Newsletter March / April 2017

1. New CD by Indigo Masala - Ocean
2. Ramesh Mishra - Benares-Sarangi
3. The Art Of Practice (1/4) – Duration 
4. How to Make (Indian) Music? (6) - Listening
5. Workshops – April to June
6. Concerts - April to June

1. New CD by Indigo Masala – Ocean
- New in our Assortment -

Actually, India Instruments does not take any new CDs into the assortment anymore – we just sell off the existing stock. But when someone from our team releases a record, we make an exception...

Indigo Masala is the trio in which our founder and co-owner Yogendra has been playing since 2005. It's a pioneer of world music played exclusively on acoustic instruments and featuring the sitar as a special trademark. Today bands like Pulsar Trio and Indian Air follow in a similar vein. The last Indigo Masala CD, however, has been published six years back. Since then, the band had been so busy with touring and other projects that there was no energy left for a new record. But a tour break in 2016 triggered fresh ideas and resulted in a fine collection of exciting new pieces. They were recorded in a cosy little studio on the outskirts of Berlin. Just now the CD has come in from the plant - and is available from India Instruments even before the official release!

Ocean is the title of the new work: a homage to a vast and miraculous world, that has inspired the curiosity and exploratory urge of mankind as well as unrestrained exploitation - and which hitherto still defies all domination attempts. In ten atmospherically dense pieces, one experiences the ocean's overwhelming vitality, meets its fascinating and often endangered creatures, feels its importance for the earth's climate and its interplay with the powerful forces of the earth's core and the cosmic heavenly bodies. The music comes almost without lyrics. Inner images are stirred just by the imaginative and subtly touching qualities of the compositions. These inner images are supported by the artistically designed booklet. Each song is illustrated by a little piece of art created especially for the CD.

While tabla and udu dominated Indigo Masala's percussion in earlier recordings, more drums and cymbals are used now. This way, the flowing grooves become more colourful and get a fresh jazzy touch. The chromatic button accordion bajan with its enormous range provides refined harmonies and iridescent drone flows with an almost orchestral fullness,. And the sitar invites to dive into other spheres with magic melodies. Thanks to the relaxed atmosphere of the recording sessions, Ocean also brings across a live feeling, with which the band's exuberant joy of playing can be felt at any time. Thus, the unique, pulsating, sensual and highly virtuoso creations of Indigo Masala become a most delightful musical pleasure.

Indigo Masalas Ocean is now available @ 15 € from India Instruments – more details here.
Teaser with the title song Ocean on YouTube.

2. Ramesh Mishra – Benares Sarangi
- Obituary by Yogendra -

The sound of the bowed string instrument sarangi has an incomparable colour and its possibilities of articulation are probably the closest to those of the human voice of all Indian instruments. However, its handling and playing technique are extremely demanding and its social status in India is rather low. Outstanding sarang performers are therefore a real rarity today and the death of a sarang master is a particularly heavy loss for the classical Indian music tradition as a whole. Therefore, a wave of shock went through the classical Indian music community when Ramesh Mishra died in his home in New York on 13 March, after long severe cancer.
RameshRamesh Mishra was born in Calcutta and was the son of sarangi player Ramnath Mishra. From earliest childhood he learnt sarangi in the style of the Benares Gharana from his father. Later, he took lessons from the brothers Hanuman Prasad Mishra and Gopal Mishra, also representatives of the Benares Gharana. Eventually he became a student of legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar. It may be due to this influence that Ramesh Mishra not only became an outstanding master of the traditional art of sarangi accompaniment, but also made a career as an international soloist and participated in numerous crossover projects. As early as 1959 he was sent to a first foreign tour to Pakistan by Jawaharlal Nehru, then Prime Minister of India. Since then, he has performed worldwide with countless greats of Indian classical music.

Colleagues especially appreciated Ramesh Mishra's unique tone, his ability to create a special atmosphere with just a few melodic lines, and his sensitive and friendly nature. He accompanied, among many others, the vocalists Girija Devi, Ajoy Chakrabarty, Rashid Khan and Sipra Bose, the tabla players Zakir Hussain, Swapan Chaudhuri, Anindo Chatterjee, Kishan Maharaj and Subhankar Banerjee, and he played with Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan and Shujaat Khan. In 2008 he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the highest cultural award in India, for his contribution to music.

After spending most of his llife in Calcutta, he settled down in New York in later years.
His US home was a popular meeting place for the local Indian music community as well as for traveling artists from India. Ramesh had a particularly close connection with Samir Chatterjee, a New York-based tabla player, and his Indian music school, Chhandayan. In the Chhandayan Center for Indian Music, the memorial ceremony took place on 19 March. Ramesh Mishra's music lives on in countless recordings.

Concert video of Ramesh Mishra with Raga Kirwani.

3. The Art of Practice (1/4) – Duration
- 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...

Anyone who has ever tried to learn a musical instrument knows that it needs practice. In the classical North Indian music tradition, there is even a special word for musical practice: riyaz. The existence of this particular word alone demonstrates the fundamental importance of practice in the learning process. Why is that so? 

In music practice, there are two different levels that complement each other. On the one hand, it is about motor skills: movement sequences must be learned anew and then automated and fine-tuned. This is obviously true for the fingers, which dance on keyboards, strings, or drum heads, but as well for the breath of flautists, or the laryngeal muscles of singers. Only when there is a certain command over this purely physical level can music arise.

The difficulties are, in principle, the same as in other motor learning processes: walking, swimming, cycling - everything requires the precise coordination of largely unconscious movement patterns. I have to try them again and again. Naturally, I often fail in these experiments at first - I fall, swallow water, get no sound out of my instrument. But when I try again (and again, and again), sooner or later there will be some little success - a few shaky steps, a few metres zigzag ride, a half-clear tone. And when I continue to try and experiment, the movements get slowly transformed from odd to familiar to fluent - safe movement in space, clearly articulated sound sequences become natural without the need for special effort. Now I've mastered a particular problem. This is the basis for a more complex problem to master - rope jumping, unicycling, playing sonatas or ragas.

Motor learning needs repetition. And repetition takes time. It is only when certain movement patterns are called up again and again, that our nervous system starts adopting by establishing new connections and reinforcing useful existing ones. The processes are grinded and are automated. It is only then that we develop the fluency which becomes the basis for making the next step. And another one. And another one. Step by step and layer by layer we develop more and more complex skills.

Besides the purely physical learning level, there is also a mental one in music. That level is not required to ride a bike straight, but it's essential to move safely through the traffic of a big city on a bike. The mental dimension of musicianship can well be compared with learning a language. I need not only be able to articulate and combine all the vowels and consonants, but I also need to know which combinations form words and how I can connect words meaningfully. In terms of music, my ear needs to learn to recognize musical patterns - melodies, rhythms, harmonies. And I have to be able to create meaningful musical patterns myself. The characteristics of different styles and traditions may differ as much from one another as Chinese from English. For example, musicians with Western classic training may not necessarily grasp what is going on in an Indian raga performance - and vice versa. Just like motor learning, the mental level needs countless repetitions for a long time, too. Perception and expression need to be sharpened and refined continuously to become clear and precise.

Duration is therefore a crucial element of successful practice. I simply need to spend an awful lot of time on it. Some people say that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve a certain mastery in any discipline. This number can certainly not be taken as an absolute measure, but it gives an impression of the dimensions we're talkig about here. A few weeks or months won't get you very far - it takes years or even decades. For all those who are into short cuts and instant success, this may sound frustrating. But all those who still believe they are unmusical may take it as an encouragement: Anybody can learn musical skills - you just have to spend a lot of time on it. Just keep going step by step and don't stop or give up your practice!

A miraculous and liberating experience in the extremely goal oriented world of today's turbocapitalism: music learning has no goal and no end. Every next step offers new discoveries, new challenges, new joys. The path is the goal. 

Unfortunately many people get lost on the way. Even though they start with a lot of enthusiasm, they eventually drop out at some point. Maybe they didn't know about three crucial factors for successful practice: regularity, intelligence and joy? I'll discuss these in the coming editions of our newsletter...

4. How to Make (Indian) Music? (6) – Listening
- Quote by Shubha Mudgal -

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

Music is meditative, but only if you want it to be. First there has to be receptivity. There has to be a willingess to listen. And there has to be a willigness to listen with an open mind. Because very often we come with preconceived notions about classical music, for example. So some may feel that it is only about meditation and nothing else. And indeed there is a prayerful quality about it. It's very profound. But at the same time it's also a cerebral activity. It's also very secular in many ways. It's linked to the day and night, it's linked to the seasons. So it's very much about what's happening around you. It needs to be looked at in a kind of complete way. And the more you are open to listening, the more it will offer you. 

Full interview with Shubha Mudgal including this quote and some music.

5. Workshops - April to June
- Scene-Info -

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

Gundecha Brothers

24.-30.04. BERLIN: Indian Music Workshop with vocalist Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay
28-30.04. NORDSEE: Harmonium learning seminar with Jürgen Wade
02.05.-03.05. BERLIN: Traditional Maihar-gharana of Baba Allauddin and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan with David Trasoff
20-21 May. DRESDEN: Odissi danceworkshop with Gudrun Märtens
25.-28.05. Nada Yoga - The healing power of the sound with Frank Beese, Carmen Mager & Barbara Irmer
02.-04.06. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium - Advanced seminar with Devadas Mark Janku
09.-11.06. GERODE / HARZ: Specialization: mantra recitation with Indian instruments in yoga lessons with Frank Beese, Carmen Mager & Barbara Irmer
23.-25.06. HORUMERSIEL: Harmonium - Advanced seminar with Devadas Mark Janku

6. Concerts - April to June
- Scene-Info -

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

21.04. BERLIN: Indigo Masala - Sitar, Akkordeon, Percussion, Vocal 
21.04. GB - LONDON: Baul & Vaishnav Music Festival
21.04. MANNHEIM: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Kontrabass
21.04. DUREN: Jarry Singla & Eastern Flowers - Piano, Percussion, Bass
22.04. LAUTERBACH: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Kontrabass
22.04. STUTTGART: Nawab Khan - Santoor
23.04. STUTTGART: Nawab Khan - Santoor
23.04. FREIBERG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
23.04. DRESDEN: Indigo Masala - Sitar, Akkordeon, Percussion, 
25.04. BERLIN: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
27.04. BERLIN: Ileana Citaristi - Odissi Dance
28.04. GB - LONDON: Taufiq Qureshi - Tabla
28.04. GB - LONDON: Tarun Bhattacharya - Santoor & Ronu Majumdar - Bansuri
28.04. NL - MIDDENBEEMSTER: Joel Eisenkramer - Slide Guitar
28.04. DUSSELDORF: Jarry Singla & Eastern Flowers - Piano, Percussion, Bass
28.04. NL - DEN HAAG: Sayeeduddin Dagar - Dhrupad Vocal
29.04. STUTTGART / OSTFILDERN-NELLINGEN: Shirin Sengupta - Khyal Vocal
29.04. STUTTGART: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
30.04. STUTTGART: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod
30.04. GB - LONDON: Prateek Shrivastava - Sarod
02.05. BADEN BADEN: Karnataka College of Percussion
03.05. BERLIN: David Trasoff - Sarod
04.05. A - WIEN: Radha Anjali & Natya Mandir Dance Company - Bharata Natyam Dance
05.05. WILDEMANN / HARZ: Yogendra - Sitar
06.05. HANNOVER: Yogendra - Sitar
06.05. WAAKIRCHEN: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
06.05. A - GRAZ: Rina Chandra - Bansuri
06.05. GB - LONDON: Shantanu Bandopadhyay - Khyal Vocal
06.05. STUTTGART: Sohini Debnath - Kathak-Tanz
07.05. VECHELDE / BRAUNSCHWEIG: Yogendra - Sitar
07.05. NORTHEIM: Yogendra - Sitar
07.05. STUTTGART: Sohini Debnath - Kathak-Tanz
07.05. NL - AMSTERDAM: Rabindra Jayanti - Art, Dance, Music & Literature by Tagore
10.05. HAMBURG: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
11.05. MAGDEBURG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
12.05. NEUSTADT AM RÜBENBERGE: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
12.05. STUTTGART / OSTFILDERN-NELLINGEN: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
12.05. FREIBURG: Hartmut Schmidt & Liga Saukante - Tanz Masala
13.05. SL - LJUBLJANA: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
13.05. WOLFENBUTTEL: Kalyan Mukherjee - Sarod & Lenneke van Staalen - Violine
13.05. LEIPHEIM: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
13.05. STUTTGART: Subroto Roy Chowdhury - Sitar
14.05. STUTTGART: Subroto Roy Chowdhury - Sitar
19.05. CZ - BUDWEIS: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
19.05. NL - AMSTERDAM: Purbayan Chatterjee - Sitar & Shashank Subramanyam - Flute
19.05. DRESDEN: Gudrun Märtens - Odissi Dance & Selina Sharma - Dhrupad Vocal
19.05. BERLIN: Nandkishor Muley - Santur
20.05. CH - ZÜRICH: Dave Stringer - Kirtan
20.05. KARLSRUHE: Parho Sarothy - Sarod
20.05. A - LINZ: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
21.05. A - ZWETTL: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
21.05. STUTTGART: Monalisa Ghosh - Odissi Dance
22.05. STUTTGART: Monalisa Ghosh - Odissi Dance
24.05. STUTTGART / OSTFILDERN-NELLINGEN: Kalyan Mukherjee - Sarod
24.05. GB - LONDON: Ranajit Sengupta - Sarod & Ashim Chowdhury - Sitar
25.05. KREFELD: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
25.05. CH - BERN: Ashwani Shankar - Shehnai & Flute Jayanth - Flute
26.05. CH - THUN: Ashwani Shankar - Shehnai & Flute Jayanth - Flute
26.05. A - LANS: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
27.05. WARNGAU: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass   
27.05. CH - LAUSANNE: Ashwani Shankar - Shehnai & Flute Jayanth - Flute
01.06. GB - LONDON: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
01.06. F - PARIS: Sudhansu Sharma - Khyal Vocal
01.06. MUNICH: Hariprasad Chaurasia - Bansuri Flute 
02.06. CH - KREUZLINGEN: Ashwani Shankar - Shehnai & Flute Jayanth - Flute
03.06. CH - LIESTAL: Ashwani Shankar - Shehnai & Flute Jayanth - Flute
03.06. I - TORINO: Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
04.06. GB - LONDON: Gaurav Mazumdar - Sitar
05.06. BAD HERRENALB: S. Balachander - Rudra Veena
08.06. F - PARIS: Benoit Beenkar - Vichitra Vina 
08.06. E - BARCELONA: Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
08.06. CH - BASEL: Ashwani Shankar - Shehnai & Flute Jayanth - Flute
09.06. CH - LOCARNO: Ashwani Shankar - Shehnai & Flute Jayanth - Flute
09.06. A - LIENZ: Indian Air - Sitar, Percussion, Bass
09.06. E - MADRID: Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
10.06. CH - LUGANO: Ashwani Shankar - Shehnai & Flute Jayanth - Flute

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