Newsletter March / April 2018

1. New Harmoniums – Compactina Mini & Kirtan Classic 432
2. Vintage String Instruments – Unique Treasures Available
3. Harmonium Purchase Guide (4/6) – Sustain, Response & Volume
4. Craft & Art in Bhakti Music (4) – Clarity of Intention
5. Studying Indian Music – Popakademie Mannheim & Elsewhere
6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (12) – Nuances Make a Difference
7. Workshops – April to June
8. Concerts –  April to June


1. New Harmoniums - Compactina Mini & Kirtan Classic 432
- Shop Info -

We would like to offer the perfect harmonium for everyone... That is why we have expanded our product range once again!

Harmonium Shanti Kirtan Classic 432The Shanti Kirtan Classic 432 is the latest addition to our assortment - our first harmonium tuned to 432 hertz instead of the usual 440 hertz. The lower 432 hertz tuning is increasingly in demand. Some find it softer, more harmonious and more soothing than the common 440 hertz standard. Since harmoniums cannot be re-tuned at will, however, the 432 tuning can make it impossible to play together with other instruments. Apart from this limitation, the Shanti Kirtan Classic 432 is a good choice for beginners and kirtan singers and almost identical in construction to our Kirtan Classic harmoniums by Paloma and Tirupati and the Bina 23 B. The simple construction makes it inexpensive and sturdy. Double reeds, octave coupler and three drone notes provide a full, brilliant sound. And thanks to the removable bellows, it can be folded very compactly.
Photos, sound sample and further information. 

Harmonium Shanti Compactina Mini

Our second new harmonium addition is the Shanti Compactina Mini, an extremely compact and light harmonium and therefore ideal for travelling. Its unique construction resembles that of our bestseller Paloma Compactina and makes the Shanti Compactina Mini only about half as deep and significantly narrower and lighter than ordinary standard harmoniums - without any (potentially failure-prone) folding mechanism. It is ideal for musicians who are looking for the smallest possible harmonium with a full, round sound and good quality. However, the smaller pitch range, the lack of register separation and drone notes and the relatively small secondary bellows opening to the front somewhat limit the musical possibilities. For example, playing chords without volume fluctuations is only possible with a certain amount of practice.
Photos, sound sample and further information.

Shanti is our brand name for instruments from Kaayna Musicals from Ghaziabad, a neighbouring city of Delhi. Kaayna Musicals has become a partner of India Instruments in 2018. We currently offer more Shanti harmoniums on our special offers page.


2. Vintage String Instruments – Unique Treasures Available
- Shop Info -

Collectors and lovers of old Indian stringed instruments pay attention: We have recently gained access to an impressive private collection of over 50 sitars as well as various tanpuras, sarods, vinas, surbahars, sarangis, esrajs and dilrubas! The instruments date from the beginning of the 20th century to the more recent past and are to be sold little by little. They include unique pieces from classic brands such as Hiren Roy, Hemen, Rikhi Ram, Radha Krishna Sharma, Kanailal & Brother, Naskar and Sher Mohammad, many of them from the heyday of modern sitar making, when high-quality woods were more easily available and the craftsmanship ethos was held high. The collection is scattered over various locations and has not yet been fully documented. The exact origin and history of the individual instruments lies largely in the dark. But most of the instruments are in good condition and speak for themselves.

We have already bought two beautiful old Hiren Roy sitars, re-stringed them and have them ready to be played. Currently, we also have a number of other unique stringed instruments in our shop. Photos, sound samples and more information:

Hiren Roy Sitar Simple Deco

* Beautiful old Hiren Roy sitar Simple Deco
* Great old Rikhi Ram sitar
* Sitar by Sitaram Sitaria from the 1940s
* Sitar Gandhar Pancham by J.K. Sengupta
* Beautifully decorated antique esraj
* Ancient folk sarangi
Overview of all special offers – please scroll.

Sitar Hiren RoySimple Deco

We have received photos of some instruments from the above mentioned collection and put them online without comment for a first impression – check them out:

* 3 sitars from Kanailal & Brother
* 3 sitars from Sher Mohammad from the first half of the 20. century
* 3 anonymous sitars from the first half of the 20. century
* Hemen sarod, probably form the 1950s
* 4 sarangis from the recent past

All these instruments are for sale. Prices are subject to negotiation - please contact us if you are interested! Please contact us as well if you are looking for a vintage instrument that you don't find here! We will be happy to make search queries, do research and let you know when we have found an instrument that matches your search criteria!

3. Harmonium Purchase Guide (4/6) – Sustain, Response & Volume
- Backfround Info -

We offer a wide range of different harmonium models. But how can you find the right harmonium for your specific requirements? The Harmonium Purchase Guide gives you some orientation. It deals with six essential topics: mobility; sound & feel; context & flexibility; sustain, response & volume; tuning and trustworthy sources.


Ideally all notes of a harmonium should respond immediately and evenly, they should continue to sound evenly for as long as possible without constant pumping, and it should be possible to vary the volume by pumping the bellows more or less vigorously. However, these requirements are partially contradictory and cannot all be implemented equally.
Therefore, the interaction of the vibrating reeds and the air pressure with which they are activated must be coordinated carefully for the desired playing style. In classical Indian music, for example, the notes should respond at lightning speed and rather loudly and should not linger for long. Only then can the many filigree ornamentations and precise rhythmic accents, with which Indian musicians articulate their melodies, come out clearly. For western vocal accompaniment with chords, on the other hand, the notes should be rather soft and sustained for a long time.

The air pressure in the secondary bellows has the greatest influence on sustain, response and volume. In most harmoniums, the secondary bellows are installed at the very bottom of the cabinet, under the keyboard and the air chambers, invisible from the outside. When not in use, strong springs at the bottom of the harmonium box flatten the secondary bellows. However, when they are filled with air by pumping the outer bellows, the bottom springs want to squeeze the air out again. Depending on their tension and the amount of air inside the secondary bellows, the springs build up different amounts of pressure. When the air pressure is relatively high the reeds respond immediately and very loudly and have little sustain - this is the Indian melody style. When the air pressure is relatively low, on the other hand, the reeds respond softly and possibly with a slight delay and have a longer sustain - this is the western chord style. Fortunately, the spring tension can be changed relatively easily by bending the springs. That is why our workshop team is able to adjust sustain, response and volume within certain limits to suit individual requirements, either more Indian or more western style, when you buy a harmonium from us or bring it in for repair or maintenance!


However, the possibility of adjusting air pressure by bending springs is very limited when a harmonium has relatively small secondary bellows. They simply don't provide enough air.  Playing long standing chords with three or more notes at the same time evenly is sometimes impossible with small secondary bellows. This limitation occurs mainly in harmoniums with a particularly compact design with a prism-shaped instead of the regular cuboid secondary bellows, e.g. in all Compactina, Dulcetina and Harinam models. Harmoniums with a range of less than three octaves may be affected by this fundamental problem as well. So be prepared for limited sustain and get ready for a more Indian playing style if you want a particularly small and light harmonium. 

If the spring tension is set as required, but certain notes respond with a delay or sound dull and muffled, the corresponding reeds must be adjusted. This problem may occur when the manufacturer has used bad reeds or when the reeds have worn out or been deformed by intense playing or external influences. With a lot of experience and sensitivity an expert craftsman can bend the deformed reeds back into their ideal shape. Individual weaknesses of an otherwise nice harmonium can thus be fixed relatively well.

Conclusion: Sustain, response and volume are decisive for the playing feeling, but can be adjusted relatively simply to individual preferences. When choosing a harmonium, they should therefore not play too big a role - even if some sources see it differently. Elements that can not be changed should get much more importance in a purchase decision. Only particularly small or compact harmoniums have such structural restrictions that the resulting musical limitations should be considered very carefully.

Overview of our harmoniums here.
Overview of our special offers with further harmoniums here.

4. Craft & Art in Bhakti Music (4) – Clarity of Intention
- Contribution by Deva Premal & Miten -

Singing mantras together is a part of Bhakti yoga, the Indian path of devotion. Today, you can experience Bhakti music outside traditional temples in public concerts, at festivals, on the internet and on CDs. Some Bhakti musicians have become world-famous stars and many others follow in their footsteps. What musical skills are required of a Bhakti musician? Is Bhakti music a form of art? We have asked Bhakti musicians to address these issues. Deva Premal and Miten are among the pioneers who have introduced mantra chants to a wider public since the 1990s. Miten had been a successful rock musician before he became an Osho sannyasin. Today, Deva Premal and Miten are on tour together all over the world most of the time. More than a million records of their music have been sold. Marketing is controlled by their own agency Prabhu Music.

Deva Premal

Singing mantras is basically a repetition of sounds over and over again. There is no big kind of musical production around it. It's very simple. It's something I can do and I can share, and it's worth while even though it's simple. It's worth while even though it comes very natural to me.

Musical skills help, but they are not essential. What matters is a clarity of intention - you cannot 'perform' mantras. Kirtan and sacred chanting is never 'performed' - it is a spiritual practice. Kirtan is not 'art' - it is an ancient expression of celebration for no reason at all. There is no 'angst' in mantra chanting. It is inclusive, not an event where the 'performers' and the 'audience' take on stereotypical roles. Only then can healing happen.

Deva had no musical skills when we started singing together. I had a long and painful apprenticeship in the rock music world of the 60's and 70's in London, followed by a time as music coordinator in Osho's ashram in Pune, India, for many years. Which is where Deva and I met. We never looked on mantra chanting as a career move. Hence the lack of performance. We just wanted to say 'thank you' to our guru. The more we sang, the more people seemed to be atracted. This was before kirtan and mantra chanting became popular in the West. When we recorded our first album 'The Essence' the only other kirtan wallahs were Krishna Das and Jai Uttal. We all came through at the same time. We were sharing something precious, something deeper than entertainment.

We create everything in our music ourselves - melody, rhythm, harmony, form, arrangement. Everyone in our band contributes, but basically the direction of what we're doing comes down to us. We do not at all consider ourselves artists. And we don't 'teach'. Everything is totally experiential. The more you do something the better you get. Not necessarily technically, but spiritually. One's intention crystalises and the path you walk becomes clear. So, for the past 27 years we have refined our connection to each other, through mantras and sacred music. This is what we share. We meditate, we explore, and we share the outcome of our meditations.

Website of Deva Premal & Miten.

5. Studying Indian Music – Popakademie Mannheim & Elsewhere
- Scene Info -

Pop music is a cultural asset, an economic factor and a source of inspiration. With this basic understanding, the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg (state university for popular music in Mannheim) has been acting as a competence centre for all aspects of the music industry since 2003.  Since 2015, the Popakademie has been the first state university in Germany to offer an artistic course in world music. Initially, the six-semester bachelor's programme focused on Turkish and Arabic music - an obvious consequence of the large number of people of Turkish and, more recently, Arab origin in Germany. Now the Popakademie is breaking new ground by offering a course in Indian music with a focus on sitar for the first time from winter semester 2018!

Pop AkademieThe artistic idea, its implementation and credibility are at the centre of the world music courses. Hindol Deb, a versatile classical raga performer who has also made a name for himself with various crossover projects, has been hired as a teacher for the new main subject sitar. In addition to artistic content, the course also teaches music industry skills and sheds light on cultural backgrounds and current trends in world music. The course includes instrumental instruction, ensemble work, music theory, ear training, compositional forms of Turkish-Arab music, improvisation, world music, transcultural music, the history of popular music, music production, recording and live technology, multimedia, artist development for world music as well as economic and legal basics of music management. Deadline for applications is April 30th - more information here.


While Germany is currently creating its first full course of artistic study for Indian music, similar courses have been offered for quite some time in England, the Netherlands and Italy. The School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS for short, was founded in 1916 as an independent college of the University of London. Its Department of Music offers various Bachelor, Master and PhD programmes in which Indian music practice can be studied in combination with an academic component. The 4-year Bachelor's programme in World Music under the direction of Hariprasad Chaurasia at the University of the Arts Rotterdam focuses entirely on artistic practice. Indian music main subjects in Rotterdam are vocal, bansuri, sitar, tabla or sarangi. In Italy you can study Indian vocal, sitar, bansuri, tabla, kathak or bharatanatyam dance at the Vicenza Conservatory.

What other options are there in the German-speaking countries? For several years now, the Global Music Academy in Berlin has been striving to offer professional training in world music, which should also include Indian music. So far, however, only preparatory courses are available due to formal problems. The Musik Akademie Basel with the Hochschule fur Musik and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis offers students introductory courses in Indian vocal and instrumental music and modal improvisation. And at the University of Hildesheim, students get individual lessons from freely selectable teachers in any chosen instrument (including Indian ones) as part of the further education programme musik.welt at the Center for World Music or in the study programme Cultural Studies and Aesthetic Practice.

There is a whole range of different possibilities of studying Indian music with professional standards in Europe today. Various music schools offer Indian music in their programme as well. And last but not least, many teachers offer private lessons - many of them can be found on the teacher's page in our network section. Go for it if you want to learn!


6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (12) – Nuances Make a Difference
- Quote by Kumar Mukherjee -

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

Kumar Mukherjee (photo by Prashant Arora)

In our music it is freedom within the discipline which matters. And innovation
or imagination, they play a big part in interpretation of ragas. It is not
merely a question of hitting certain notes, playing with certain phrases. The
nuances, the undertones and overtones, the colour that is provided, the sound
production of those phrases, inevitably make a difference in the interpretation.

Kumar Mukherjee, music critic and vocalist in Clip #2 of the unfinished Nikhil Banerjee documentary That which colors the mind by Steven Baigel.



7. Workshops - April to June
- Scene Info -

Details of all workshops are available in our website's network section.

20.-22.04. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Katyayani
20.-22.04. BAD MEINBERG: Nada Yoga - Sing yourself into the light with Anne-Careen Engel
21.04.-17.07. CH - BASEL: Tabla Seminar with Sankar Chowdhury
22.-27.04. OY-MITTELBERG / ALLGÄU: Harmonium and Kirtan Week with Devadas
22.-29.04. BAD MEINBERG: Nada Yoga basic training with Anne-Careen Engel
07.-11.05. DORSTEN: Raga improvisation with Diptesh Bhattacharya
10.-13.05. GERODE / HARZ: Nada Yoga - the healing power of sound with C. Mager, B. Irmer & F. Beese
12.-13.05. MUNSTER: Nada and Bhakti Yoga training module with Sundaram
31.05.-03.06. HEIDELBERG: Kirtan Camp with The Heidelberg Kirtan Project
01.-03.06. HORUMERSIEL / NORDSEE: Harmonium Learning Seminar with Devadas
07.-13.06. CH - STECKBORN: Kirtan Flight School with Dave Stringer
09.06. DRESDEN: Nada Yoga Workshop with Sundaram
10.-15.06. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium and Kirtan Week with Devadas
29.06-01.07. HAMBURG: Bhramari-Kathak-Workshop with Rita Panesar
30.06. SPEYER: You are sound with Sundaram


8. Concerts - April to June

- Szene-Info -

For details, locations, times and further dates check our concert calendar.

20.04. BERLIN: Diptesh Bhattacharya - Sarod
20.04. HANNOVER: Yogendra - Sitar
20.04. GB - LONDON: Chandrashekar Phanse - Sitar
20.04. A - WOERGL: East End - WorldBeatTrio
21.04. CELLE: Yogendra - Sitar
21.04. STUTTGART: Prosenjit Sengupta - Sarod
21.04. BAD KOHLGRUB: The Love Keys - Kirtan
22.04. NL - DEN HAAG: Kalyanjit Das - Sitar
22.04. BRAUNSCHWEIG: Yogendra - Sitar
22.04. STUTTGART: Prosenjit Sengupta - Sarod
24.04. BERLIN: Sonali Mishra - Odissi Dance
25.04. BERLIN: Ragatala Ensemble
25.04. HAMBURG: Faiz Ali Faiz & Ensemble - Qawwali
26.04. BERLIN: Prosenjit Sengupta - Sarod
27.04. GB - LONDON: J A Jayanth – Bansuri
27.04. HILDESHEIM: Yogendra - Sitar
28.04. POTSDAM: Sebastian Dreyer - Sitar
28.04. LEIPZIG: Henning Kirmse - Sitar
28.04. GB - SHEFFIELD: Arjun Baba - Kirtan
29.04. A - SIRNITZ: Rina Chandra - Bansuri
29.04. DEHLITZ: Henning Kirmse - Sitar
29.04. DUISBURG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
30.04. KREFELD: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
02.05. FRANKFURT/M: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
03.05. BREMEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
04.05. SPIEKEROOG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
04.05. KARLSRUHE: Josh Feinberg - Sitar
05.05. FREIBURG: Sundaram - Kirtan
05.05. BAD KISSINGEN: The Love Keys - Kirtan
05.05. DK - COPENHAGEN: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
05.05. BAD MEINBERG: Shri Ram Das - Kirtan
06.05. HEIDELBERG: The Heidelberg Kirtan Project - Kirtan
06.05. SE - STOCKHOLM: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
06.05. A - GRAZ: Rina Chandra - Bansuri
06.05. NEURUPPIN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
08.05. BAD MEINBERG: Shri Ram Das - Kirtan
11.05. STUTTGART: Subhankar Chatterjee - Khyal Vocal
12.05. DORSTEN: Diptesh Bhattacharya - Sarod
12.05. BAD MEINBERG: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
17.05. NL - SASSSENHEIM: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
18.05. STUTTGART: Liyakat Ali Khan - Sarangi
18.05. NL - AMSTERDAM: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
19.05. FREUDENSTADT: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
19.05. BE - BRUSSELS: Sitardust - IndoJazz
22.05. BERLIN: Subroto Trinity - Sitar
24.05. CH - BIEL: Matyas Wolter - Sitar
25.05. CH - ZURICH: Dave Stringer - Kirtan
25.05. BE - LIEGE: Sitardust - Strings
26.05. HAMBURG: Dave Stringer - Kirtan
26.05. CH - ZURICH: Mirabei Ceiba - Mantras
26.05. BE - BRAINE-LE-COMTE: Sitardust - IndoJazz
26.05. WOLFENBUTTEL: Vikash Maharaj - Sarod
27.05. BE - BRUSSELS: Sitardust - IndoJazz
30.05. BE - GENT: Prem Joshua - World Music
31.05. CH - THUN: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
31.05. COLOGNE: Prem Joshua - World Music
31.05. DRESDEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
01.06. RUDOLSTADT: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
01.06. CH - LOCARNO: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
02.06. STUTTGART: Saniya Patankar - Vocal
02.06. COLOGNE - Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
02.06. GB - BOURNEMOUTH: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
03.06. HEIDELBERG: The Heidelberg Kirtan Project - Kirtan
03.06. STUTTGART: Saniya Patankar - Vocal
06.06. GB - GLASTONBURY: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
08.06. STUTTGART: Gopal Prasad - Bansuri
08.06. GB - LONDON: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
08.06. CH - ST. GALLEN: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
09.06. NL - AMSTERDAM: Abhisek Lahiri - Sarod
09.06. STUTTGART: Gopal Prasad - Bansuri
09.06. CH - KREUZLINGEN: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
10.06. STUTTGART: Shahid Khan - Santur & Sarangi
10.06. STUTTGART: Nawab Khan - Santoor
14.06. CH - WINTERTHUR: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
15.06. CH - LIESTAL: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
16.06. STUTTGART: Rafat Khan - Sitar
16.06. HEIDENROD/SPRINGEN: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
16.06. CH - BASEL: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
17.06. STUTTGART: Rafat Khan - Sitar
21.06. CH - BERN: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
22.06. CH - LUZERN: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
22.06. STEINBERG AM SEE: Prem Joshua - World Music
23.06. HERRSCHING / AMMERSEE: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
23.06. CH - LAUSANNE: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
24.06. BERLIN: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
27.06. NO - OSLO: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
29.06. STUTTGART: Shouvik Mukherjee - Sitar
30.06. F - CELON: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
30.06. RO - TUZLA: Prem Joshua - World Music
30.06. SPEYER: Sundaram - Kirtan

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