Newsletter July / August 2017

1. New Service – Website for Mobile Devices
2. Dhruba Ghosh – Master of the Sarangi, Composer and Innovator
3. Ravi Shankar – Posthumous  Opera Premiere
4. The Art of Practice (3/4) – Intelligence
5. How to Make (Indian) Music? (8) –  Some Other Vision of Reality
6. Workshops – August to October
7. Concerts – August to October


1. New Service – Website for Mobile Devices
- Company Info -

Mobile Website India Instruments

Recently, we have updated our website to make it suitable for smartphones and other mobile devices. Access to the main navigation with our instruments, media and accessories is via the usual three crossbars in the upper left corner of the mobile homepage. From the main navigation you can also access our network pages with concert and workshop calendar, background texts and many contact addresses. Language selection, search, shopping cart and contact form are also at the top of the mobile homepage.

Somewhat hidden at the very bottom is further information. All important shopping info is at INFORMATION - opening hours, shipping charges, terms and conditions, warranty, etc.
At MISCELLANEOUS there are novelties, repairs and our newsletter archive, among other things. This means that all the contents of our regular website are now easily available on mobile devices.

We hope that the mobile site works well and makes surfing at India Instruments much more enjoyable. We look forward to your feedback - whether it is technical problems, suggestions for improvement, praise or criticism!

PS: It is holiday time in our shop in Berlin from July 24th to August 13th. During this time visits in our shop are only possible by special appointment, the landline telephone won't be manned most of the time, shipping of orders may take a few days longer than usual and we won't handle urgent and time-dependent orders. Email communication will not be affected by the restrictions - we'll continue answering all enquiries quickly and we'll keep on taking orders and reservations. We beg your pardon for any inconvenience that may result from these temporary restrictions!


2. Dhruba Ghosh – Master of the Sarangi, Composer and Innovator
- Dhruba Ghosh – Master of the Sarangi, Composer and Innovator -

The great sarangi player Dhruba Ghosh, Grammy- and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, has passed away out of a sudden on July 10th in Mumbai, aged only 59. After the pioneering efforts of Ram Narayan and Sultan Khan he has contributed substantially to establishing the sarangi as a classical Indian solo instrument worldwide throughout the past decades. Apart from his life and work in Mumbai, he has spent a lot of time living in Bruxelles as well. His last major concert in Europe was his performance at the opening festival of the new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Here is a very personal farewell message from his brother Nayan Ghosh, written only two days after Dhruba Ghosh's death.

Dhruba Ghosh

Friends, it’s hard for me to gather my thoughts together, given the grief last two days. Dhruba, my younger brother, (Pandit Dhruba Ghosh), left all of a sudden Monday morning (10th July, 2017) for his heavenly sojourn. It was a massive cardiac arrest in the morning. Rushing him to a reputed hospital in the neighbourhood was futile. It was too late. We, the family members are in a state of shock and disbelief. Hard to reconcile. Might take some time to accept his physical absence.

Dhruba was an exceptionally gifted musician and composer. Our childhood was, musically speaking, one of gay abandon, where we revelled in learning and practising music together, studies, sports, being in the company of great musicians, who were my father’s colleagues. We were 1.5 years apart, but we grew up and did everything like twins.
In his teens and twenties, he devoted hours at a stretch for rigorous Riyaaz and making suitable changes to the instrument from time to time, to bring about a unique tonal quality. As years passed by, Dhruba grew into one of the most important Sarangi players of India, having further invented newer original techniques that would eventually go to form an independent language for the Sarangi.

An equally gifted Tabla player and vocalist, he developed skills for effective teaching, having taught vocal music for several years at Sangit Mahabharati, and even ably assisting my father in the administrative matters of Sangit Mahabharati. In his leisure hours, he would delve into composing extremely melodious music, composing Khayal Bandishes or creating tunes to the Ghazals and Bhajans of great poets.

Though over the last 20 years, we walked our own independent paths, I always felt so proud to hear reports of his successful concerts around. He had a fine sense of humour and wit and there was hardly a single day, when I wouldn’t remember his hilarious one-liners.

Over the last almost a decade, he was appointed Principal of the Bharatiya Sangeet and Nartan Shikshapeeth at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai.

In recent years, musically he inclined more and more towards the spiritual aspect of classical music. Maybe God picks his loved ones earlier, just as you and I would pick the best flowers in a garden before other ones.

May his lovely soul rest in eternal peace in His lap. Hari Om……

Dhruba Ghosh demonstrates and explains the sarangi.

Live video of Dhruba Ghosh with raga Madhuvanti, tabla accompaniment by Yogesh Samsi.


3. Ravi Shankar – Posthumous  Opera Premiere
- Background Report by Yogendra -

Ravi Shankar

The idea of unity of music, dance and drama, presented in the ancient Indian treatise Natyashastra, corresponds perfectly with the romantic idea of opera as a total work of art. And Indian subjects have often been used in the history of opera, from the baroque libretto Alessandro nell'Indie by Pietro Metastasio to Léo Delibes's Lakmé in 1883 and Philip Glass's Satyagraha in 1980. But till recently no one had ever used Indian raga music for an opera production with all the mighty apparatus of Western opera. The great sitar virtuoso, composer and world music pioneer Ravi Shankar, who has worked his whole lifetime on bringing the flowing, improvised melodies and rhythms of classical Indian raga music into composed forms, was the first to give it a try. As music director at All India Radio in New Delhi in the 1950s, he had founded an orchestra with Indian instruments for his first experiments with compositions. Later on he wrote three concertos for sitar and orchestra and one symphony, all of which were performed by renowned classical Western orchestras. Indian critics accused him of disfiguring the nature of ragas with his orchestral music, and Western critics complained that his works did not do justice to the complex harmonic tradition of Western classical music. But Ravi Shankar did not let himself be mislead and worked tirelessly on his last great vision of an opera with raga music until right before his death in 2012.

The conductor David Murphy, long-time musical partner in Ravi Shankar's orchestral projects and already closely involved with the compositional process while Ravi Shankar was still alife, completed the unfinished work. He was supported by Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar's daughter, who had accompanied all her father's projects during his last creative period, had regularly played on stage with him and had performed the sitar solo parts of his Third Concerto and his Symphony. Ravi Shankar's opera finally saw its posthumous premiere this May and was performed in Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham and London. Musical director was David Murphy, the staging was directed by Suba Das, and the production was performed by the 55-member London Philharmonic Orchestra, the 18-member BBC Singers, five classical Western vocalists, five classical Indian instrumentalists and Aakash Odedra with his dance company as choreographer.


Sukanya, so the title of the opera, tells a story from the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata. The old sage Chyavana is blinded after a tragic misfortune and young Sukanya was responsible for it. Sukanya marries the old man to atone for her fault. The Ashwins, divine twins, are bewitched by Sukanya's beauty and propose to marry her and take her to heaven. When Sukanya rejects, the Ashwins are so impressed by her virtue that they rejuvenate Chyavana and restore his eyesight. Ravi Shankar's choice of subject can be understood as a last proof of love to his second wife Sukanya. After a long-lasting affair and the birth of their daughter Anoushka he finally married Sukanya, almost four decades younger, in 1989 at the age of 68 and spent the last 23 years of his life happily by her side. This autobiographical reference is also evident in the libretto (by Amit Chaudhuri) and staging, e.g. when old Chyavana teaches his wife Sukanya music

The staging uses all means of contemporary stagecraft. The somewhat minimalist stage, limited by the requirements of a tour production, is animated by refined projections which create a mystical-Indian atmosphere. Lavish costumes and varied, dynamic dance scenes are a feast for the eyes. The interplay of Indian instruments, orchestra and opera singers creates an extraordinarily colourful, fresh and surprising music. And ihe sung lyrics are presented in subtitles. All these elements work together very well most of the time and result in a highly expressive, engaging and emotionally enthralling production. The response to the four performances was mostly very positive - from critics as well as from lay visitors. Particularly interesting are the views of British South Asians: they saw in Sukanya a coherent expression of their own hybrid cultural self-concept. Thus, Ravi Shankar's opera was not only a convincing show, but also contributed to the integration and legitimacy of hybrid identities in a challenging and often confusing time. Unfortunately is not yet clear when, where and how Sukanya will be continued. Will the work be seen as a milestone or as an artistic dead end or footnote in the long run? Music history will show.


Work in Progress 2014: Dance scene from Sukanya.
Presse Preview 2016: Tarana from Sukanya grand piano, soprano and mridangam.
Website of the Ravi Shankar Opera Projects  with lots of background info.


4. The Art of Practice (3/4) - Intelligence
- Field Report by Yogendra -

Practice makes perfect – a simple truth when learning any (Indian) instrument. But how does practice succeed? An approach in four steps...

We have seen that duration and regularity are important keys to successful practice. But it is not enough to just sit down and practice as often and as long as possible, of course. I also have to make the most of the time - and this means above all: practice intelligently. I need to know where I want to go. For this I need inspiring listening experiences, e.g. of a certain instrumental sound which touches my heart, or of a musician who brings me to a state of bliss. That's where I want to go! And I have to understand as much as possible which technical motor skills and mental musical capacities I need to develop to get there. This usually requires some initial orientation, in which I try out an instrument, get some lessons or participate in a workshop.


The motor skills are quite different depending on the instrument. String instrumentalists need completely different skills of the fingering hand and the plucking or bowing hand. Wind instruments require well synchronised hands, but also perfect control of breath, lips and tongue. Keyboarders and percussionists need to move their hands completely independent of one another. The common factor is that all instruments require highly specialised strengthening of certain muscles and perfectly precise control over them. Intelligent practice therefore follows a systematic approach with clearly defined issues – in a way similar to specialised sports training.

I start each session slowly to warm up and get a feeling for the right movement. When I have found that, I gradually increase the speed and intensity. After a while I pause or slow down again or practice something else. Music, after all, does not need a machine-like uniform execution but a varied living flexibility. Later in every session, however, I go to my limits as regards speed and intensity. That is the only way I can move these boundaries over time and gain more and more freedom of musical expression. It is not only about developing speed, power, range, stamina, etc. but also about getting more and more clarity, subtleness and precision. If I always lean back and just relax during my practice time, I remain stuck in a small, narrow comfort zone and my learning process stagnates.

The mental musical level of practice also needs clear structures. If I constantly work on the same problems only, I will not grow musically in the long run. I have to ask myself self-critically again and again: Where are my strengths and weaknesses? What is still missing in my playing? The answer to these questions should be change in course of time - and as a result, I need to refocus the practice as required every now and then. A good teacher can be very helpful in this process, of course. But with a healthy dose of research spirit, I can also come to a reasonable self-assessment on my own. Some useful tools can take over the role of the teacher to some extent, by giving me an external perspective on myself. For example a mirror shows me my posture and movements live in action while playing. When I listen to recordings of myself, I can gain clarity about my sound quality. And when I learn Indian music, I can calibrate my intonation to a tanpura drone and train my rhythm in relation to continuous tabla cycles. That way I can not only develop musically, but also learn something about myself.

On my musical research expedition, I occasionally reach a dead end - I can identify a weak spot, but I can not resolve it despite all efforts. Intelligence also helps at such points: it keeps me from giving up desperately as well as from uselessly forcing myself into something that just doesn't work. Instead, I can accept my current limitations and seek help. I can exchange with fellow musicians and ask them for advice. And I can consult a teacher who understands my problem and can recommend a solution. Thus intelligence not only brings a meaningful order into practice just for myself, but also opens up a communicative dimension that connects me with other musically inclined people. This, too, is a great potential of music – in addition to bring me bliss, it can also connect me to other people.

Duration, regularity and intelligence are essential elements of the art of practice. But the most important ingredient is still missing - joy! More on that in the concluding part of this series...


5. How to Make (Indian) Music? (8) –  Some Other Vision of Reality
- Quote by Osho -

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

OshoMusic says nothing, it simply shows - and that is the beauty of music. You don't think whether music is true or untrue; that is irrelevant. You simply listen to it. You become overwhelmed by it, you are possessed by it. You fall in tune with it. You are transported to some other realm, to some other vision of reality. You are not in the mundane world. Music takes you to the higher peaks of life and existence. It simply takes your hand and leads you, very politely, very lovingly, into the mysterious.

From: The Secret of Secrets, Band 2, Capter 4


6. Workshops - August to Oktober
- Scene-Info -

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

Yogendra 04.-06.08. HORUMERSIEL: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Jürgen Wade
07.-11.08. GR - CORFU: Hearts on Fire with Satyaa & Pari
12.-18.08. SEHLENDORF / OSTSEE: Nada Yoga - Dhrupad Summer Retreat with Susanne Ross & Iris Schmedes
26.08.-02.09. E - MALAGA: Ashtanga Yoga Retreat with Live Musik with Andrea & Govinda
27.08-01.09. BAD MEINBERG: Learn Harmonium and Kirtan in Classical Indian Style with Ram Vakkalanka
08.-10.09. GERODE / HARZ: Nada Yoga - The Healing Power of Sound with Frank Beese, Carmen Mager & Barbara Irmer
08.-10.09. LORCH: Mantra Singing Weekend with Sundaram
15.-17.09. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Devadas Mark Janku
22.-24.09. HEMMOOR / CUXHAVEN: Sitar - Step by Step... with Yogendra
20.-22.10. OY-MITTELBERG: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Jürgen Wade
27.-29.10. OY-MITTELBERG: Harmonium - Advanced Seminar with Jürgen Wade


7. Concerts - August to October
- Scene-Info -

More detailed information, locations and times as well as further dates in our concert calendar.

Pilsar Trio02.08. GB – LONDON: Aditi Banerjee - Khyal Vocal
04.08. AACHEN: Sukhdev Prasad Mishra - Violine
05.08. HOHNHORST/OHNDORF: Sundaram – Mantra concert
05.08. A - STOCKENBOI: Prem Joshua & Band - World Fusion
09.08. GB – LONDON: Yatheen J. Selvakumar - Carnatic Flute
10.08. GB – LONDON: Rishi & Varun Mishra - Khyal Vocal
15.08. GB – LONDON: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
16.08. GB – EDINBURGH: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
19.08. BERLIN: Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
20.08. A – GARS/KAMP: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
24.08. BAD ESSEN: Indigo Masala - Sitar, Percussion, Accordion
24.08. WIESBADEN: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
24.08.  A – REITH/KITZBUHEL: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
25.08. FRANKFURT: Balaji També - Mantras
25.08. NEUWIED: Indigo Masala - Sitar, Accordion, Percussion, Vocal
26.08. MUNSTER: Indigo Masala - Sitar, Percussion, Accordion
26.08. KRONBERG: Balaji També - Mantras
27.08. BULOWSIEGE: Sebastian Dreyer - Sitar
27.08. WEILBURG: Balaji També - Mantras
28.08. GB – LONDON: Deepa Hattangadi Karnad - Khyal Vocal
31.08. BERLIN: Balaji També - Mantras
31.08. CH - ZURICH: Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
01.09. PARETZ: Balaji També - Mantras
02.09. AHRENSBURG: Balaji També - Mantras
03.09. BREMEN: Balaji També - Mantras
08.09. STUTTGART: Balaji També - Mantras
09.09. KONSTANZ: Balaji També - Mantras
10.09. CH - ZURICH: Balaji També - Mantras
15.09. A - WIEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
15.09. MUNICH: Balaji També - Mantras
16.09. AUGSBURG: Balaji També - Mantras
18.09. DUSSELDORF: The Mumbai Project - Indo-Jazz
18.09. RO – BUCHAREST: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
19.09. F - PARIS: Abdul Wahid & Rehmatullah - Suroz
20.09. CH - ZURICH: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
23.09. STUTTGART: Bipul Kumar Ray - Santoor
23.09. NL – AMSTERDAM: Dinesh Mishra - Bansuri, Somabanti Basu - Sarod, Siddharth
Kishna - Sitar
24.09. A – HITTISAU/BREGENZERWALD: Indian Air – Sitar Diaries
28.09. MAINZ: The Mumbai Project & HR-Bigband - Indo-Jazz
29.09. FRANKFURT: The Mumbai Project & HR-Bigband - Indo-Jazz
30.09. F - PARIS: Pelva Naik - Dhrupad Vocal
06.10. STUTTGART: Rohan Dasgupta - Sitar
07.10. STUTTGART: Rafat Khan - Sitar
08.10. STUTTGART: Rafat Khan - Sitar
08.10. RASTATT: Rohan Dasgupta - Sitar
13.10. COLOGNE: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
14.10. GB - LONDON: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
16.10. F - PARIS: Arshad Ali Khan - Khyal Vocal
19.10. TUBINGEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
20.10. NL - DEN HAAG: Rukmini Vijayakumar - Bharatanatyam Dance
20.10. HEIDELBERG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
21.10. FULDA: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
21.10. F - PARIS: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
21.10. OSTFILDERN/STUTTGART: Govinda Schlegel - Sitar & Surbahar
21.10. STUTTGART: Mita Nag - Sitar
22.10. STUTTGART: Mita Nag - Sitar
25.10. NL - DEN HAAG: Sanjukta Sinha - Kathak Dance
26.10. NL - DEN HAAG: Sanjukta Sinha - Kathak Dance
31.10. A - GRAZ: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar

Go back