Newsletter March / April 2016

1. P. & Brothers Maestro – Top Harmonium with Triple Reeds
2. Tunable Kanjira & Wooden Ghatam – Innovative Percussion
3. Tabla Hook – Helpful Tool for Strap Adjustment
4. Sitar-Fusion – CDs by Klaus Falschlunger, Prem Joshua & Pulsar Trio
5. Kirtan (9) – Kirtan Rock Stars Kula Shaker
6. Yoga of Sound (2/4) - Nada Trataka with Tanpura
7. Workshops - April to Juni
8. Concerts - April & May


1. P. & Brothers Maestro – Top Harmonium with Triple Reeds
- New in our Assortment -

Our new harmonium model Maestro T 42-5 by P. & Brothers is perfect for P. & Brother Maestro skilled musicians looking for a high quality instrument with rich beautiful sound, long sustain, lots of extras and great versatility. It is an excellent choice for professional recordings as well as for concerts. It gives you considerably more options in terms of sound than our premium harmoniums. At the same time it is lighter, cheaper and more sturdy than our foldable scale-changer harmoniums. And with a padded bag it is also great for travelling.

Each note has three reeds in different octaves. Those three reeds can be played separately or in any combination, giving you lots of different possibilities of mxing your sound. An octave coupler can be activated, connecting any pressed key automatically to the note an octave lower. That way you can play up to six reeds with just one key – giving you a particularly powerful, rich, warm and carrying sound. However, the more reeds are played, the more air needs to be supplied. That is easy in this model due to the large volume of the multifold bellows. The perfect balance between bellows and springs gives the P. & Brothers Maestro a wonderful long sustain. The bellows, which open to the side, can be moved actively in both directions. Thus you can adjust air supply exactly to your musical requirements. 

The P. & Brothers Maestro is now available from us at 890.- Euros (plus 19.90 Euros shipping within Europe). Pictures and further infos here.

An overview of our harmonium models is here.

2. Tunable Kanjira & Wooden Ghatam – Innovative Percussion
- New in our Assortment -

Latest addition to our assortment are innovative percussion instruments made by Majid Karami. For now we limit our offer to two new versions of traditional instruments.

Ta Udu Wooden GhatamThe Ta-Udu is inspired by traditional clay instruments like ghatam or udu, but is made completely of wood. It can be played on all parts of its body and emits sharp sounds reminiscent of its clay ancestors in most places. Strokes onto the hole in its side give a powerful bass. Its most special feature is the thin bottom – its sound is similar to that of a tight drum skin. In that way the Ta-Udu combines characteristic sounds from different instruments in a single compact and sturdy new instrument. It is made of a light African wood called Abachi (or Ayous).

India Instruments offers the Ta-Udu at 400.- Euros (plus 19.90 Euros shipping cost within Europe). Pictures and further info here.

Info on traditional ghatams here.
Overview of our percussion assortment. 


Ta-Udu played by David Kuckhermann.

Traditionally the small South Indian frame drum kanjeera is tuned by applying Tunable Kanjiraa bit of water to the skin before playing. The simplicity of this technique is compelling, but it also has serious practical disadvantages: The humidity of the skin needs to be readjusted time and again, and it is hardly possible to tune to an exact pitch and maintain it throughout a performance. Majid Karami's kanjeera solves these problems with a sophisticated system of separate inner and outer frame rings and elevating screws. That system makes it possible to raise or lower the inner frame ring in relation to the outer and thus adjust the skin tension very precisely according to requirements. Standard setup is a goat skin head. Alternatively a fish skin head is available on request.

India Instruments offers the tunable kanjeera at 180.- Euros (plus 19.90 Euros shipping cost within Europe). Pictures and further info here.
Info on traditionel kanjeeras here.

Solo on traditionel kanjeera by Guruprasanna.

Majid Karami is an innovative percussionist, sound artist and instrument maker based in Cologne. He has been working on the improvement of traditional instruments and the design of new instruments for several decades. In the process he cooperated with renowned percussionists like Hakim Ludin, Ramesh Shotham or Rhani Krija. All his instruments are individually hand-made and are of highest professional quality.

3. Tabla Hook – Helpful Tool for Strap Adjustment
- New in Our Assortment -

Sometimes it's the small things that make life so much easier. E.g. our tuning aid narka for sitar players. And for tabla players one such thing is our new tabla hook!

Tabla HookThe strap of any tabla gives way in course of time. That brings down the basic tension, makes the pitch sag, and the sound loses its beauty. In the beginning it is possible to compensate by pushing the tuning wedges / gattas further down. But sooner or later it becomes necessary to pull additional strands of strap over the gattas. And when that doesn't help any more, the whole strap needs to be retightened.

Working the strap with bare hands is a very difficult and often painful job, because the strap is very stiff and tenacious and is under high tension. It is difficult to move it and it often digs into the fingers. However, our tabla hook makes it easy to grab and pull the strap with utmost precision. Pulling still requires a lot of force, of course, but the round handle distributes the pressure evenly to all fingers instead of creating painful pressure on a single joint. That way you can use your full force without cutting into your own flesh. Working more comfortably also enables you to control the pulling power more exactly and that way tighten the strap more evenly – an essential requirement for stable tuning and good sound

India Instruments offers the tabla hook at 19.- Euros (plus 3.90 Euros shipping cost within Europe). Pictures and further info here.
An overview of other tabla accessories is here.

4. Sitar-Fusion – CDs by Klaus Falschlunger, Prem Joshua & Pulsar Trio
- Reviews by Yogendra -

In 2014 this newsletter told the story of sitar-fusion from Germanistan by means of typical bands and artists. Three of them have recently published exciting new CDs. Let's listen to the extremely different and versatile new works of Klaus Falschlunger, Pulsar Trio und Prem Joshua & Chintan...

The bravest and most unusual album has been made by Austrian sitarist KlausSitar Diaries Falschlunger. His Sitar Diaries presents 12 original compositions, which have been played exclusively on sitar (with only a little bit of voice added here and there). However, it's not just a sitar solo, but most of the time two or more sitar recordings in several layered tracks.

Sometimes the sitar is electronically distorted, sometimes played like a percussion instrument or with other unusual techniques. Probably nobody else has ever done such experiments with such tenacity. Every now and then they lead to new, surprising sound experiences. However, the self-imposed restriction to one instrument and one artist also reveals the limitations of performer, composer and instrument. The musical ideas are varied, but often too narrow to carry a whole piece. To compensate that weakness they are filled up with improvisations over and over. But these improvisations show that Klaus Falschlunger's sitarist skills are solid but not outstanding enough for brilliant improvisation. And in spite of all experiments the sitar still lacks warmth and depth and its permanently buzzing sharp overtones lose their enchanting potential when they are left all by themselves.

Luckily the album is saved by including another CD: Sitar Diaries Remixed. Here we get seven tracks from Sitar Diaries remixed by nine different artists. Most often they have eliminated all filling material and kept only a few notes or melodic motives from the original compositions. These distilled little gems have been wrapped in fat bass, juicy grooves and all kinds of oddities from today's digital magic music kits. And these elaborate sound contexts make the sitar sound shine in its full beauty. The result is a very diverse and fascinating spectrum, comprising everything from 'rather not' to 'really great'. A true genius might be able to create great art all by himself, but most of the time we humans do better combining our various talents to create something beautiful together.

Samples from Sitar Diaries / Sitar Diaries Remixed at Klaus Falschlunger's Website.

A master of successful cooperations is Prem Joshua, sitarist, saxophonist, bansuri player, singer and composer. Throughout his long career he has often managed to play with great musicians and create music of captivating beauty together with them. His latest record Kashi is a coproduction with his long time partner Chintan Relenberg, keyboarder, percussionist and master of digital sounds. On Kashi they have dressed Indian mantras and shlokas in contemporary vibes and that way set themselves apart from traditional Indian mantra recordings. Like that they intend to make their own inner India audible. An important support in this venture is Hamsika Iyer with Indian solo vocals.

KashiKashi is produced perfectly, with round and rich sound, and covers a wide variety of different genres from Indian to reggae. Most pieces remain true to the unique style that Prem Joshua has created and refined over the past decades – very groovy and agreeable, yet often with complex uneven rhythms and always with sophisticated and varied arrangements and carefully composed form. That way the music can be used in the background, for conscious listening and for dancing in equal measure. However, some tracks seem a bit exerted and uninspired and make it difficult to find a link between text and music. On the other hand there are some pieces that lean towards Indian traditions but use instrumentation and arrangements that shed new light on the tradition and reveal a fresh and unexpected wideness. Those are the moments in which the India within becomes truely tangible.

Samples from Kashi at Prem Joshua's website.

The most coherent new sitar-fusion CD comes from Pulsar Trio. After their debut with Erpelparka Suite in 2012 and after winning the Creole competition in 2015, the band now presents the second album called Cäthes Traum (Cäthe's Dream). Pulsar Trio has taken four years for it, in which the band has been performing continuously and the music has further developed and ripened organically. The main new feature is sitarist Matyas Wolter playing surbahar as well, a kind of bass sitar, which enables him to switch to the role of accompanying double bass player instead of being soloist all the time. The new instrument has widened the range of sounds as well as the musical possibilities considerably. It frees the band from some of the India stereotypes that are still often associated with sitar sounds nearly 50 years after Woodstock.

Song titles and texts of Pulsar Trio refrain from Indian associations as well most Pulsar Trioof the time. Instead they refer to their own roots, to everyday events, or use the English translation of a quote from classical German poet Friedrich Schiller. Except of a few keyboard parts, Pulsar Trio remains true to its acoustic path on Cäthes Traum. We pretty much hear the same music that the band presents in live concerts: tight and intense performance of sitar, piano and drums, sophisticated and impulsive grooves, lively dialogues, earworm melodies, instrumental virtuosity, dynamic suspense, extended improvisations and sometimes a really quiet and peaceful track for deep relaxation. A truely marvellous album that combines high artistic ambitions easily with great entertainment value.

Broklegs Fall on the band's website.
Seven Horses and a Hornet.

5. Kirtan (9) – Kirtan Rock Stars Kula Shaker
- Series by Atul Krishna -

Kirtan has become ever more popular around the world in the past two decades - and so have the Indian instruments used to accompany it. Atul Krishna, himself an accomplished kirtan percussionist, gives background info on history, styles, musicians and instruments of kirtan in an open series.  

In a previous article I described how KD (short for Krishna Das) is also known as the new rockstar in the world of Yoga and Kirtan. There is no doubt that he totally deserves this „title“, as he is the most successful Kirtan-singer there is. I only feel that his style of music does not necessarily match the „rock“ aspect. So I’d like to show you how Kirtan has set it’s mark in the Rock-world.

Kula ShakerGrowing up in the 90’s , there can only be one band that qualifies for this genre: Kula Shaker. They have been the first ones to bring a Sanskrit-song („Govinda“) in to the UK top-10 charts ever!

In order to understand why they’ve chosen this style of music, we should dive into the history of their lead-singer: Crispian Mills. Mills has played in several UK-based bands, before becoming the main vocalist for Kula Shaker. He was heavily influenced by the indian culture, due to a backpacking trip in India in the 90’s.
This experience made him believe that his band, formerly psychedelic rock, should go into a more spiritual and mystical direction, one more in line with his personal interest in Gaudiya Vaishnavism (an ancient lineage dedicated to the Hindu God, Lord Vishnu). The band name was also derived from a Vaishnava sage. The former ruler of Kerala, King Kulashekara (800 A.D.).

The decision of the band going on a more mystical path, helped the band to new heights, resulting in several top 10 songs, including „Tattva“, „Govinda“ & „Sound of Drums.“ Their debut album „K“ reached no.1 on the UK Album charts. In addition, several songs featured indian instruments, such as the Sitar, Tanpura and Tabla. Each album concludes at least one song in Sanskrit and/or mantra-like lyrics.

After a couple of breaks and Mills’ debut as film director, the band has been back on tour Kula Shaker Album K 2.0presenting their new album
called: „K 2.0“. This alum shows the band again in its full glory. Smooth Indian vibes, raw rock guitar, psychedelic tunes and thundering beats. All the ingredients for a lively album.

I had the privilege to be able to see them live in Berlin this February. The concert had been sold out weeks before and just like the last time I saw them (2008), the band drew many Berliners that could sing (sometimes scream) all the songs along at the top of their lungs. It has been admiring to see how much love and thought has been put into the details of their performance.

Before the band sets foot on stage, incense will have been lit. For this concert, the goddess of love „Sri Radhe“ had been called upon, simultaneously displaying their cover album in which she has been portrayed. There had been no    sign of the band not having played for almost 6 years, as all songs were perfectly played and even all „tricks“ looked so elegant, that I could swear they’ve been doing the same thing for the last 20 years.

Besides the fact that Mills is a natural entertainer, their initial style has indeed not changed. Kula Shaker is still that same psychedelic indie rock band that puts you on a mystical journey. This indeed is their trademark.

New Album
Govinda Live
Band Homepage

6. Yoga of Sound (2/4) - Nada Trataka with Tanpura
Practice Hints by Carmen Mager, Barbara Irmer & Frank Beese -

Working with sound as a yoga practice is relatively unknown in these parts. Carmen Mager and Barbara Irmer are authors of the book Nada Yoga – Towards the Inner Sound and teach nada yoga at the European College of Yoga and Therapy,  together with Frank Beese. In this series, they give an introduction to practicing nada yoga and show how to use Indian instruments to support it.

TanpuraNada yoga can be practiced independent of any instruments. Your own voice is completely sufficient. However, instruments can touch an additional emotional aspect and deepen the experience. To start with we would like to present the accompaniment of nada yoga practice with the tanpura. The tanpura is an embodiment of the fundamental principles of Indian classical music. Its strings produce an oscillating sound, which seems to flow through countless shades of microtones with its multitude of harmonics. In Indian classical music, the sound of the tanpura is the indispensable background from which the music emanates and into which it returns again. In that sense it symbolises nada brahman, the eternal, unalterable, absolute in music. The unique richness in harmonics of the tanpura's sound is produced by the rounded shape of the bridge surface, supported by a thin thread in between the string and the bridge. The thread creates a little distance between the string and the bridge, and that way makes the vibrating string bounce slightly against the bridge. The strings are plucked one after another in such a way that their sound merges and forms a circling continuum. The overtones merge as well. The listener gets the impression that the sound moves through space and that various melodies of overtones appear in it.

The tanpura is a long necked lute, usually has 4 strings and has no fingerboard or Tanpurafrets. Some tanpuras have 5 or 6 strings. The resonator is most often a dried pumpkin. Tuning a tanpura is an art in itself. Pure tuning of the strings is crucial. The most common tuning is: fifth, octave, octave and tonic (e.g. g - c´- c´- c). When the tanpura has more strings there are more possibilities of varying the tuning. Start by tuning the two middle strings to the octave of the tonic when you set up a tanpura. The tonic is called Sa in Indian music (e.g. c'). Once they are in unison, you can proceed to the 4th string and tune it to the tonic (c in this case), an octave lower than the 2nd and 3rd strings. Finally tune the 1st string to the fifth in between, which is called Pa in the Indian scale (g).

TanpuraThe tanpura sound is the root of Indian music. All melodies relate to the tonic continuously played by the tanpura, from simple chanting of OM or a mantra to the most complex ragas.  The music emanates from the tension between melody and tonic. The tanpura sounds from the very beginning, and the musicians tune in to its sound. The interplay of harmonics is a source of inspiration for the soloist. The tanpura plays all through the whole piece and leads into silence when the music finally fades away. Plucking the strings happens evenly and sensitively in a continuous cycle in free rhythm and speed.

In nada yoga the sound of the tanpura becomes an object of meditation. The musical concentration technique nada trataka is one of the basic exercises in nada yoga and is practiced by Indian singers and instrumentalists alike. It does not require any virtuosity. It's about merging with the sound in a most natural and easy way. The perfect accompaniment for nada trataka is a tanpura. Alternatively the sound of a harmonium or shrutibox can be used as well. The tonic can be chosen freely, according to voice or instrument. E.g., as already mentioned, you could tune your tanpura to g - c´- c´- c.


Take an upright and relaxed sitting position in which you can stay for some time and close your eyes. Sense the weight of your body and its orientation in space.
- Direct your awareness to the air around you.
- Start playing the tanpura and listen to its sound with relaxed ears.

- Start chanting the OM to the tonic of the tanpura and listen to the sound of your voice (about 2 min.).

- Stop the chanting and listen to the sound of the tanpura. Notice all sounds you can hear in the room.

- Start chanting again and relax into it.

- Finish the chanting and listen to the sound of the tanpura. Feel it with the whole surface of your skin. Take a bath in the whirling sounds.

- Softly hum an M sound on the tonic.

- Listen to the sound of the tanpura in the space of your heart.

- Let the tanpura sound fade away. Follow the sounds until they die away. Listen to the reverberations in the space of your heart.

- Finish nada trataka by resting on your back.


Nada trataka strengthens the ability to concentrate and frees the mind from distractions.
It trains the receptivity for sounds in their subtle aspects. Sound becomes perceivable in its relation to body and space. That creates a feeling of wideness and connection with the origin of sound. Nada trataka has a cleansing and clearing aspect for the mind.

Tanpura Demonstration.
Kaushiki Chakraborty explains the role of the tanpura in classical Indian khyal singing.
Tanpura sound with tonic C for practice of nada trataka.


7. Workshops - April to Juni
- Scene Info -

Workshops are a great opportunity of getting fresh inspiration for the study and practice of Indian instruments, Indian music and Indian dance. We support that! Therefore we publish an overview of current workshops regularly. Details of all workshops are available in our website's network section on the workshop page.

16.04. - 17.04. E - MADRID: Dhrupad Singing with the Gundecha Brothers
18.04. - 24.04. SEHLENDORF: Dhrupad with the Gundecha-Brothers
29.04. - 01.05. HORUMERSIEL: Harmonium Advanced Seminar with Devadas Mark Janku
05.05. - 08.05. OPFENBACH: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Gyanroopa Dickbertel
10.05. - 16.05. BAD HOMBURG: Master Class Sitar with Partha Chatterjee
13.05. - 16.05. GERODE: Nada Yoga - The Healing Power of Sound with Barbara Irmer, Carmen Mager, Frank Beese
21.05. - 22.05. MOERS: Nada Yoga with Sundaram
29.05. BERLIN: Harmoniumworkshop for Beginners with Reina Berger
03.06. - 05.06. WITZENHAUSEN: Start of Year long Training Mantra, Voice & Harmonium with Sundaram
08.06. - 14.06. F - ST. CHRISTOPHE EN OISANS (GRENOBLE): Dhrupad Singing in the Alps with the Gundecha Brothers
10.06. - 12.06. HEMMOOR: Sitar - Step by Step with Yogendra
24.06. - 26.06. WEMMETSWEILER: Raga & Tala Intensive Kirwani with Yogendra
24.06. - 26.06. OBERLAHR: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Devadas Mark Janku

8. Concerts - April & May
- Scene Info -

Check our concert calender for more detailed information, venues, times and additional dates in 2016!.

16.04. CH - LUZERN: Ken Zuckerman – Sarod
16.04. LANGENZENN: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
16.04. BAD NAUHEIM: Sundaram & Friends - Kirtan
16.04. STUTTGART: Subroto Roy Chowdhury - Sitar
17.04. STUTTGART: Subroto Roy Chowdhury - Sitar
17.04. SEESHAUPT: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
20.04. MUNICH: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
22.04. OSTFILDERN-NELLINGEN: David Trasoff - Sarod
22.04. LENNGRIESS: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
23.04. ENGEN: David Trasoff – Sarod
23.04. AACHEN: Sundaram & Friends - Kirtan
23.04. STUTTGART: Nawab Khan - Santoor, Shahid - Sarangi & Imran Khan - Vocal
23.04. NUREMBERG: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
23.04. BERLIN: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
24.04. STUTTGART: Nawab Khan - Santoor, Shahid - Sarangi & Imran Khan - Vocal
24.04. LUBECK: Rhitom Sarkar - Slide-Guitar
24.04. DRESDEN: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
24.04. PL - GDANSK: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
26.04. KONSTANZ: David Trasoff - Sarod
27.04. GOTTINGEN: Yogendra - Sitar
29.04. BRAUNSCHWEIG: Yogendra - Sitar
30.04. DORNBURG (bei Limburg): Sundaram & Friends - Kirtan
30.04. STUTTGART: Monalisa Ghosh - Odissi Dance
30.04. BERLIN: Carnatic Comfort Zone
30.04. COLOGNE: Mitali Bhawmik & Joydeepta Bandyopadhyay - Vocal
01.05. COLOGNE: Mitali Bhawmik & Joydeepta Bandyopadhyay – Vocal
01.05. BIEBERTAL (bei Gießen): Sundaram & Friends - Kirtan
01.05. FRANKFURT: Sundaram & Friends - Kirtan
01.05. PADERBORN: Yogendra - Sitar
01.05. REGENSBURG: Abhay Rustum Sopori - Santur
03.05. BADEN-BADEN: Abhay Rustum Sopori - Santur
04.05. COLOGNE: Jarry Singla & Eastern Flowers
04.05. ESSLINGEN: Partho Sarothy - Sarod
04.05. STUTTGART: Rhitom Sarkar - Slide-Gitarre
05.05. STUTTGART: Rhitom Sarkar - Slide-Gitarre
05.05. COLOGNE: Bombay Jayashri - Carnatic Vocal
05. - 08.05. BAD MEINBERG: Yoga Vidya Music Festival
10.05. ERFURT: Supriyo Dutta - Vocal
11.05. FRANKFURT/M.: Supriyo Dutta – Vocal
11.05. SIEGBURG: Jarry Singla & Eastern Flowers
13.05. CH - SCHAFFHAUSEN / NEUNKIRCH: Kushal Das - Sitar
14.05. KONSTANZ: Kushal Das – Sitar
15.05. ENGEN: Kushal Das - Sitar
15.05. WOLFENBUTTEL: Rhitom Sarkar - Slide-Gitarre, Stephanie Bosch - Bansuri
20.05. OSTFILDERN-NELLINGEN: Govinda Schlegel - Sarod
21.05. MOERS: Sundaram & Friends - Kirtan
21.05. CH - ERLACH: Kushal Das - Sitar
22.05. CH - GENEVE / PRESINGE: Kushal Das - Sitar
23.05. CH - BERN: Kushal Das - Sitar
27.05. FRANKFURT/M.: Kushal Das - Sitar
27.05. NL - DEN HAAG: Hariprasad Chaurasia - Bansuri
28.05. SAARBRUCKEN: Kushal Das - Sitar
04.06. KARLSRUHE: Shakir Khan - Sitar, Surbahar
04.06. LEIPZIG: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar


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