Newsletter March 2011

1. Yaman-Kalyan by Nikhil Banerjee
- New in our Assortment -

January, 25 years ago, the great sitarist Nikhil Banerjee passed away at the age of 54. The unique balance of his performances, simultaneously meditative, lyrical and virtuoso, already brought him worldwide recognition in his lifetime. In the years after his premature death, many live recordings of his concerts were released and secured him a permanent place amongst the true greats of the North Indian raga music tradition. Having been a student of Allauddin Khan and Ali Akbar Khan, Nikhil Banerjee is usually considered to belong to the Maihar gharana, with its rhythmic intricacies and its Dhrupad-based meditative approach. However, he was also greatly inspired by vocalist Amir Khan. While Vilayat Khan was the first to adapt the vocal techniques of khyal singing to the sitar, Nikhil Banerjee followed on and integrated them into his Maihar style. Further important elements of his style were the romantic vein of his native Bengal and the essentially spiritual understanding of his music. Nikhil Banerjee once expressed it thus: "My approach to music is very deep. I do not compromise. Indian music is based on spiritualism and was practiced and learned to know the Supreme Truth. A musician must lift up the souls of the listeners and take them towards Space."

To the surprise and delight of Nikhil Banerjee fans, the English label Navras has now released another live recording of Nikhil Banerjee. The title "Pratibha" translates as "creative genius", and it is a rendering of Raga Yaman-Kalyan at Musée Guimet in Paris in 1983. The tabla accompanist is Anindo Chatterjee, Nikhil Banerjee's regular partner in the years before his death and considered to be one of India's greatest living tabla players today. Yaman-Kalyan is a very popular evening raga with a mood of peace, devotion and joy. The raga is said to have a very harmonizing and integrating effect. Although it is very complex and offers a wide variety of possible interpretations, Yaman-Kalyan is therefore often taught as the first raga to beginners in Indian music.
"Pratibha" is now available from India Instruments for 15, - Euros (plus shipping) with order number NRCD 225.

Here is an overview of all available CDs by Nikhil Banerjee


2. Khyal, Qawwali and Fusion from Navras
- New in our Assortment -

  • DVD Kishori Amonkar (Khyal-Gesang): Sampradaya - Carrying Forward a Tradition
    The charismatic khyal singer Kishori Amonkar, currently perhaps the most famous and important female classical Indian singer, can now be experienced live on DVD. The deeply spiritual diva is regarded as a rebel and avant-gardist in the classical Indian tradition and her creative genius has evolved a very unique expressive style of her own, beyond the boundaries of traditional gharanas. Her concert at London's Kensington Town Hall in 2000 has been released on two DVDs with the title "Sampradaya - Carrying Forward a Tradition". In that performance Kishori Amonkar was accompanied by Purushottam Walawalkar (harmonium), Balkrishna Iyer (tabla), Milind Raikar (violin) and Vidya Bhagwat (vocal support & tanpura). The audio recording had already been published by Navras in 2002 as a double CD under the same title. It includes an extensive rendering of the morning raga Alhaiya Bilawal, a shorter version of the morning raga Jeevanpuri (better known as Jounpuri), and a bhajan in the popular raga Bhairavi.
    - Vol. 1 NRDVD016 Raga Bilawal Alhaiya, 89 min, 29. - Euros
    - Vol. 2 NRDVD017 Raga Bhairavi Bhajan & Jeevanpuri, 94 min, 29. - Euros
    The double-CD Sampradaya and numerous other audio recordings of Kishori Amonkar and many other great Khyal singer are available here.
  • Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (Qawwali-Gesang) & Michael Brook: Kinna Sohna (How Beautiful)
    In 2007, a tribute concert took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London to commemorate the 10th death anniversary of legendary qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The first part of the concert was performed by Nusrat's nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, considered the legitimate heir of his uncle, and his group with traditional Qawwali. It has been published last year under the title "Remembering Nusrat". "Kinna Sohna (How Beautiful)" is the second part of the tribute concert and features the joint performance of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Michael Brook. In 1990 Brook had recorded a fusion album with Nusrat, which has long reached cult status among fans. Especially the title song Mustt Mustt became famous and appeared in countless remixes and cover versions again and again. One of 10 tracks on this CD is an interpretation of Mustt Mustt, of course. Michael Brook also worked successfully with Brian Ferry, The Pogues and Youssou N'Dour, and wrote the music for Al Gore's climate film "An Inconvenient Truth." The booklet includes the complete texts of all songs with English translation.
    - NRCD 5512, 15,- Euro
    The previous album "Remembering Nusrat" and many more Qawwali CDs are available here
  • Bickram Ghosh: Electro Classical
    Tabla virtuoso Bickram Ghosh, son of tabla veteran maestro Shankar Ghosh, is known not only as a classical accompanist of stars like Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. He also made an outstanding name as an innovative fusion musician in recent years. In his own project Rhythmscape, he developed an interesting combination of Indian music with jazz and electronica. His new album "Electro Classical" pushes the idea of electrification of Indian music another step ahead. Without abandoning the vibrant percussive energy of his earlier works, Bickram Ghosh now uses electronic sounds or electronically modified traditional Indian instruments almost exclusively, thus creating a whole new fascinating new-age sound for Indian music. - NRCD 6008, 15,- Euro Bickram Ghosh's previous album "Rhythmscape" and many other fusion CDs are available here.

All prices plus shipping costs. Other CDs, DVDs and other media on Indian music in our exhaustive online catalog.


3. Colouring the Mind - Raga CD by Yogendra
- New in our Assortment -

Since the 1980s, Yogendra, founder of India Instruments, has been studying the Northern Indian raga music with a focus on sitar, mainly with renowned masters Ali Akbar Khan and Partha Chatterjee. For over 20 years, he has been giving classical Indian raga concerts himself. Now he has finally published his first album of raga music, titled "Colouring the Mind". Yogendra's approach is not about competing with the great masters of Indian tradition, past and present. His focus is on the essence of ragas as tools for "colouring of the mind". Tonal beauty, emotion and spontaneity are of greater importance than technical virtuosity or complicated rhythmic formulas. Yogendra is accompanied on tabla by Ashis Paul, a pupil of Anindo Chatterjee from Calcutta and a very fine, sensitive musician in his own right.

"Colouring the Mind" presents three popular evening ragas with the subtitle "Ragas for Peace, Love & Joy". The beginning is the majestic and peaceful raga Bageshri with unmetered introduction (alap), a theme with variations (gat) in slow 16-beat rhythm tintal, a gat in fast tintal and a fast finale (jhala) - time is about 35 minutes. The following piece is the romantic raga Kirwani with alap, gat in slow syncopated 16-beat rhythm sitarkhani and gat and jhala in fast tintal - time about 19 minutes. The album is rounded off with a playful interpretation of raga Bhoopali with alap and gat in the lilting 6-beat rhythm of dadra - time about 10 minutes.

The album was recorded last October by Daniel Fuchs, well-known amongst Indian music connoisseurs as a fine sound engineer, especially because of his productions with artists like Kushal Das, Tejendra Majumdar, Ronu Mazumdar and Purbayan Chatterjee on his own label Peshkar in the 1990s. The first 1.5 minutes of each track can be heard as a free stream at - there you can also download the complete album. As a CD the album is exclusively available from India Instruments or directly from Yogendra for 15. - Euros (plus shipping). All orders reaching us until March 31st get a reduced subscription price of 12. - Euros (plus shipping).

Video clips of Yogendra and Ashis Paul together are available at

4. Intensive Workshops and E-Learning
- Scene Info -

The next weeks and months offer some very interesting opportunities of further education for all friends of music and dance from India.

Intensive workshops for sitar players will be conducted by two renowned masters. From April 1st until 5th, Kushal Das will be teaching in Boppard (near Koblenz / Rhine valley). And from May 4th until 8th, Partha Chatterjee (close disciple of Nikhil Banerjee - see above) will be teaching in Bad Homburg (near Frankfurt / Main). Tabla players can learn from Shankar Ghosh from April 1st until 5th - parallel to Kushal Das's sitar workshop in Boppard. Last but not least Kathak dancer Ioanna Srinivasan offers several workshops for different skill levels at her Academy of Kathak Dance in Berlin from March 18th until 27th. Please check our German workshop page for more detailed information.

There is also an opportunity for all those who prefer learning Indian music at home in front of their computer. Ludwig Pesch's e-learning course "The Music of South India" will be running again from April to June. It is held in English and includes practical exercises as well as personal interaction and support in Dutch and German. Read more at


5. Music Therapy with Ragas (2) - Malkauns
- by Thomas Meisenheimer -

The pentatonic midnight raga Malkauns is like a declaration of love at night. It is often called Malkosh - derived from the word "Koushika" that can be translated as "passion". The "sound formula" consists of the tonic (Sa), minor third (komal Ga), fourth (Ma), minor sixth (komal Dha) and minor seventh (komal Ni). In the South Indian Carnatic music, the raga using this scale is called Hindolam. In Ragamala miniature painting, Malkauns is often represented as a nobleman enjoying intoxicating betel nut, surrounded by servants and sometimes holding a stringed instrument in one hand. Sometimes Malkauns is also shown as a meditating yogi or a passionate lover.

The absence of the fifth and the second gives the raga a very reflective and contemplative character. For me komal Ga expresses the passion. The fourth Ma is the calming influence, slightly intoxicating, contemplative. Komal Dha evokes the darkness, the mystique of the night, and Komal Ni is the sensual. The raga creates an inner attitude of humbleness and opens the door of my heart again and again. Malkauns is like a prayer of thanks, powerful and yet peaceful in itself. When I hear this raga, all thoughts easily come to rest. Malkauns works very relaxing and trance-inducing for me. I appreciate this balancing and harmonizing effect especially after a busy day. I perceive Malkauns as something powerful, respectful and dignified. It also reflects the dedication and unconditional love towards a master. This aspect is very beautifully demonstrated in the old Indian film 'Baiju Bawra': When the singer Baiju returns to his music master Swami Haridas after a long separation, raga Malkauns is heard, performed by legendary playback singer Mohamed Rafi

Thomas Meisenheimer has been studying Indian ragas, their effects and their use as a therapeutic agent in music therapy for over 20 years. In the series "Music Therapy with Ragas" he shares his personal experiences - not as an eternal truth, but as an inspiration for your own explorations.

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