Newsletter January / February / March 2021


1. Instruments: Hybrid Sarod, Female Tanpuras, Special Offers Harmoniums & Shrutiboxes
2. Learning Harmonium: Videos & Books for Mantra Accompaniment
3. 432 Hertz Tuning: Hype or Healing?
4. Craft & Art in Bhakti Music (6) – Musical Competence
5. Brief News: Harmonium Purchase Guide, Dhrupad of the Dagars, Indian Music Scholarships
6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (25) – Universal Yearning
7. Workshops & Concerts


1. Instruments: Hybrid Sarod, Female Tanpuras, Special Offers Harmoniums & Shrutiboxes
- New in our Assortment -

- Dorod Kanailal & Sons (7/8 Hybrid Sarod) – 789 €

DorodThe dorod has compactness, simple round body and decorated pegbox from the Bengali dotar. The four melody strings give the same intervals as on the sarod. High quality fretless metal fingerboard and very good sustain allow intonation and sliding movements as on the sarod. Two rhythm strings allow concise accompaniment patterns. Without sympathetic strings. Ideally suited for learning for children, as a travel sarod or for slightly higher tuning on D.
Further infos & pictures.


- P. & Brothers Female Hybrid Tanpura - 689 €

p.&Brothers Female Hybrid TanpuraThe Female Hybrid tanpura by P. & Brothers has the traditional design with gourd resonator, but is only 110 cm long, like an instrumental tanpura. This noble brand instrument offers high-quality materials and workmanship and the sound of a good female tanpura with tonic between G and A. The perfect female tanpura for travelling!
Further infos, pictures & sound sample.


- Monoj Kumar Sardar Female Flatback Tanpura - 690 €

Monoj Kumar Sardar Flatback TanpuraThe female flatback tanpura by Monoj Kumar Sardar is an especially compact and sturdy female tanpura for frequent travelling. Its solid wooden structure makes it easier to handle and much less fragile than tanpuras with pumpkin sound box. Its sound is as round, carrying, rich in overtones and strong in treble as the sound of traditional Monoj Kumar Sardar female tanpuras. Material and workmanship are of the highest quality. Standard tonic between F sharp and G sharp.
Further infos, pictures & sound sample.

- Special Offers Harmonium
Harmonium Pakrashi Maestro: professional model with triple reeds 789 €
Harmonium Pakrashi Premium Coupler: professional coupler model 589 €
Harmonium Pakrashi Premium Mini white: travel model with unusual white colour 489 €
Harmonium Pakrashi Compactina: high quality travel model 589 €
Harmonium Pakrashi Compactina Mini: extra small high quality travel model 549 €
Harmonium Tirupati Standard OM white: bargain opportunity with 10% discount 566 €

- Special Offers Shrutibox
Shrutibox Bina large 179 €
Shrutibox Bina small 129 €

Further infos, pictures & overview to all special offers.

2. Learning Harmonium: Videos & Books for Mantra Accompaniment
- New in our Assortment -

* Alice Radha: 49 Mantras für Harmonium-Anfänger - eBook for harmonium beginners with lyrics, chords & video links with harmonium & vocals to 49 mantras from different traditions.

49 Mantras for Beginners

You can accompany all 49 mantras in this collection with just the five chords C major, D minor, F major, G major and A minor - ideal for beginners! For some mantras you need all five chords, but there are also many mantras with fewer chords. And to keep it really easy you only use the white keys. The five chords are presented in detail: You will find fingerings, the different chord positions, and for each chord there is a video to listen to and watch.

The 49 mantras and chants come from a wealth of different traditions. The ebook contains the words for each one, the chord symbols above the words, and for each chord the notes used and the fingers used to play them. In addition, there is a video link for each mantra. It refers to a short YouTube film in which you can hear the mantra sung, receive brief instructions on how to play it and see exactly which keys are pressed and which fingers are used by looking at a harmonium keyboard. ebook means that you will receive a pdf file as an email attachment when you purchase the ebook. When you open the file on your mobile phone, tablet or computer, you can click on the links to go directly to the videos. Of course you can also print the ebook on paper.

eBook in pdf format, 51 pages, 36 €, free shipping.
More details & order.


* Alice Radha: 108 Mantras - eBook with lyrics, chords & video links with harmonium & vocals to 108 mantras from different traditions. ALL EXPLANATIONS IN GERMAN!

108 Mantras

A wonderful treasure trove to expand your repertoire. The 108 mantras and chants come from a wealth of different traditions. The ebook contains the words for each one with chord symbols above the words. 15 mantras also contain the notes for each chord and the fingers used to play the chords. 30 mantra wordings are written in diacritical Sanskrit. In addition, there is a video link for each mantra. It refers to a short YouTube film in which you can hear the mantra sung, receive brief instructions on how to play it and see exactly which keys are pressed and which fingers are used for it by looking at a harmonium keyboard.

The book is rounded off by an overview table with all possible major and minor triads in root position and first and second inversion - a total of 72 chords. Ebook means that you will receive a pdf file as an email attachment whith your purchase. When you open the file on your mobile phone, tablet or computer, you can click on the links to go directly to the videos. Of course you can also print the eBook on paper.

PLEASE NOTE: All written and spoken explanations in the ebook and the videos are in German. If you don‘t know any German you can copy and paste the German passages from the ebook and get them translated by or similar free online tools. The core of this media combination are the written words and chords of the mantras and their practical video demonstrations, not the German explanations.

eBook in pdf format, 67 pages, 36 €, free shipping.
More details & order.

* Bhagavantee A. Paul: Learn to Play Harmonium - Introduction for Beginners

How to Play Harmonium

The book starts with a short introduction to history, care and the basics of playing. Next are simple exercises: Playing with twins and triplets in pentatonic five-note scales is fun even for total beginners and trains the flexibility and coordination of all five fingers. Now it's off to music theory: All the sharp, flat, major and minor scales of classical western music theory are introduced in western notation, starting with the C major scale. Then it goes to intervals, chords, chord inversions and rhythm. This is followed by chord charts in graphic presentation on a keyboard diagram. Finally, there are nine notated spiritual songs for practice. The first three have chord accompaniment and fingering written out. For all the others, only the melody, text and chord symbols are given.

The booklet can be helpful if you
- are already somewhat familiar with western notation and now want to play notated melodies and their chord accompaniment on the harmonium
- want to know which fingerings you can use on the harmonium to play the chords that are often indicated with letters above notated melodies
- want to better understand the system of sharp and flat note symbols in notated melodies, so that you can read them more easily and play them on the harmonium

27 pages, A4, numerous graphics and notations, 22 €.
More details & order.


3. 432 Hertz Tuning: Hype or Healing?
- Background Feature by Yogendra -

432-440 Hz432 vibrations per second - in recent years there have been more and more voices claiming that precisely this frequency has a multitude of wonderful effects on people. It is said to heal, relax, lighten the mood, open the heart, promote inner development, release blockages, connect with heaven and earth, harmonise body and soul, resonate with the human body, promote healthy cell metabolism, synchronise the brain hemispheres and harmonise the DNA. The explanations offered for these miraculous powers range from the pulsation of the earth in the Schumann resonance of 8 hertz, the orbital period of the earth around the sun with an octave frequency of 136.1 hertz, the claim that Mozart and Verdi composed in 432 hertz, the findings of Rudolf Steiner and the supposed perception limit of the human ear at 16 hertz, to ancient knowledge of the Hebrews, Egyptians, Sumerians and Indians (who allegedly have always tuned their sitars to the earth tone C-sharp at 136.1 hertz). What's going on here?

Ravi Shankar

Let's start with the Indians. The erroneous belief in a universal Indian fundamental tone of C-sharp probably goes back to Hans Cousto. Inspired by a "vision on mushrooms", Cousto understood planetary rotations and orbits as extremely slow oscillations, which can be converted into audible tone frequencies by multiple octavation / doubling. He first published his ideas in 1979 in his book "Farbton, Tonfarbe und die Kosmische Oktave" (Tone of Colour, Colour of Tone and the Cosmic Octave). For the earth year tone, he calculated a C sharp with a frequency of 136.1 hertz - somewhat lower than the C sharp based on A at 440 hertz. This slightly lower C sharp is the fundamental note of Indian music, Cousto wrote. In a 2017 interview, he tells how he came up with this claim: "I happened to be reading a book by Ravi Shankar at the time, My Music My Life, and there he describes exactly how the Indian C sharp is tuned a little lower than our European C sharp, that this is precisely the keynote 'Sa'." Unfortunately, Cousto has misread thoroughly. In the first section of "My Music, My Life"Ravi Shankar writes: "SA itself does not have a fixed pitch like middle C in the Western scale. It corresponds more accurately to what the Westerners call the moveable DO." And in the fourth section he says about the tuning of sitars: "Depending on the size and strength of the instrument, the SA may vary anywhere from B natural to D natural." The then very well-known music journalist Joachim-Ernst Berendt, in turn, adopted Cousto's freely invented assertion of the lower C sharp as the fundamental of Indian music in his 1983 bestseller "Nada Brahma - The World is Sound" - and thus contributed enormously to the creation of this legend.

In fact classical Indian music tradition knows precisely defined interval ratios, but no absolutely defined fundamental with a specific frequency. The fundamental SA is freely determined by the soloist according to the pitch of the voice or the nature of the instrument. All accompanying musicians tune to the individually defined SA. And all other tones are defined in relation to it. This was also common practice in Europe for centuries. There was simply no way to measure and record frequencies exactly. The pitch of singers fluctuates depending on the time of day and the personal mood, string instruments react to temperature and humidity, wind instruments change pitch depending on the embouchure, and even organs, which have been in use since the Middle Ages, change their pitch over time. For a long time, there was no question of a precisely determined frequency of the fundamental tone, but of the good harmony of a specific ensemble.

It was not until the invention of the tuning fork in 1711 that it became possible to always tune to the same precisely defined tone - which made it much easier to play together in larger ensembles in Western classical music. In different regions and musical styles, however, very different tuning tones continued to be used. Thanks to historical tuning forks, we know that the tuning pitch A towards the end of the 18th century was roughly between 400 and 450 hertz. It was not until the 19th century (with the strengthening of the nation states and increasing international integration in musical life) that binding standards for the A tuning pitch were defined. France legally set it at 435 hertz, while in Great Britain 452 hertz was first set as the Philharmonic Pitch and later 439 hertz. Finally, in 1939, the forerunner of today's International Organisation for Standardisation unified the various regulations to a general standard of 440 hertz. This agreement is still valid today and is above all a pragmatic compromise that facilitates cooperation and marketing for the music industry worldwide. However, it is not binding on anyone. Classical symphony orchestras today, for example, usually play on slightly higher pitches, while early music ensembles use much lower historical pitches. And in Indian classical music, every soloist still tunes as he or she sees fit.

432 versus 440 Hz tuningOur brief look at history and to India shows that people have always and everywhere sought and found musical sounds that were so gratifying that they dedicated their lives to them. The exact frequency of the fundamental does not seem to have played a significant role. The wonderful thing about music is its variety - the timbres of voices and instruments, the rhythms, melodies and harmonies, their connection with words, their unfolding in space and time, the resonance of our bodies, the touching of our souls, the feeling of freedom and transcendence that it conveys – not the exact frequency of the fundamental. Those who believe that 432 hertz is the only healing and blissful fundamental vibration of everything, are possibly buying into a short-lived hype and fail to recognise the infinite complexity of music. But those who feel their well-being is enhanced by sounds tuned to 432 hertz should enjoy it to their heart's content. Long live diversity!

All stringed instruments and drums at India Instruments can be flexibly tuned to 432 hertz, 440 hertz or other desired reference tones. Harmoniums or shrutiboxes, however, are difficult to retune - so a decision has to be made when buying them. Since the late 20th century, the few Indian manufacturers of harmonium reeds have only produced reeds according to the 440 hertz standard. Other tunings are probably not economically viable. That is why we supply all harmoniums and shrutiboxes with standard tuning around 440 hertz. However, we also offer shrutiboxes in 432 hertz in our regular range. Harmoniums in 432 hertz are also available as custom-made instruments. These instruments are manually tuned lower by grinding off the reeds at their base. However, the thinner base makes the reeds less stable and more prone to getting out of tune. The second disadvantage is that playing together is only possible with instruments that can be tuned very flexibly, or with instruments that are also tuned to 432 hertz - and these are rare. Thirdly, it may become more difficult to sell the instrument when it is no longer needed. And finally, it must be remembered that the exact number of vibrations of the metal reeds is influenced by temperature and blowing pressure. Harmoniums and shruti boxes that we have set to 432 hertz at 20 degrees room temperature and moderate blowing pressure sound lower when it is considerably warmer and they are played with high pressure - and higher in cold surroundings. We therefore recommend the purchase of harmoniums and shrutiboxes in 432 hertz only after thorough consideration of pros and cons.

Written interview with Hans Cousto in German.

4. Craft & Art in Bhakti Music (6) – Musical Competence
- Contribution by Yogendra -

MusiktheorieSinging 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? 5 bhakti musicians have addressed these issues between September 2017 and August 2018. Now, with a little distance, Yogendra concludes the series. He is a classical Indian sitarist, has been observing the development of the scene since the 90s and has accompanied bhakti musicians at concerts and festivals.

Aleah Gandharvika has celebrated freedom of expression, Manish Vyas has demanded respect for tradition, Srikala has invoked the power of sound vibration, Deva Premal & Miten have focused on clear intention and Sundaram has emphasised a careful approach to tradition. All this is right and important. But something very crucial has been missing in the contributions so far. Something so obvious that it seemed perhaps unnecessary to talk about it: Bhakti music is not only bhakti but also music. And music needs musical competence. Without musical competence, no one can successfully lead singing circles, give workshops and concerts, compose and produce recordings.

Bhaktifest 2021Bhakti music is basically rather simple; melodies, rhythms and lyrics have to be easy enough to invite immersion and singing along. And the individual pieces are usually repetitive and more extended than the typical song format. But of course bhakti music should not be boring - on the contrary. What is needed, therefore, is an artful use of suggestive timbres to create the desired atmospheres and appeal to the emotional level. And while melody and text usually remain the same, the pieces often become faster and more dynamic in several stages as they progress. This classic dramaturgy of increasing speed animates the participants, pulls them into the music, and allows long arcs of suspense to build up with the the ever-increasing intensity. The participants can let go and completely surrender to the liberating experience - as Nadine Webering wonderfully described it in the previous newsletter. In order to make such an experience possible, bhakti musicians do not need breathtaking virtuosity, but they do need a high level of competence.

In fact, many bhakti musicians have gone through deep musical learning processes before their bhakti career. Deva Premal had lessons in singing, violin and piano as a child, Sundaram studied Western classical Western music, Manish Vyas learned Indian classical music from an early age, Satyaa (Satyaa & Pari) studied piano, Snatam Kaur played kirtans in Sikh temples with her mother when she was a child, Vijay Krishna (Kirtaniyas) grew up surrounded by music as the son of a sound engineer and learned singing and percussion in India as a teenager. Miten, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal and Dave Stringer had been professionals in the music business for many years before they became known as bhakti musicians. And Markus Sieber, besides working in the duo Mirabai Ceiba, continues to release his own music under the name Aukai.

Musical competence is a combination of skill and knowledge. Above all, skill needs practice. It often develops over many years and leads to a confident, differentiated, flexible and spontaneous handling of instruments and voices. Knowledge needs experience. It flows into instrumental or vocal ability, but also points beyond it. It is about a more comprehensive understanding of musical phenomena: about intervals, scales, melody, rhythm and harmony as the foundations of almost all music; but also about different styles and traditions, about ancient tunings and the latest audio technology. Only when composition and arrangement are appealing do participants feel invited. Only when tuning and intonation are accurate will the desired beauty of sound emerge. Only when the rhythm is articulated clearly and powerfully will a pulsating, carrying groove emerge. Only when the musicians respond sensitively to each other and to the participants does the blissful experience of connection with each other and with the world arise, which most people seek in bhakti music. What could be more beautiful?


5. Brief News: Harmonium Purchase Guide, Dhrupad of the Dagars, Indian Music Scholarships
- Scene Info -

Harmonium Purchase Guide – Info & Orientation

Harmonium Sarang Kirtan ClassicIn 2017/18 our newsletter has featured a six part series with comprehensive information on buying harmoniums. Now we have updated and edited the series and published it on our website. The Harmonium Purchase Guide discusses seven essential topics: 1 - Sound & Feel; 2 - Musical Features: Reeds, Registers, Range, Drones, Octave Coupler, Scale Changer; 3 - Mechanical Features: Keys, Bellows & Wood; 4 - Sustain, Response & Volume; 5 – Mobility; 6 – Tuning; 7 – Sources. The Harmonium Purchase Guide is intended to answer FAQs, present an overview and give you basic knowledge and orientation. We would like to constantly improve it to meet your requirements. Please send your feedback to

Harmonium Purchase Guide.

Dhrupad of the Dagars - Conceptual Foundations and Contemporary Questions

Cover Dhrupad of the DagarsThe publication had been announced for a long time - now the book is finally available: Dhrupad of the Dagars is probably the most comprehensive and well-founded study of the Dagar family of musicians that has been published so far. Like no one else, the Dagars have contributed to saving the ancient dhrupad style from extinction in the 20th century, to keeping it alive and bringing it to greater public attention and appreciation. The author Ashish Sankrityayan, himself a dhrupad singer, a student of the Dagars, and since 2011 the director of the Dhrupad Kendra Bhopal, combines insider knowledge, his own experiences as a teacher and performer, and musicological research into an opulent overall view. 836 pages in large format and over 600 b/w photos make the book not only a unique fund of knowledge, but also a feast for the eyes. Anyone who wants not only to enjoy or practice dhrupad but also to understand it will welcome Dhrupad of the Dagars with joy.
Photos with table of contents and excerpts.

ISBN 978-81-215-1301-2, Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi 2020, also available directly from the author:

Scholarships for the Study of Indian Music - Indian Council for Cultural Relations

ICCRR LogoThe state-run Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), founded in 1950, has for years been prominent in Europe, mainly by supporting tours of classical Indian music and dance ensembles. In view of the Corona pandemic, these activities have been put on hold, though. Perhaps that is why the ICCR is now getting involved in a new field: with two international scholarships for research into Indian music. The research scholarships are awarded to eminent foreign musicians, artists or scholars who have at least 10 years of practical or scholarly experience and are over 35 years of age. They are attached to a mutually selected cultural or scientific institution in India, have a duration of 3 to 12 months, and include a monthly payment and air travel.

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Fellowship for Music.

Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan Fellowship for Music.


6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (25) – Universal Yearning
- Quote by Tenzin Gyatso, XIV. Dalai Lama -

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

Among the many forms in which human spirit has tried to express its innermost yearnings and perceptions, music is perhaps the most universal. It symbolizes the yearnings for harmony, with oneself and with others, with nature and with the spiritual and the sacred within us and around us. There is something in music that transcends and unites. This is evident in the sacred music of every community – music that expresses the universal yearning that is shared by people all over the globe.

Quote from: Music Sacra International, Programme booklet for the festival 2 - 9 June 2006, greeting p.3.


7. Workshops & Concerts
- Scene-Info -

Reliable planning of concerts and workshops with a physical presence is still impossible due to ever-changing restrictions caused by the Corona Pandemic. That's why our online calendars are still in lockdown: we are currently not posting any event dates - the effort for research and constant updates would simply be too great. We ask for your understanding - and very much hope that concerts and workshops can be reliably held again soon!


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