Newsletter May / June 2015


1. Harmonium – Paloma 23 B
2. Shrutibox – Foot Pedal for Bellows
3. Teaching Material - Indian Rhythms for Drumset
4. Maihar in Germanisten (2/5) - Ali Akbar College of Music
5. To India and Back Again: The Harmonium Story (2/5) - Transformation
6. Jai's Blog - Why do we sing Kirtan
7. Workshops - Juni to August

1. Harmonium - Paloma 23 B
- New in Our Assortment -

Thanks to world-renowned kirtan singers like Krishna Das and Jai Uttal the Bina 23 B is probably the most famous and most popular harmonium model in the western kirtan scene. The simple construction makes it sturdy on the road, transport is easy due to its small size when folded, and the double reeds (bass and male register) provide a full sound. Unfortunately Bina's quality control leaves much to be desired, often resulting in problems such as sticking keys or out of tune reeds. That's why we do not offer the Bina 23 B in our regular assortment. However, Bina does not actually manufacture the 23 B. Bina rather buys it from various independent supplier workshops and just sticks the brand label on it before selling. Therefore, the exact 23 B model is also available under different names.

Paloma 23 B We have now added the 23 B harmonium with octave coupler from our longtime trusted partner Paloma to our regular assortment. Paloma gets the 23 B from one of the better Bina suppliers. Our Paloma Kirtan 23 B is therefore identical with the Bina instruments. And thanks to the careful Paloma quality control we can offer it without any flaws. The octave coupler of our Paloma Kirtan 23 B harmonium connects the keys to higher octave notes for a brighter sound, but also leads to higher air consumption. The octave coupler can be activated or deactivated according to the requirements.

The Paloma Kirtan 23 B is now available with us @ 590,- Euro plus 19.90 Euros within Europe). Detailed information and pictures are here.

An overview of our complete assortment of harmoniums is here.


2. Shrutibox - Foot Pedal for Bellows
- New in Our Assortment -

Shrutiboxes are among our most popular instruments, thanks to their warm, natural drone sound and easy handling. They are perfect to accompany Indian vocals, overtone singing, chanting mantras and modal improvisation with voices and instruments, and they are versatile in sound and music therapy, too. However, the shrutibox always keeps one hand occupied for pumping the bellows. This is annoying when you actually need both hands for something else - for example playing another instrument.

Our solution to this problem is a foot pedal, which has been developed specifically for shrutiboxes. The movement Shrutiboxpedalof the foot pedal is transmitted to a traction device on the shrutibox via a cable. This allows you to pump the bellows with your foot and keep your hands free. That way you can accompany yourself on the shrutibox while playing e.g. guitar, flute, violin, percussion or other instruments. The only condition: the shrutibox must be able to stand stably on its own. The traction device can be easily attached to most common shrutiboxes with an adhesive coating that can be removed without a trace again if necessary. For regular use of the footpedal it is advisable to fix the traction device permanently to the shrutibox with screws (included in the set).

The foot pedal with the traction device is hand-made in the Netherlands by American instrument maker Richard Bowring. It meets high European quality standards. The heavy stainless steel base plate ensures high stability, the rubber coating on the upper side prevents slipping, and the fine coordination of the components guarantees noise-free movements of the mechanism.

The shrutibox foot pedal is now available with us @ 189.- Euros (plus 6.90 Euros shipping within Germany / 19.90 Euros within Europe). More information and photos here.
An overview of our complete assortment of shrutiboxes is available here.


3. Teaching Material - Indian Rhythms for Drumset
- New in Our Assortment -

The complexity of Indian rhythm is phenomenal and legendary. Anyone who has ever seen a classical performance of tabla, pakhawaj, mridangam or ghatam, is unlikely to forget it. However, the rhythm is not bound to the technically demanding traditional Indian instruments. Thanks to the rhythm syllables used in traditional teaching (bols in North India / konnakol in South India) one can learn the Indian rhythm system without knowledge of Indian instruments and use it to play other instruments. Pete Lockett's extensive and profound textbook Indian Rhythms for Drumset has been written especially for drummers to enable them to adopt Indian rhythm to their set.

Indian Rhythm for Drumset consists of a 136-page textbook in large format and a data CD with over 200 MP3 examples played by Pete Lockett, bringing to live nearly all the material of the book. After a brief introduction to Indian rhythms, the syllabic system and the notation used in the book for drumset with bass, hi-hat, snare and two toms, you can dive into more than 100 pages with systematically building up exercises. The focus is on the application of South Indian rhythm concepts to jazz, rock, funk and other styles. It covers, inter alia, phrase development, groove, syncopations, rhythmic modulations, complex stick patterns and solo development. Some examples of Pete Lockett's teaching are presented by him for free on his website in five videos.
Indian Rhythms for Drumset
Englishman Pete Lockett is probably among the world's best percussionists. He played music for a number of major Hollywood films and worked as a drummer, composer, arranger and multi-percussionist with artists as diverse as Björk, Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Bill Bruford, Vikku Vinayakram, Zakir Hussain, Texas, U. Shrinivas, Nitin Sawhney, Evelyn Glennie, Rory Gallagher, Pet Shop Boys, AR Rahman and Sinéad O'Connor. His website is one of the best and most visited percussion websites worldwide, mainly because of the extensive free training material which is available there.

Indian Music for Drumset is now available with us @ 24.90 Euros (plus 3.90 Euros shipping within Europe). Teaching material for various Indian and oriental percussion instruments is here. Teaching material for the Indian rhythm system is here.


4. Maihar in Germanistan (2/5) - Ali Akbar College of Music
- Background Story by Yogendra -

Great masters of the Maihar school like Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Nikhil Banerjee and Hariprasad Chaurasia have brought Indian classical music to the West and shaped its image worldwide for decades. We tell their story and show how Maihar musicians contribute to the scene for Indian music in Central Europe today.

From his father Allauddin Khan, founder of the Maihar school, legendary sarod virtuoso Ali Akbar Khan received the mission to spread his music as far as the sun and the moon do shine. In addition to giving worldwide concerts, Ali Akbar pursued this mission primarily by teaching the music - and thus brought it with as much intensitity and depth to as many people as possible. He founded his first music school in Calcutta in 1956, under the name of Ali Akbar College of Music (AACM). In 1967 he founded a school near San Francisco, California, under the same name. He settled there shortly afterwards and spent most of his time tirelessly teaching thousands of students from around the world for decades until the day he died. Anyone who wanted to join was welcome in his classroom - regardless of previous knowledge or talent. Particularly promising students received additional private lessons from him at his home and got the opportunity to perform with him in major concerts. With his profound knowledge and his passionate commitment as a teacher he established the AACM as one of the most important institutions for the study of Indian music worldwide just until his death in 2009.
Zuckerman and Khansahib
American Ken Zuckerman had tried and played a little folk, rock, jazz and classical music as a teenager, before he became a student of Ali Akbar Khan in his early 20s in 1971. In addition to his apprenticeship in sarod he studied early Western music, learnt lute, discovered parallels between the Indian raga tradition and modal medieval music, and ended up in Switzerland at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, the renowned early music branch of the Music Academy in Basel. From 1980 onwards, Ken Zuckerman could offer teachings in Indian music at the Music Academy Basel as part of the Studio fuer Musik der Kulturen (studio for music cultures). In 1985, with support of the Music Academy, he finally succeeded in bringing his teacher Ali Akbar Khan to Basel for a week-long seminar - the hour of birth of the Ali Akbar College of Music, Switzerland.

From then on, Ali Akbar Khan spent at least a week teaching in Basel every year in the fall, always accompanied by Swapan Chaudhuri, who gave lessons in tabla at the same time. The reputation of these seminars spread rapidly and attracted dozens of students, teachers and performers of Indian classical music from all over Central Europe every year, who were eager to learn from the main heir and head of the Maihar school. Everyone was welcome there, no matter what instrument he played or what capabilities he had, just like at the AACM in California. Each group lesson in instrumental music was preceded by a vocal class - an essential foundation for a deeper understanding of Indian raga music. The classes were always accompanied by live tabla, of course. Master students of Ali Akbar Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri and other renowned musicians (Ken Zuckerman, James Pomerantz, Daniel Bradley, Richard Harrington, Jatinder Thakur, Henry Nagelberg) gave additional introductory sessions for beginners, rhythm training and refresher sessions to work through the material of the classes. Student recitals and concerts by Ali Akbar Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri gave opportunities to experience the music in performance outside the classroom. And in between the annual seminars, Ken Zuckerman gave regular vocal and instrumental classes for beginners and advanced students to ensure the necessary continuity. That way the AACM Switzerland became the most important centre in Europe for the study of Indian music of the Maihar school.
Ken and Khan
In 2000, Ali Akbar Khan gave his last seminar in Basel due to his declining health. Since then, Ken Zuckerman has kept the wonderful tradition of the annual seminars alive, together with Swapan Chaudhuri and renowned guest teachers. In 2014, the 29th seminar took place and plans are already made for the 30th jubilee this autumn! Ken Zuckerman also continued the regular classes throughout the year, both at the Music Academy and privately. This work is supported by guest teachers Sankar Chowdhury, Henry Nagelberg, Hazael Bonhert, Harprit Singh (all Tabla) and Daniel Bradley (sitar). Besides teaching, the AACM Switzerland also organises concerts with renowned artists several times a year. Its Salon de Musique plays a special role here: It's a small, intimate concert hall where all performances are given without amplification - a rare treat in the contemporary Indian music scene. All these activities ensure that Basel is still a vital centre of the Maihar school in Europe today.

Further information on AACM Switzerland.
Further information on AACM in California.
Ali Akbar Khan 1996 in an instrumental class at the Basel seminar in 1996.
Ali Akbar Khan 1995 in a vocal class at the Basel seminar in 1995.
Ali Akbar Khan comments on the importance of practice and teaches on the sarod in Basel.


5. To India and Back Again: The Harmonium Story (2/5) - Transformation
- Background Story by Yogendra -

The harmonium is an integral part of many Indian vocal styles and of the global kirtan movement. However, it is originally a European instrument. How could it get established in India and spread back all over the world from there? An exciting story full of amazing twists... In the first episode we have described the invention of the harmonium in Europe in the first half of the 19th century and its subsequent worldwide success.

It is widely believed (and written) that Christian missionaries have brought the harmonium to India and spread it there. This story may seem very convincing at first glance, but there is little evidence to support it. Well documented, however, is the import of large quantities of European pedal harmoniums into the colonial centers Calcutta, Surat, Bombay and Madras from the mid 19th century onwards. Far away from home, the British colonialists were anxious to maintain their own culture and to stay connected with the latest developments in Europe. Since the harmonium was very fashionable there at that time, and also far better suited for the tropics than e.g. a piano, it was ideal for the salons of the European upper class in India.
Pedal Harmonium
Progressive-minded parts of the Indian elite followed the example of the colonial rulers and started using the harmonium, too. In Calcutta, the Brahmo Samaj (an influential reform movement of Bengali intellectuals, trying to combine Western ideas of progress with Indian spirituality) used the harmonium to accompany songs at religious gatherings. And members of the prestigious Tagore family used it for experiments with Indian music for theatre orchestra from the 1860s. From the 1880s, the European pedal harmonium became popular for the accompaniment of musical dramas in the diverse and vibrant Marathi theatre scene in and around Bombay. Together with tabla and sarangi it provided the perfect support for the singing actors on the stage. Since the Marathi theatre of that time also used classical and semi-classical vocal genres, there were overlaps with the circles of classical raga music. Thus the harmonium found various ways of spreading among Indian musicians. Indian instrument makers took the opportunity as well, went into selling imported harmoniums and began to build harmoniums themselves, especially in the British Indian colonial capital Calcutta.
Harmoni Flute
But how was the big, bulky European pedal harmonium, which was played sitting on a chair with both hands and with the feet (hence the common Indian name foot harmonium), transformed into the small Indian instrument we know today, played one-handed sitting on the floor, with the bellows attached to the back side? Two short-lived European instruments, the tabla organ and the harmoniflute, were essential intermediates. The table organ was built without the lower structure of bellows and pedals, so that it could be played on any available table. The air for the reeds was supplied by bellows mounted to the top of this instrument. The harmoniflute had no lower bellows and pedals either. It was usually played on a rack and had the bellows attached to the back side. Dwarkanath Ghosh, harmonium maker and dealer in Calcutta (and grandfather of Jnan Prakash Ghosh), knew both the table organ and the harmoniflute with all their strengths and weaknesses. After some tweaking of the bellows system, Dwarkanath finally claimed the invention of the Indian harmonium in 1886. He called it hand harmonium in the beginning, to distinguish it from the common European foot (pedal) harmonium.

Tischorgel The removal of the lower bellows and pedals made it possible to play the hand harmonium sitting on the ground according to Indian custom. Thus it got rid of its association with European colonial culture and domination and could be seen as an Indian instrument. The loss of one playing hand (which had to replace the feet in pumping the bellows) was not a problem, because the Indian musical traditions with their unisonuous structure did not require any bass voice or chord accompaniment. Pumping the bellows with a hand even became an advantage: It enabled the musician to modulate the volume with far more flexibility and subtlety than on a pedal harmonium - the harmonium began to breathe. Without the lower structure, the harmonium was also much easier to transport and cheaper to produce. And unlike most traditional Indian instruments, it neither needed to be tuned every time before playing, nor was it necessary to practice it for a long time before being able to play anything. All these factors together ensured that the indianised hand harmonium spread rapidly throughout India around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century and found its way into a wide variety of Indian musical styles.

Tulsidas Borkar plays Natyageet (theatre music) on a pedal harmonium.
Natya Sangeet (music theatre with costumes and stage design) with harmonium accompaniment (pedal harmonium visible briefly in front of the stage).


6. Jai's Blog - Why do we sing Kirtan
- Notes of Jai Uttal -

Jai Uttal, disciple of Neem Karoli Baba and Ali Akbar Khan, is one of the pioneers of kirtan music since the beginning of the 1990s. He has released 18 records and has opened up new horizons in the merging of Indian traditions with Western elements in many of them. In 2002 his album Mondo Rama was the first ever kirtan record to receive a Grammy nomination. His blog lets us partcipipate in his thoughts, feelings and experiences as a musician and a devotee. We would like to share excerpts from his blog in a loose series from now on. More from and about Jai Uttal here.

Jai UttalIn 2011, I went to the Himalayan foothills in India to our Guru's ashram to spend a little time with our Indian mother. It was an amazing trip on many levels, but there's one aspect that I'd like to write about now. Every afternoon, as the sun began to slip behind the mountains, I was asked to sing, mostly 'Hanuman Chaleesa', with a few short Kirtans as well. This was blasted out of loud speakers for the whole valley to hear, and I have to confess I felt quite self-conscious the whole time. Afterwards Ma would always praise me highly, saying how beautiful my singing was. I sat there feeling like a fraud. I was so filled with ego, nervousness, effort! So finally I said "Ma, so often I'm singing and I don't feel any love or devotion. It just feels like hard work. What's wrong with me?"

She smiled her cute, mysterious 'Goddess' smile and said: "Jai Gopal. It doesn't matter at all what you feel! This is your service to Maharajji! You Americans seem to think that service is just eating a ladoo (yummy Indian sweet) and blissing out. For us here in the temple, service is often exhausting and filled with anxiety. But we do it because it absolutely needs to be done."She continued VERY forcefully: "In this day and age, singing God's name is urgent! Without God's name our very limbs won't stay attached to our bodies!". A chill ran through me. What an image! We chant for so many 'spiritual' reasons, but then and there, Ma gave me a new bottom line!

The rest of our time there I saw ashram life and 'Bhakti life' quite differently. Everyone was super busy, either doing work around the temple or singing and chanting prayers. Such an incredible wave of devotional activities and it really seemed that no one was doing it for their own selves, no one was doing it to get high or to feel ecstasy. It was all for the 'other', be it God, Guru, or, more often than not, for all of the people around them, the visitors, the ashram residents, the villagers, the whole world! This really really really woke me up and began to transform my whole concept of Bhakti. Who and what is it for? A good party? An amazing euphoric feeling? A more beautiful sense of one's self? No, I don't think so, although none of those reasons are inherently bad or wrong. But I'm beginning to feel that in these rather desperate times my Bhakti practice is to somehow or another help the world keep it's limbs attached to it's body, and, in doing so, help to bring healing and happiness to all of us, including myself. (What would I do without my limbs? I couldn't even play with my boy!) And, as if that weren't enough, to attempt to serve my Guru. And as if THAT weren't enough, to try and simply be a good and kind person! Kind of pretentious? Well, maybe! But it's the best I can do right now. And I honestly feel that I'm just barely touching my little toe in the great ocean of divine love that we call Bhakti.


7. Workshops - Juni to August
- Scene Infos -

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. tl_files/Newsletter/pics_may_june_15/Vijaya_Rao.jpg

16.06. - 19.06. OY-MITTELBERG (Allgäu): Nada Yoga Retreat with Anne-Careen Engel
19.06. - November 2015 HAMMERSBACH (near Hanau): Mantra, singing, harmonium and drum in conjunction with Yoga with Sundaram
21.06. - 28.06. BAD MEINBERG: Chakras in Nada Yoga with Anne-Careen Engel
26.06. - 28.06. WANGERLAND (North Sea): Harmonium learning seminar with Uma Marija Balic
28.06. - 05.07. CH - GENEVA: Songs of the Baul with Parvathy Baul
05.07. - 10.07. OBERLAHR / Westerwald: Mantra summer camp with Atmamitra Mack and many others
11.07. - 17.07. CH - OLIVONE (Ticino): Indian Dance & Music Week with Vijaya Rao & Anton Tönz
11.07. - 18.07. BE - NEUFCHATEAU: Bansuri with Jay Gandhi
11.07. - 18.07. BE - NEUFCHATEAU: Sitar with Ashok Pathak
11.07. - 18.07. BE - NEUFCHATEAU: Tabla with Nabankur Bhattacharya
05.08. - 08.08. FREIBURG: Kanjira medium with Ganesh Kumar
07.08. - 09.08. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium learning seminar with Narendra Hübner
07.08. - 09.08. GERODE (Harz mountains): Nada Yoga - the healing power of sound with Barbara Irmer, Carmen Mager, Frank Beese
09.08. - 14.08. HORUMERSIEL (North Sea): Yoga Mantra holiday week with Sundaram
21.08. - 26.08. WUSTROW (Wendland): Bharatanatyam Summer School with P.T. Narendran


8 Concerts - June & July
- Scene Infos -

Check our concert calendar for more detailed information, venues, times and additional dates in 2015!

tl_files/Newsletter/pics_may_june_15/konzert.jpg tl_files/Newsletter/pics_may_june_15/sahana.jpg

13.06. MAINZ: Priya Gurumoorthy - Saraswati-Veena
13.06. CH - BADEN: Bharatanatyam Dance - Nateschwara Company
13.06. FRANKFURT: Viraja & Shyamjith Kiran - Bharatanatyam Dance
13.06. NESSENDORF / HOLSTEIN: Subhanka Chatterjee - Khyal Vocal
13.06. A - INNSBRUCK: Indian Air
13.06. BONN: Anandita Basu - Sufi Vocal
13.06. CH - BERN: Deva Premal, Miten & Manose - Mantras
14.06. NÜRNBERG: Shashank Subramaniam - Flute
14.06. CH - ZÜRICH: Deva Premal, Miten & Manose - Mantras
14.06. CHIEMING: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
14.06. LÜBECK: Shouvik Mukherjee - Sitar
15.06. BERLIN: Padmaja Reddy & Company - Kuchipudi Dance
18.06. CH - LUZERN: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
19.06. CH - LAUSANNE: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
19.06. TRAVEMÜNDE (Lübeck): Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
25.06. CH - GENEVA: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
25.06. BERLIN: Bala Devi Chandrashekar - Bharatanatyam Dance
26.06. LÄRZ: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Percussion
26.06. CH - ST. GALLEN: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
27.06. CH - WINTERTHUR: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
28.06. HANNOVER: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, piano, drums
01.07. MÜNCHEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, piano, drums
02.07. TEGERNSEE: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Percussion
03.07. ES - BARCELONA: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
04.07. ES - BARCELONA: Jai Uttal - Kirtan
05.07. WETTERZEUBE (bei Gera / Zeitz): Indigo Masala - World Music Stories
12.07. BERLIN: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
13.07. F - COMPS (Avignon): Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
16.07. KISSLEGG: Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
17.07. CH - STECKBORN (Bodensee): Prem Joshua & Band - World Music
17.07. KÜHLUNGSBORN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Percussion
18.07. NESSENDORF / HOLSTEIN: Ashraf Sharif Khan - Sitar
18.07. KLEIN TREBBOW: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Schlagzeug
27.07. NESSENDORF / HOLSTEIN: Anna Grover - Bharatanatyam Dance
09.08. GRÜNBERG / OBERHESSEN: Indigo Masala - World Music Stories

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