Newsletter May / June 2016

1. New Special Offers - Unique Opportunities
2. Distinction - Songlines Award for Debashish Bhattacharya
3. The Esraj Handbook - An Evolving Knowledge Base
4. Qawwali in Delhi - 700 Years of Music Tradition
5. Yoga of Sound (3/4) - Kirtan & Mandra Sadhana with Harmonium & Tanpura
6. Kirtan (10) - Flower Power & Punk: George Harrison & Nina Hagen
7. How to Make (Indian) Music? (1) - The Spirit of the Raga
8. Workshops - June to August
9. Concerts - June & July


1. New Special Offers - Unique Opportunities
- Company Info -

Special Offer Bargains and rarities, curiosities and treasures - in our special offer section you can find all the things that we do not sell as part of our regular assortment in the online catalogue. In May we have thoroughly cleared our shop and found a wide variety of interesting instruments - which we now present at the special offer page. Some of these unique instruments are samples that did not make it into our regular assortment. Others have little flaws. Some have been purchased second hand. Still others are demonstration models from our store, have a non-standard design or have been sorted out from our regular range.

Currently there are ten harmoniums from 220.00 to 1090.00 Euros, two excellent sitars from 890.00 to 1190.00 Euros, two tanpuras, two shrutiboxes, various tablas, two sarangis, a vichitra veena, a string tambourine, two dholaks, a pakhawaj, a mini rabab, a mini dilruba, two tunable kanjeeras, a wooden ghatam, a ghumat and several jaw's harps. There's a lot to discover - enjoy browsing! Almost all the special offers are single pieces and are being sold by order - so act quickly if you're a bargain hunter!

Special offer instruments

2. Distinction - Songlines Award for Debashish Bhattacharya
- Scene News -

The British magazine Songlines, founded in 1999 and edited by Simon Broughton, is today's leading world music print publication. Songlines features reviews, interviews, introductions to various world music traditions, infos on concerts and festivals and travel stories. Every edition is published with a CD. Moreover, Songlines runs a podcast. In 2009 Songlines also started giving annual awards in various categories, thus continuing the tradition of the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music, which had been stopped in 2008.

Debashish Bhattachariya Award winner in the category Asia and South Pacific in 2016 is Indian slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya for his album Slide Guitar Ragas from Dusk Till Dawn. Debashish Bhattacharya comes from a family of singers in Calcutta, began to play guitar as an infant and built his first modified guitar as a teenager. In his 20s he studied with Brij Bhushan Kabra, the pioneer of Indian slide guitar. After this apprenticeship he began an impressive international career, earning him top 10 positions in world music charts, the 2007 BBC Planet Award for World Music and a Grammy nomination in 2009. Debashish Bhattacharya is an acclaimed classical Indian raga virtuoso as well as a fusion musician, a teacher and an innovative designer who has developed a whole range of Indian slide guitars in a variety of sizes and string setups. Today he is the most important Indian slide guitarist besides Grammy winner Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

On Slide Guitar Ragas from Dusk Till Dawn, Debashish Bhattacharya uses five ragas, which are assigned to the corresponding times, to take the listener on a musical journey from sunset through the night into the new morning. He himself says: “The music I play is universal, rooted deep in thousands of years of tradition. It has the essence of peace, harmony and bliss. But it’s essentially modern, engulfing the mood of reggae, hip-hop, rock, jazz and blues. That’s what my music is all about.”

Songlines awardee page with audio sample.

Debashish Bhattacharya's website.

Indian slide guitar Mohan Veena in our online catalogue.

3. The Esraj Handbook - An Evolving Knowledge Base
- Review by Yogendra -

The fascinating bowed instrument esraj is usually overshadowed by the established classical Indian instruments. So far it has gained only regional popularity - in Bengal for the accompaniment of Tagore songs and in Punjab, together with its larger sister the dilruba, for the accompaniment of songs from the Sikh tradition. However, its sound is so unique and compelling that you can easily fall in love with it. When that has happened and you wanted to learn esraj, you looked in vain for teaching material so far. This void is now partly filled by The Esraj Handbook by Austrian composer and esraj player Denovaire.

Denovaire The subtitle An Evolving Knowledge Base says a lot about this work. It is not meant as complete, but is supposed to be developed ever further. Therefore it is available only in digital form, not in printing - that way it can be updated easily. The Esraj Handbook does not want to be a systematic technical instructional and teaching work either. It just wants to provide essential basic knowledge and recommend exercises, based on which you can make your own explorations. According to this idea the work presents information on subjects as varied as harmonics, acoustic special effects, Indian music theory, improvisation, performance, accessories and instrument purchase - all that on only 25 pages. There are also chapters on the structure of the esraj and on posture, fingering and bowing. But there is clearly no intention of spreading a specific doctrine, but to show ways to making your own exciting discoveries.

The open spirit of inquiry becomes particularly clear when Denovaire addresses fundamental questions of music making. Trained as a composer in the Western art music tradition he knows all too well that there can never be only one true doctrine. However, this does not mean that anything goes in music. Quite the cEsraj Handbook Coverontrary: For Denovaire every note counts, and it's always about playing the right note at the right time - or to leave the right pause in the right place. This rightness is what makes great music, but it can not be defined according to external criteria. It requires a certain inner attitude: The musician must be the channel or amplifier for a higher power, by making his mind empty and purifying his senses.

  In summary: A useful guide for anyone interested in esraj or dilruba, put together with a lot of dedication, and offered at a really low price. And very stimulating reading for non-esraj players as well in its understanding of basic musical concepts.

The Esraj Handbook is available from Denovaire.

4. Qawwali in Delhi - 700 Years of Music Tradition
- Travel Inspiration by Indien Aktuell -

Nizamuddin Dargah Every evening qawwali performances take place in Nizamuddin Dargah, near Mathura Road in Delhi. Especially popular is the Thursday night, called Jummeraat, which always has many listeners. On that day there are usually two sessions, one at sunset and another one around 9 pm. Only in winter there is only session at dusk, after evening prayers, at which everyone is welcome to participate. (Please pay attention to proper clothing, with long sleeves, long pants and a headdress for women, e.g. a scarf over shoulders and hair).

When you enter Nizamuddin Basti, the area around the mausoleum, you will be immediately transported to another time. The narrow streets are full of noise, one sees colourful fabrics, smoke is rising from the grills with the meat for dinner which you can enjoy after qawwali here. There are many stalls where rose petals and incense are sold, which you can sacrifice at the Dargarh. Visitors are first shown to the tomb (Khusrau's Mazaar). Of course, you must take off your shoes here. Vendors at the booths will watch over them for you, but you will not get any token.

Once you are inside, you can sacrifice your offerings (incense or petals). Women are not allowed in the innermost sanctuary, however. They usually give their offerings to the guards. The interior of the tomb stands out with its beautiful, intricate architecture and ornate decorations on the columns. The guards like to show you around and answer your questions and although photography and filming is officially prohibited, you will see many people filming and taking pictures.

Musiker nizamuddhin_2 When the room fills up, you should look for a place on the marble floor to listen to the music. The Nizami Brothers are the resident qawwals. They come from a family that has been presenting their songs here for 700 years. The singers and musicians are loudly welcomed by the audience. The musicians first tune and warm up on stage before they start their songs with full force. The performance takes about an hour. The passionate audience participation, the ubiquitous smells of flowers and incense and the whole atmosphere in the room will make you feel transported back to a time centuries ago. The experience of a qawwali performance in Nizamuddin Dargah is very moving and certainly memorable.

5. Yoga of Sound (3/4) - Kirtan & Mandra Sadhana with Harmonium & 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 Europäischen College für Yoga und Therapie 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.

A central aspect of nada yoga practice in the Indian tradition is kirtan singing. Kirtan is a call-and-response singing where the lead singer gives the melody, rhythm and text and the groups responds accordingly. Mantras as well as bhajans (devotional Indian songs) can be sung as kirtan. Kirtan singing is all about devotion and deeply touching the heart quality. It is usually accompanied by harmonium, drums and cymbals.

Harmonium The harmonium has become an almost indispensable part of traditional kirtan groups in India and enjoys increasing popularity in western chanting groups. It has also conquered the concert halls of classical Indian music in the first half of the 20th century. Harmonium players usually sit on the floor and have the harmonium standing in front of them. Some musicians put one side of the harmonium on one leg while the other side rests on the ground. This is the qawwali style as is preferred by Indian and Pakistani sufis.

The Indian harmonium has the keys of an organ or a keyboard. However, the keys are played only with the right or dominant hand while the other hand operates the bellows. Pumping the bellows represents the breathing of the instrument. The air flows over tuned metal reeds, similar to the metal rees of a harmonica, which are thus made to vibrate and produce sound. The register stops allow to use different octaves or their combinations and thus different timbres. The pumping motion of the left hand primarily controls the volume. Moreover rhythmic accents can be given with the pumping. The harmonium is mainly used as a melody instrument which supports and carries the singing. In addition, it can also serve as a drone, similar to the tanpura. Use of chords can enrich the kirtan experience.

Tanpura A traditional nada yoga practice, which can be accompanied with either the tanpura or the harmonium, is called mandra sadhana. Mandra means low and sadhana means spiritual practice. The advantage of the harmonium accompaniment is that the individual notes of the raga can be played. This gives beginners a good orientation. Mandra sadhana is a basic technique to cultivate the voice for singers and instrumentalists both in the North Indian Hindustani style as well as in the South Indian Carnatic music tradition. Mandra sadhana is practiced in the morning, preferably in the scale of raga Bhairav.

Practice with the harmonium:
- Play the tonic Sa (for example the note c) on the harmonium.
- Sing Sa in resonance with the sound of the harmonium.
- Gradually go down the scale of morning raga Bhairav: Ni (h), komal Dha (a flat), Pa (g) and reach to low Ma (f).
- Stay there for several minutes and sing this tone with all vowels (particularly a, o and u).
- Gradually go up the scale over the middle Sa, komal Re (d flat), Ga (e) and Ma (f) until you reach the middle Pa (g).

The voice has a direct relationship with the healing power of music and the inner source that feeds all sound. In singing the syllables of different ragas (Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa) you can feel their resonance. The energy centres in the body are addressed and the connection between sound vibration and sound space is felt. The tones activate the energy flow in the nadis. The rising note sequence symbolises the sunrise and the awakening of consciousness.

Accompaniment with the tanpura:
- Tune your tanpura to the tonic c as Sa. The first string is the Ma (in this case the f), so the complete tuning is Ma, Sa', Sa', Sa (f, c', c', c).
- Begin with playing the tanpura and listen to its sound.
- Proceed with the singing practice as described above.

Mandra sadhana opens the voice, extends range and volume and enhances the resonance. This exercise improves concentration, develops the personal sound quality, trains the voice and deepens the breath. It has a stimulating effect on the internal organs. With a regular practice, the sense of your own centre will be strengthened. After practice of mandra sadhana you can continue with a morning swim and the practice of Surya Namaskar for invigorating the whole body.

Kirtan Radha Ramana Haribol from the Kirtaniyas.
Graphic scale illustration of raga Bhairav and demonstration on the harmonium with different tonic notes.


6. Kirtan (10) - Flower Power & Punk: George Harrison & Nina Hagen
- 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 the previous article I’ve mentioned how Kula Shaker has been THE kirtan rockband of the 90’s. Although Kula Shaker might be the first one to have a complete Sanskrit kirtan in the top-ten charts, other rockstars have been influenced by these ancients chants as well... The Western world changed in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The hippies took over! Many of them travelled to the far East in search of a higher meaning to life. Various gurus came to the West to share their philosophies. This was the first milestone to enable sacred mantras to be exposed to a broader Western audience.

Georg Harrison George Harrison of the Beatles was the first person to introduce kirtan on a larger scale. He was influenced by sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, Transcendental Meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Paramahamsa Yogananda, founder of the Self Realization Fellowship and Srila Prabhupada, the driving force of the Hare Krishna movement. All four of the Beatles were fond of eastern philosophy, but it was George who eventually set the tone and became a symbol. He visited Vrindavan with Ravi Shankar in 1966, where he first experienced Kirtan. Later he worked together with Ravi Shankar and produced the groundbreaking CD Chants of India in 1997.

Harrison also co-operated with the Hare Krishnas in London, producing the legendary single The Radha Krishna Temple in 1969 (and the LP version in 1971). George, or Son of Hari as Srila Prabhupada would lovingly call him, was a key figure for the Krishna movement. The Krishna mantra from the single was played in 1969 just before Bob Dylan's big comeback concert in London. The mantra was also exposed to a large audience during halftime of a Manchester United football match - making sure the mantra „penetrated“ British society. From that day on, the Krishna devotees would appear regularly in the media, performing Kirtan.

My Sweet Lord.
George’s last performance.

As the flower power revolution started to wear out, times would change. The late seventies were the age of punk rock, enabling new rebels to arise. Just like the hippies, the punks were anti-authoritarian ideologists, but with a more DIY-culture. Therefore their music style is less wavy and more direct. In some ways the political status of a country would also help cultivate such revolutionists.

Nina Hagen Our next rock-star is Nina Hagen. Born in East Berlin, growing up in a house that opposed East Berlins regime, she was bound to end up as a punk. Hagen became popular from 1974 onwards due to several appearances in East German TV. In 1976 she moved first to the UK and later on settled in West Berlin. After releasing numerous albums and giving birth to her daughter Cosma Shiva in 1981, Nina Hagen wrote her first autobiography „Ich bin ein Berliner“ in 1988. During this time, Hagen had already been influenced by Eastern philosophy and recorded some mantras that have been added to her albums as special tracks (Om Haidakhandi and Shiva). This eventually resulted in Hagen recording a complete mantra CD called Om Namah Shivay in 1999, including an unaltered version of the Krishna mantra. Hagen believed that the Hindu God Krishna was the King of Jerusalem as Krishna is sometimes refered to as Christ.

Hagen is still into producing devotional music, as shows in her two latest albums Personal Jesus and Volksbeat. However, Hagen left the ashram she used to visit due to politics and is focused on spreading the teachings of Christ through her music nowadays.

He Shiva Shankara live.
Hara Hara Amarnatha Gange live.

7. How to Make (Indian) Music? (1) - The Spirit of the Raga
- Quote by Hariprasad Chaurasia -

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

Hariprasad Chaurasia My practice is my pooja. My Sargam and scales are my mantra. Power of God is what I try to convey through my music. First of all I choose a raga that gives me musical satisfaction. When I choose that raga then I welcome and invite the raga. To do that I have to meditate on the raga to understand its structure. When I get the structure then I can enjoy playing it. When I play a few beautiful notes, the spirit of the raga feels happy and comes and blesses me. Then the real music comes.

8. Workshops - June to August
- 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.

David Stringer 16.06. - 19.06. I - ALGHERO (SARDINIA): Dhrupad Singing with the Gundecha Brothers
22.06. - 23.06. I - ZAGAROLO: Masterclass Bansuri with Hariprasad Chaurasia
23.06. - 26.06. SCHLOSS GLARISEGG / BODENSEE: Kirtan Flight School - Level I with Dave Stringer & Brenda McMorrow
24.06. - 26.06. WEMMETSWEILER (Saarland): Raga & Tala Intensive - Kirwani with Yogendra
24.06. - 26.06. OBERLAHR (Westerwald): Harmonium for Beginners with Devadas Mark Janku
25.06. - 27.06. I - ZAGAROLO: Masterclass Raga & Tala with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Amita Dalal & Nihar Mehta
25.06. - 29.06. SCHLOSS GLARISEGG / BODENSEE: Kirtan Flight School - Level II with Dave Stringer & Brenda McMorrow
01.07. - 03.07. I - ZAGAROLO: Masterclass Bharatanatyam Dance with Mavin Khoo
01.07. - 03.07. HAMBURG: Bhramari-Kathak Dance with Christa Chattopadhyay
01.07. - 03.05. GERODE: Advanced Traing Nada Yoga - Indian Instruments in Yoga Teaching with Barbara Irmer, Carmen Mager, Frank Beese
04.07. - 08.07. OBERLAHR (Westerwald): Mantra Summer Camp with Sundaram and others
09.07. - 10.07. FRANKFURT: Harmonium for Beginners with Gyanroopa Dickbertel
10.07. - 17.07. BAD MEINBERG: Chakras in Nada Yoga with Anne-Careen Engel
15.07. - 17.07. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium - Advanced Seminar with Devadas Mark Janku
24.07. - 29.07. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium and Kirtan Holiday Week with Devadas Mark Janku
01.08. - 05.08. GR - CORFU: Hearts on Fire: Chanting Retreat with Satyaa & Pari
08.08. - 12.08. GR - CORFU: Hearts on Fire: Chanting Retreat with Satyaa & Pari
25.08. - 27.08. CH - ZURICH: Nada Yoga with Sundaram
26.08. - 28.08. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium for Beginners with Jurgen Wade

9. Concerts - June & July
- Scene Info -

Check our concert calendar for more detailed information, venues, times and further events in 2016!

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt 16.06. BERLIN: Samir Chatterjee - Tabla
16.06. CH - LIESTAL: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
17.06. CH - LUZERN: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
17.06. SE - GOTHENBORG: Abhay Rustum Sopori - Santur
17.06. PL - POZNAN: Shafqat Ali Khan - vocal
18.06. LICHTENSTEIN: Rajyashree Ramesh - Kuchipudi
18.06. L - LUXEMBOURG: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
18.06. PL - POZNAN: Debashish Bhattacharya - Slide Guitar
19.06. BREMEN: Rajendra Gangani - Kathak Dance
19.06. DRESDEN: Rajyashree Ramesh - Kuchipudi
19.06. BERLIN: Rajyashree Ramesh - Kuchipudi
19.06. DUSSELDORF: Samir Chatterjee - Tabla
20.06. BERLIN: Ananda Dhara - Indian Fusion Music
20.06. EINBECK: Samir Chatterjee - Tabla
21.06. I - ROMA: Hariprasad Chaurasia - Bansuri
21.06. MONACO - MONTE CARLO: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - Mohan Vina
22.06. BERLIN: Samir Chatterjee - Tabla & Tamam Ensemble
22.06. CH - THUN: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
23.06. CH - BERN: Udai Mazumdar & Friends
24.06. CH - ST. GALLEN: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
24.06. NL - AMSTERDAM: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - Slide Guitar Mohan Veena
24.06. BERLIN: Abhay Rustum Sopori - Santur
24.06. COLOGNE: Hindol Deb - Sitar
25.06. COLOGNE: Benjamin Stein & Tobias Bülow - Cello, Bansuri
25.06. BONN: Meera Varghese - Bharatanatyam Dance
25.06. BONN: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
25.06. STUTTGART: Dance Theatre from India
25.06. CH - VADUZ: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
27.06. BERLIN: Bala Devi Chandrashekar - Bharatanatyam Dance
28.06. I - ROMA: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - Mohan Vina
29.06. DARMSTADT: Sahana Banerjee - Sitar
30.06. RO - BUCHAREST: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - Mohan Vina
01.07. COLOGNE: Dietmar Willmann - Saxophone
02.07. COLOGNE: Hindol Deb - Sitar
03.07. COLOGNE: Subhrodeep Pathak - Sitar
03.07. COLOGNE: Eastern Flowers
03.07. CH - ZURICH: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - Mohan Vina
05.07. I - ROMA: Mavin Khoo - Bharatanatyam Dance
06.07. WESTERWALD: Sundaram & Friends - Mantras / Kirtan
08.07. RUDOLSTADT: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
09.07. RUDOLSTADT: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
09.07. RUDOLSTADT: Anoushka Shankar - Sitar
30.07. WACHENHEIM: Indigo Masala - World Music Stories

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