Newsletter May 2010

1. Special Offer Mini Harmoniums
- Special Offers -

Are you looking for an incredibly cheap, small and light harmonium without any unnecessary gadgets? Our special offer mini harmonium from Bina in Delhi might be just right for you! It is perfect as a practical accompaniment outdoors and on the road, for beginners who just want to give it a try, and for children for playing and learning music. The extremely low price of just 89.- Euros (plus shipping) is made possible by simplest quality of materials and workmanship, limitation to one register and a range of two octaves (25 keys) and abdication of drones, octave coupler or other extras. However, the instrument has a relatively powerful and sharp sound and is fully playable. We carefully check all essential functions - i.e. sealing of the air chamber, movability of keys, response and tuning of the reeds - of each individual instrument to make sure of that.

Detailed infos on materials, configuration and functions as well as pictures and a sound sample are available at Special Offers. Verbal descriptions are only available in German - a free rough translation to English or to your native language can be obtained from This special offer is limited to four instruments altogether. They are sold according to the sequence of orders.


2. Unique Items for Sale
- Special Offers -

Once in a while it happens that somebody at India Instruments takes a close look around the shop and notices the amount of unique items that can not be sold as part of our standard assortment: 2nd hand instruments from customers, samples from various makers, discontinued models, instruments with minor flaws or other unusual features. Then it is time to take out yardstick, camera, digital recorder and writing tool in order to describe and document and record all these instruments individually - and finally to offer them in our online marketplace.

We have just completed one more of these cycles and are now presenting a wide variety of unique instruments. Please have a look at Special Offers for new shrutiboxes from Bina and Bhargava, harmoniums from Paul and Keshab Banerjee, sitars from Rikhi Ram and Hiren Roy, tanpuras in sizes female and instrumental - and of course all the treasures and rarities that have already been in the marketplace before. In order to give a more comprehensive impression we have recorded individual sound samples of some of the instruments - that should make the choice easier for all those unable to come to our shop in Berlin. All others are cordially invited to visit us and check out the marketplace instruments (as well as our regular assortment!) personally. Just make an appointment by mailing to or call +49-30-6211724. All verbal descriptions in our marketplace are only available in German - a free rough translation to English or to your native language can be obtained from


3. Network of Sound Workers
- Scene Info -

Sound has an impact on human beings - this fundamental insight can have far reaching consequences. It is used in manifold forms of conscious work with sound for pedagogical, therapeutical and spiritual purposes. The focus of all these forms of sound work is not the development of musical skills, but the transformative potential of sound - whether produced by one's own voice, played on instruments or reproduced from recordings.

As part of our network pages we are planning to introduce a rubric for sound workers who do explicitly refer to Indian traditions or use Indian instruments. E.g. anybody working with tanpura, harmonium, shrutibox or other Indian instruments or using elements from Indian vocal traditions in yoga, meditation, music therapy or healing may present him- or herself here. Entries are free of cost for the sound workers. Just mail us your name, contact data, a short text on your personal background and your work and a photo of yourself - we take care of the rest.

Our network pages are trying to promote the practice of Indian music and the working with Indian instruments in Europe. For that purpose we publish concert dates, workshop infos and short portraits of people active in the field LEHRERSEITE. Our newly designed website, which is supposed to go online this summer, will expand and differentiate the network pages. Portraits will then be presented under the headings of Music Instruction, Dance Instruction, Sound Work and Repairs.


4. Calcutta 2010 - Travel Notes
- Commentary by Peter Pannke, Berlin -

The reduction of border controls within the European Union due the Schengen Treaty of 1995 led to a walling-off of the Schengen countries to the outside world by means of stricter border controls and visa regulations. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, ever new restrictions of free travel have been introduced around the world. Just recently India has tightened its restrictions for tourist visa. Tagore-award winner Peter Pannke comments on the consequences of all these measures:

Entering Germany has never been easy for musicians from Eastern European and third world countries. I have given a dramatic example in my book Singers Die Twice. Indian as well as other artists have to undergo absurd and humiliating procedures in German Embassies, whose only purpose seems to deter the applicants. Moreover, Germans who invite foreigners from non-European countries, are obliged to produce an income statement of bizarre height since 1997. Former German Interior Minister Schäuble even demanded a central record of all people inviting more than two foreigners in two years, because he considered them suspect of organising human trafficking and prostitution.

It was long to be expected that the Indian side would be responsive to this. Early this year India tightened its rules for tourist visa, because - according to the website of the Indian Embassy - they had been abused in the past. Tourists are not allowed to re-enter India any more within two months after leaving the country. They are not supposed to take a deeper interest in the country, it seems. They should just spend their money and simply disappear and not come back too soon. You are even asked to provide a travel plan before you enter the country. There is no room for spontaneity anymore - which is so necessary to develop an artistic vision.

How do these restrictions affect cultural exchange? In the world view of the bureaucrats, artists do not even exist. You have to be either a tourist, or a businessman, or maybe a visiting scholar with an official invitation. However, Indian musicians coming to the EU to play concerts don't fit into any of these categories. Nor do Europeans, who go to India for music studies within the traditional master-disciple framework outside any institutions. Indian musicians in Europe are therefore forced to pretend being tourists, while European music students either have to register with official institutions or to commute between India and Europe. The personal connections between enthusiasts at grassroot level are thus dragged into a grey area. Concert organisers, musicians and music students have no choice but to bypass visa rules, foreigner's tax laws and other regulations and thus slide over the rim of illegality. And since years, the governments have tried to close the remaining loopholes.

All this is not an Indo-German problem, but a problem of Europe with the rest of the world. Musicians and concert organisers are hit particularly hard by the current restrictions of free travel. Freemuse, a worldwide organisation for the freedom of musical expression, has published a white paper on travel restrictions for musicians, which is available for free download at The right to chose where you want to go was once proclaimed as a basic human right. Those times are obviously gone.

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