performing in Paris, Stockholm, Munich and Tubingen, where he released his first studio recording. Throughout his long career he has accompanied nearly all great masters of Indian classical music and has received numerous awards, most notably the President's Award in 1970 and the Sangeet Natak Academy Honour in 2002. But, as Anindo says himself, “the greatest award is the love and inspiration I receive from audiences all around the world.”


His tabla playing is mesmerising with its crystal clear tones, incredible speed and unparalleled repertoire of complex and authentic compositions. His personality is evident in his soft, gentle and effortless playing. He is highly respected by all musicians and music lovers, not only for his virtuoso playing but also for his innocence and humble nature.
Anindo is regarded to being exceptional in both, tabla solo and accompaniment. In accompaniment, his controlled approach, tonal quality and understanding of each artist enhance the performance. His every solo performance is different - he is spontaneous and plays whatever comes to his mind from his rich repertoire of compositions from varied gharanas. Anindo was recently asked about the difference between playing a tabla solo and accompaniment. His reply was quite humorous but so true: “Playing tabla solo is like being a bachelor: One is free to show and do as one likes, no restrictions. Tabla accompaniment is like married life: One has to compromise and be understanding. It is very important to listen and understand the lead artist, sometimes one may not like it but still one has to follow and be supportive. Interacting at the right moment is very important otherwise the harmony is lost.”

Anindo has been constantly performing from the age of nine and, even at this age, he performs 100 to 120 concerts a year. The rest of the year he teaches at his tabla schools in India, Europe, North America and Australia. We are privileged to have him giving tabla solo concerts in the Netherlands and Germany and a tabla workshop in Germany this March - don't miss these rare opportunities!

Tablasolo in Tintal.
Accompaniment Nikhil Banerjee in raga Zila Kafi.
Accompaniment Krishna Bhatt in raga Kafi.


6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (11) – Beyond Pefect and Imperfect
- Quote by Tyshawn Sorey -

Tyshawm Sorey

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

If I ever should be perfect - then I'm dead! Because then there is nothing more to learn, nothing more to discover, no more mistakes. I prefer learning and growing, trying to get better. Being able to accept imperfect things helps to get rid of the question of whether something is perfect or not - as long as you find a way to deal with an error. Music is something alive. It's not fixed. For me, it is important for a musician at the end whether he can overlook perfection and imperfections and accept them. It's a key to me.

Tyshawn Sorey (* 1985) is a jazz drummer and composer and has developed his own system for organising live improvisation in large ensembles. The quote is from the German weekly Die Zeit, no. 48, November 23rd, 2017.


7. Workshops – March to April
- Scene Info -

Details of all workshops are available in our website's network section.

02.-04.03 BAD MEINBERG: Mantra Singing - A Path to the Heart with Katyayani and Sundaram
10.03. ES - BARCELONA: Shabad Guru with Snatam Kaur
10.03. BERLIN: Learning Indian harmonium with Lea Rauh
16.-18.03. OLDENBURG: Sitar Intensive with Yogendra
24.-25.03. BOIZENBURG: Soul Radiance through Shabad Guru with Snatam Kaur
28.03. STUTTGART: Tabla Workshop with Anindo Chatterjee
30.03. WEIMccAR: Naad Yoga Teacher Training with Nelly Gian Geier & Surinder Singh
06.-08.04. OY-MITTELBERG / ALLGAU: Harmonium Learning Seminar with Jürgen Wade
09.04.-15.04. SEHLENDORF / OSTSEE: Dhrupad singing with the Gundecha Brothers
20.-22.04. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Learning Seminar with Katyayani
20.-22.04. BAD MEINBERG: Nada Yoga - Sing yourself into the Light with Anne-Careen Engel
21.04.-17.07. CH - BASEL: Tabla Seminar with Shankar Chowdhury
22.-27.04. OY-MITTELBERG / ALLGAU: Harmonium and Kirtan Week with Devadas
22 - 29.04. BAD MEINBERG: Nada Yoga basic training with Anne-Careen Engel


8. Concerts - March to April
- Scene Info -

For details, locations, times and further dates check our concert calendar.

02.03. THIERSTEIN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
03.03. BAD HERSFELD: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
03.03. STUTTGART/OSTFILDERN: Samrat Pandit - Khayal Vocal
04.03. HEIDELBERG: The Heidelberg Kirtan Project - Kirtan
04.03. ERFURT: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
05.03. WEINSTADT: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
08.03. CH – BIEL / BIENNE: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
09.03. F - NICE: Nicolas Delaigue - Sitar
10.03. REGENSBURG: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
11.03. ES - BARCELONA: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
11.03. A - VIENNA: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
12.03. PL - ANDRYCHOW: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
13.03. GB - LONDON: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
13.03. PL - WARSAW: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
14.03. PL - SOPOT: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
15.03. PL - ELBLAG: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
16.03. PL - KWIDZYN: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
16.03. HEILBRONN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
17.03. PT - LISBON: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
17.03. OFFENBACH: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
19.03. NL - AMSTERDAM: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
21.03. CZ - PRAHA: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
23.03. HALDENSLEBEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
24.03. NL - DEN HAAG: Anindo Chaterjee - Tabla
24.03. NORDHAUSEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
27.03. FI - HELSINKI: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
29.03. CH - ZURICH: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
29.03. STUTTGART/OSTFILDERN: Anindo Chatterjee - Tabla Solo
31.03. LV - RIGA: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
31.03. BAD MEINBERG: The Love Keys - Kirtan
02.04. BE - BRUSSELS: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
04.04. SK - BRATISLAVA: Snatam Kaur - Mantras
06.04. GB - LONDON: Janaki Rangarajan - Bharat Natyam
06.04. A - BUCH/JENBACH: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
08.04. HEIDELBERG: The Heidelberg Kirtan Project - Kirtan
12.04. A - WIEN: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
13.04. HEIDELBERG: Yogendra – Sitar
13.04. A - GUNTRAMSDORF: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
13.04. POTSDAM: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
14.04. CH - ZURICH: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
14.04. LAUENAU: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
15.04. BAD ROTHENFELDE: The Love Keys - Kirtan
17.04. A - RIED IM ZILLERTAL: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
18.04. WOLFSBURG: Yogendra – Sitar
20.04. BERLIN: Diptesh Bhattacharya - Sarod
21.04. STUTTGART: Prosenjit Sengupta - Sarod
21.04. BAD KOHLGRUB: The Love Keys - Kirtan
22.04. NL - DEN HAAG: Kalyanjit Das - Sitar
22.04. BRAUNSCHWEIG: Yogendra - Sitar
22.04. STUTTGART: Prosenjit Sengupta - Sarod
25.04. HAMBURG: Faiz Ali Faiz & Ensemble - Qawwali
27.04. GB - LONDON: J A Jayanth – Bansuri


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