Newsletter June 2010

1. Book & CD: Nada Yoga
- New in our Assortment -

Yoga offers many ways to the inner self. One of the lesser known ways is called nada yoga, working with sound. "Nada Yoga - Hinwendung zum inneren Klang" is the first comprehensive basic book on the subject in German, written by long-term nada yoga teachers Barbara Irmer and Carmen Mager. The book is supplemented by a CD with the same title, performed by the authors together with musician Frank Beese.

The clear language, structure and design of the book are captivating. Theoretical base is the philosophy of the cosmic sound nada brahman, of the Sanskrit language and of the holy syllable OM. The practical part starts with general exercises for releasing the voice and for refining the sense of hearing. It moves more specifically into yoga with hatha yoga exercises, kirtans, chants and mantras and finally progresses into meditations on the subtle inner sound. The book is completed by chapters on nada yoga in Indian raga music, on working with Indian instruments like the tanpura and harmonium, and on mantras and spiritual songs from shamanic, islamic and christian traditions. Last but not least there are several appendices on technical terms, Indian gods and goddesses, pronunciation of Sanskrit and further literature. Drawings, photographs and notations throughout help to make the text easily accessible. All in all a very informative and inspiring reader and workbook on a unique subject.

The CD Nada Yoga gives immediate life to the contents of the book - an audio impression can say more than many words. There is reciting and singing of the mantras notated in the book, reading of short texts, practice of vocal exercises, performance of ragas and playing of a tanpura drone. Everything is presented with such pleasing, harmonious sound, that one is equally invited to sit back and just listen as to actively take part in the exercises. Longest track with 16 minutes is a guided meditation on the inner sound. Book and CD are sold separately, but they complement each other so perfectly that anybody seriously interested in nada yoga should work with both media together. However, the CD can also be a great tool just by itself - especially if you are unable to read a book in German...

The book Nada Yoga (200 p., hard cover) is available from us for 19.95 Euro, the CD Nada Yoga (running time 76 min.) is 17.95 Euro (plus shipping).


2. CD: Bhairavi - beauty of nature
- New in our Assortment -

Classical Indian ragas are the heart of this enchanting publication of the small German label Malola, known for unusual productions of spiritual music from India. Raga CDs are usually focused on one famous virtuoso, but this recording gets by without any celebrity cult. It rather tries to create a very specific timeless and relaxed atmosphere - a tribute to the Hindu's holy city Varanasi and to the holy river Ganges, as the subtitle says. That is beautifully achieved by combining soundscapes from life in Varanasi with mantra recitations and performances of various popular ragas on a variety of instruments. However, the production remains puristic enough to avoid esoteric kitsch or ambient wishy-washy.

Six ragas are performed, namely Lalit, Bhairavi, Pahadi, Mian-ki-Malhar, Darbari and Mishra Khamaj. They are played by Jibendra Narayana Goswami (sitar), Sohan Lal (shahnai and bansuri), Sudeep Mishra (sarangi) and Mani Tripathi (tabla) - partly as solo alap, partly jointly by several melody instruments together, and occaisonally also accompanied by tabla. The performers' names might not be known to anybody and their skills might not match those of the great masters, but that does not matter at all, because the common virtuoso fireworks are not the point here. The plain simplicity, calmness, serenity and sensitivity of their music is tremendously charming on a different level. Instead of stunning you into breathless amazement, it invites you to relax, take a deep easy breath and feel a subtle joy inside yourself.

The CD Bhairavi - beauty of nature is now available from us for 14,- Euro (plus shipping).


3. Summer Vacation at India Instruments
- Company Info -

From July 10th till July 25th our shop in Berlin will be closed for summer vacation. Nothing will be shipped during that period. However, we will keep on responding to e-mails and take reservations for items to be shipped from July 26th onwards. Please send us your order of any large instrument by July 5th to make sure that we can still ship it before the vacation. Shipping of small items can still be managed before the vacation if your order reaches us by July 7th.


4. 75th Birthday of Debu Chaudhuri
- Felicitations -

Sitar virtuoso Devabrata Chaudhuri, better known as Debu, was honoured by a concert evening in Delhi on May 30th, on occaison of his 75th birthday. Performances were given by Debu himself and by khyal singer Rashid Khan, accompanied on tabla by Satyajit Talwalkar.

Debu Chaudhuri is the most eminent disciple of Mushtaq Ali Khan, legendary master of the Jaipur-Senia-Gharana, who passed away in 1989. The most visible peculiarity of this gharana is the use of only 17 frets on the sitar, instead of the commonly used 20. Debu Chaudhuri's music is widely appreciated in India. He was dean of the music faculty of Delhi University for decades, published several books and received the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian Indian state order. Today he directs his own music institute in Delhi. Debu Chaudhuri also has impressive concert and lecture tours all over the world to his credit. In the West he became widely known as a protagonist of Maharishi Gandharva Veda, an initiative for the promotion of North Indian raga music with a questionable ideology, based on the teachings of late guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

A set of 8 CDs of Debu Chaudhuri with specific ragas suitable for all hours of the day is available at

5. Tabla-Sangat with Ashis Paul
- Essay by Yogendra -

It is as if someone had switched on a light. The meditative alap has unfolded smoothly, and I have just played the typical upbeat phrase, mukhra, to start the gatkari, the play with theme and variation in the slow 16-beat cycle teental - when the first stroke of the tabla sounds with bell-like clarity and warm round bass in perfect time on the first beat of the cycle. My eye briefly meets my accompanist Ashis Paul, and I see an incredibly radiant smile on his face that sends a wave of joy through my heart. Unvoluntarily a wide grin crosses my cheeks, while Ashis establishes the tala with a tasteful extended solo and I keep the melodic theme and embellish it with some relaxed ornaments. I have been giving raga concerts for 25 years with all kinds of tabla accompanists, but today something is different: I feel carried like never before and can simply enjoy the playing together.

Ashis Paul, aged 36, is still relatively unknown, but performs regularly with top artists of his generation in India as well as in Europe, the US, Japan and South Africa. His biggest strength is probably the sensitive accompaniment of plucked string instruments like sitar or sarod. Just like his teacher Anindo Chatterjee he follows each melodic movement attentively, moulds the basic theka-rhythm fittingly, responds with intelligence and a great sense of style in his solos, and enriches the music with his own ideas, which I can again pick up and elaborate further. Never does he push himself to the front or become dominant. An accompanist like him is all a melody soloist can wish for - always alert, always supportive, and always with a joyful sparkle in his eyes.

The wonderful harmony between Ashis and me should be credited to Partha Chatterjee as well, my friend and teacher from Calcutta, in whose house I had first met Ashis. Partha has not only formed my understanding of raga music to a great deal, he has also taught Ashis the art of accompaniment for many years. This art is known as sangat and has to do with a thorough knowledge of as many typical melodic movements as possible and their proper accompaniment on tabla. But good sangat also requires the ability to anticipate the next movement, to come up with new ideas spontaneously, to be open for surprises, and to maintain a sense of balance and proportion throughout the whole performance. It does not just need specific knowledge and skills, it needs certain a state of mind as well. When sangat really works, it generates an open, lively and inspiring dialogue that can have an overwhelmingly blissful effect on the musicians. And a receptive audience might well be able to share that intense delight. This is what raga music is all about, after all: ananda - bliss.

Ashis Paul's website:
A live video recording of a performance with Yogendra and Ashis Paul, cut into six clips, is available on YouTube - here is an overview of the clips:

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