Newsletter May / June 2018

1. Data Protection - Information & Perspective
2. Shrutiboxes in 432 hertz & in G - Lower Tunings
3. Harmonium Purchase Guide (5/6) - Tuning
4. Mantra Wave - Adam Bauer, Nirinjan Kaur, Satyaa & Pari
5. WDR Jazz Award & 70th Birthday - Ramesh Shotham
6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (13) - Silence
7. Workshops - June to August
8. Concerts - June to August


1. Data Protection - Information & Perspective
- Company Info -

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There has been a lot of controversy about the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has become binding on 25 May. Although it had already been in effect for two years, it was still possible to ignore the GDPR without impunity during the transitional period that has been running since then. And those who are not professionally concerned with the subject of data protection probably did so. In any case, the GDPR did not play a role in public until recently. This changed with reports in large media from the beginning of May, and then increased continuously until the reporting date. The discussion was heated, and in order to meet the requirements of the GDPR, small companies and website operators had to design and implement technical and communicative measures in the shortest possible time. As a result, there was an ever-increasing flood of e-mails until the cut-off date that wanted to inform people about the consequences of the GDPR and called on them to do this or that in order to continue or to stop receiving certain information in the future.

India Instruments has deliberately dispensed with panic mails. Instead, we have quietly updated our website and our data processing according to the GDPR guidelines. You can be sure that your personal data is in good hands with us and that we take data protection very serious. We store your data exclusively on our own server. We process your data only for the purpose of handling your orders and enquiries. And we pass on your data to third parties (e.g. to our logistics partners who deliver your ordered goods) exclusively for the fulfilment of your orders. You will find comprehensive information on our data processing and on your rights in our data protection declaration.

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Anyone who has already received our bimonthly newsletter with musician portraits, reviews of books, CDs and events, background reports, practical tips and concert and workshop dates related to Indian music and Indian instruments by e-mail as a customer will continue to receive it. The newsletter is free of charge, of course. And if you no longer wish to receive it, you can simply cancel it at any time informally and with immediate effect, e.g. by email to We do not want to bother anyone with unwanted mailings. If you would like to order the newsletter again, you can do so at any time by e-mail or via the newsletter form on our website - or by contacting us via our online forms.

Data protection is protection of privacy. For this reason, we believe that government regulations on data protection are important and necessary. And we welcome that the European Union takes a lead on this important issue and sets standards worldwide with the GDPR. However, it remains a paper tiger if billion-dollar data companies abuse their market power by linking the use of their free services to the acceptance of terms of use that undermine the principles of the GDPR. And it backfires if, on the other hand, volunteers, small companies and freelancers have to stop their work because their  minimal ressources do not enable them to comply with the GDPR. Therefore jurisdiction and supervisory authorities must now see to a meaningful appliance of the GDPR. And it must be further developed by politics and civil society in order to really give people the promised protection. The last word on the subject of data protection is far from being said.

2. Shrutiboxes in 432 hertz & in G - Lower Tunings
- New in our  Assortment -

Instruments tuned to 432 hertz are in increasing demand with us. Some people find the sound of this tuning, which is significantly lower than the usual standard of 440 hertz, softer and more relaxing. Others argue with harmonic ideas, physical experiments, medical studies or esoteric concepts that 432 hertz is a more natural and healing pitch. In any case, this alternative tuning increases the possibilities of choosing an instrument according to individual preferences. And this is completely in line with the philosophy of India Instruments - and with traditional Indian understanding of music, which does not know any generally defined standard pitch, but always seeks the best possible solution for the individual person.

Shrutibox MKS gross 432Recently we have already added a harmonium inShrutibox Paloma gross 432 432 hertz tuning to our regular assortment, the Shanti Kirtan Classic 432. Now we also offer two shrutiboxes in 432 hertz. The shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar large 432 has a well-balanced, warm, full tone with long sustain, wide dynamic range and easy playability at a moderate price of 289 €. The shrutibox Paloma large 432 for 389 € is our absolute top model. It is made of solid teak wood and impresses with its noble appearance, a unique round, warm and full tone with unusually long sustain, extra wide dynamic range and particularly comfortable playability.

Another new addition to our assortment is the shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar large G. Its low G keynote gives a particularly deep, warm sound. It is well suited for accompaniment of lower voices with a fundamental between G and H, such as mezzo-soprano, alto, baritone and bass. For many instrumentalists, too, the lower register and the warmer sound offer attractive possibilities.

Overview of our shrutiboxes.Overview of our shrutiboxes.

3. Harmonium Purchase Guide (5/6) - Tuning
- Background 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.

hertz symbolWhen you buy a new harmonium today, it is usually tuned to standard pitch a' with 440 hertz in equal temperament. What does that mean? Hertz is the physical unit for pitches. It tells you how often a tone oscillates per second. More hertz means that a tone sounds higher, and with less hertz it sounds lower. Standard pitch means the frequency according to which tuning takes place, i.e. it is the benchmark for all other tones. In case of a' (A4 in scientific writing) 440 hertz tuning, the a' oscillates 440 times per second. Temperament means that the intervals of the natural tones of the overtone series are altered according to specific musical requirements. Equal temperament means that the steps from one note to the next all have the same uniform ratio.

Standard pitches are a pragmatic invention of classical Western music. Over time, the increasingly large instrumental ensembles needed a common reference tone to play together. For centuries the reference tone was determined according to region, musical style and ensemble. Efforts to establish a uniform standard pitch started in the 18th century, as pitches could then be precisely defined with tuning forks and musical life became increasingly international. Throughout the 19th century a variety of very different standard pitches was still in use. While e.g. in France the a' was set by law at 435 hertz, in England it was mainly played at 452 hertz. It was not until the 20th century that an international standard of 440 hertz was agreed upon. However, this standard is not binding - leading orchestras as well as ensembles for early music, for example, deliberately still use different standard pitches today.

padlock symbolIndian music tradition has no need for any uniform standard pitch. The fundamental of an ensemble is always determined by the leader at his own discretion - just as it used to be in early Western music. But although harmoniums are built in India, their construction and tone production with fixed pitches is based on 19th century Western concepts. Until 2 to 3 decades ago, Indian harmoniums were still tuned according to a variety of different standard pitches – as varied as those of 19th century Western music. However, the increasing demand for harmoniums in the West and the omnipresence of digital tuning devices has nudged most Indian harmonium makers to use the 440 hertz standard nowadays.

The great advantages of the equally tempered 440 hertz tuning are its wide distribution and its musical flexibility: You can play together with most of today's instruments and you can switch between all possible keys. If your harmonium is tuned to a different pitch or with a different temperament, its musical versatility and its usability with other instruments are both limited considerably. However, other tunings have their pros as well. They enable you to create very special artistic, therapeutic or meditative effects. We therefore recommend special tunings only for experienced musician who know exactly what they want.

harmonium In recent years, harmoniums tuned to 432 hertz have become increasingly popular, because some people find this much lower tuning softer and more relaxing or consider it to be more natural, harmonious and healing. That's why you find a 432 hertz harmonium in our regular assortment as well - the Shanti Kirtan Classic 432. Apart from that you can have a 440 hertz harmonium tuned by hand for special tunings with a small deviation from the usual standard. For this purpose the vibrating metal reeds inside the harmonium are made more elastic or more dull by removing material from specific areas. Accordingly they vibrate faster or slower, producing higher or lower tones. Tuning harmonium reeds is a demanding job for experts such as our team at India Instruments. However, tuning adjustments by hand are only possible within a narrow range. If you want your harmonium tuned several hertz higher or lower than 440 hertz (e.g. to 432 hertz), it should be equipped with special reeds from the outset. You can order such custom-made harmoniums from India Instruments - more details on request.

Finally some practical physics, auditory psychology and recording studio technology... The exact frequency of harmonium reeds depends on the air temperature. When a harmonium has been tuned to 440 hertz in India at 30 degrees Celsius, then it sounds about one to two hertz higher when measured in Europe at 20 degrees Celsius room temperature. That's because the metal reeds become slightly more tense due to the lower temperature and thus vibrate faster once they are activated. However, our ears usually don't notice such fine deviations without special training. The pitch can change very noticeably due to excessive pumping, though. Excessive pumping leads to overpressure inside the instrument, which inhibits the vibrations of the reeds and thus lowers the pitch. You can hear such pitch sagging due to overpressure most clearly in the lowest notes. But if you record a harmonium in a well-equipped studio, you don't have to worry: When the harmonium has been recorded separately, state of the art audio technology can simply adjust deviations from the desired pitch afterwards.

Overview of our harmoniums.

4. Mantra Wave - Adam Bauer, Nirinjan Kaur, Satyaa & Pari
- Background Info by Martin Frischknecht -

Swiss author and publisher Martin Frischknecht has accompanied the spiritual scene in his home country and elsewhere for decades at close quarters - and occasionally also at a somewhat critical distance. In the spring issue of his magazine Spuren he gives short background information on the mantra wave in Switzerland and introduces three Bhakti musicians as examples for different lineages. The print edition of Spuren appears four times a year and is available for 34 Swiss francs by subscription.

Who would have thought? Just a moment ago mantras were sung almost exclusively in India in the vicinity of temples and altars. From time to time we might have heard a group of Hare Krishna followers singing ecstatically through the streets, distributing blessed biscuits and Hindu treats. That was about it. However, since the beginning of this century, the mantra wave has been rolling.

It all began with musicians like Krishna Das, Miten and Premal and Snatam Kaur, who today tour the world as stars. In Switzerland Dechen chanted Tibetan mantras and the Singing Buddha formation brought Hindu invocations to the people to sing along. Today, every other yoga studio organises events with mantra singing. And there are always new voices with original interpretations. Roughly speaking, three main lines can be derived from the pioneers mentioned above.

Adam Bauer Krishna Das is among the disciples of the Indian guru Neem Karoli Baba. Adam Bauer played the bass guitar with the American mantra singer for many years before setting up his own thing. His slightly melancholic timbre is close to his teacher's. But on Wonderville (Mantralogy), produced by Ben Leibach, he proves to be a very independent performer of the classics. These are pop songs in which more than once a slide guitar whines as if Krishna was riding into the sunset.

SatyaaSatyaa has made a name for herself as a mantra singer as a duo with her partner Pari. As students of Osho, they are in line with Miten and Premal. Satyaa opens her new solo album Isness with a beautifully sung Wahe Guru Wahe Jio. The other pieces do not reach this density any more and are outshone by the first one.

Nirinjan KaurNirinjan Kaur's name and turban already reveal to which lineage she belongs: like Snatam Kaur she is a follower of the Sikh spiritual teacher Yogi Bhajan. After more conventional mantra albums Nirinjan ventured into something really new with To the Heart (Spirit Voyage). Accompanied by innovative cellist and guitarist Matthew Schoening, these songs are better suited to the work of an independent singer-songwriter than to the corny sounds of an esoteric shop. Yet Nirinjan's quiet songs breathe a touching atmosphere of devotion and dedication - enchanting.

Adam Bauer's Website.
Satyaa & Pari's Website.
Niranjan Kaur's Website.

5. WDR Jazz Award & 70th Birthday - Ramesh Shotham
- Felicitation by Yogendra -

He is one of the most inspiring musical personalities in the world jazz scene, received the Jazz Award of major German radio station WDR in February, and celebrated his 70th birthday in May – congratulations, Ramesh Shotham!
Ramesh Shotham

Ramesh was born in Madras, now Chennai, and began his musical career as an autodidactic rock drummer in India. He was already in his 20s when he discovered traditional Indian music for himself and studied classical South Indian percussion. In 1976 he met the great jazz saxophonist Charlie Mariano in Mumbai, and in 1980 finally settled in Cologne, Mariano's adopted home, after a European tour with his Indian Jazz Yatra Septet. For many years Charlie Mariano had been a kind of mentor for him. Ever since Ramesh has been tirelessly on the road as a freelance musician. He has played with countless renowned soloists and bands from all over the world and has set up his own ensembles and projects time and again. He has kept on learning all through his life and has constantly refined and expanded his playing techniques and instrumental repertoire. Thus he has become a true bridge builder between the most diverse musical cultures. Fittingly Ramesh received the WDR Jazz Award in a category called Music Cultures.

The award ceremony took place in February as part of the WDR Jazz Festival in Gütersloh - naturally also with a concert. The winner in the category Improvisation was saxophone player Roger Hanschel. Interestingly, Hanschel has been intensively involved with Indian raga music in recent years and in 2016 released the award-winning CD Assi Ghat under the name Trio Benares, with sitarist Deobrat Mishra and tabla player Prashant Mishra. A duet between the two artists therefore seemed only natural. Watch and hear Shotham and Hanschel combine melodic articulations of North Indian ragas and mathematically complex rhythms of South Indian talas in a jazz context in the award concert live-Video (link not active anymore).

Ramesh's 70th birthday in May was celebrated with a big concert in the Stadtgarten hall in Cologne. He performed with a variety of different formations, from his current group Madras Special - New Generation to another duet with Roger Hanschel, and his new project SONIQ with Jarry Singla on piano and Christina Fuchs on saxophone and clarinet, to the new trio Keshavara of his son Keshav, which moves between relaxed electronics and latent danceability. "A wonderful evening with family, friends and colleagues. I had a lot of fun!!!", Ramesh wrote afterwards.

From 2008 to 2011 I had the great pleasure of playing with Ramesh in an opera production at the Nationaltheater Mannheim and to get to know him personally during long rehearsals and numerous performances. He is certainly one of the friendliest, most open, creative, versatile, uncomplicated and reliable musicians I have ever met. I wish him the best of health and a fulfilled musician's life for many more years to come!

Ramesh's Website.

6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (13) - Silence
- Quote by Alfred Brendel -

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

Alfred BrendelI believe the basis of music is silence. This is especially noticeable when the audience is not quiet in a concert. Any significant music includes silence. There are works in which this can be clearly seen; they arise from or end in silence. There are talking breaks as partners of the music, not as interruptions. There is a connection between good music and silence, which exists neither in muzak nor in pop.

Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel is considered one of the most important 20th century performers of Western classical music. Quote from: Studs Terkel: Studs Meets Music - Studs Terkel im Gespräch mit großen Musikern des 20. Jahrhunderts, p. 82, Verlag Antje Kunstmann

7. Workshops - June to August
- Scene Info -

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

Anna Grover 29.06.-01.07. HAMBURG: Bhramari-Kathak-Workshop with Rita Panesar
30.06. SPEYER: You are Sound with Sundaram
06.-13.07. CH - BLENIO/TESSIN: Summer Dance Week Indian Dance Bharata Natyam with Vijaya Rao
07.07. CH - ST. GALLEN: Tabla Workshop with Manish Vyas
13.-15.07. KÖNIGSHORST/WENDLAND: Bharata Natyam Beginner Workshop with P.T.Narendran & Kalamitra
13.-19.07. KÖNIGSHORST/WENDLAND: Bharata Natyam Summerschool with P.T.Narendran & Kalamitra
15.-20.07. OBERLAHR/WESTERWALD: Path of the Heart with Mantra, Yoga & Harmonium with Marco Büscher
20.-22.07. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Learning Seminar with Devadas Mark Janku
10.-12.08. GERODE/HARZ: Nada Yoga - Healing Power of Sound with C.Mager, B.Irmer & F.Beese
24.-26.08. OBERLAHR/WESTERWALD: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Marco Büscher
26.-31.08. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium & Kirtan in classical Indian style with Ram Vakkalanka



8. Concerts - June to August

- Scene Info -

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

Carsten Wicke 14.06. A - WIEN: Carsten Wicke - Rudra Veena
14.06. CH - WINTERTHUR: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
15.06. CH - LIESTAL: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
15.06. BERLIN: Maharaj Trio - Sarod, Sitar & Tabla
15.06. F - CAEN: Sitardust - IndoJazz
16.06. HAMBURG: Ek Minute Baba - Sitar-Tabla-Rock'n Roll
16.06. MEMMINGEN: Carsten Wicke - Rudra Veena
16.06. BERLIN: Maharaj Trio - Sarod, Sitar & Tabla
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
17.06. NÜRNBERG: Carsten Wicke - Rudra Veena
17.06. DRESDEN: Maharaj Trio - Sarod, Sitar & Tabla
19.06. GB - LONDON: Sanjeev Chimmalgi - Khyal
21.06. I - ROMA: Ritwik Sanyal - Dhrupad Vocal
21.06. CH - BERN: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
21.06. HANNOVER: Maharaj Trio - Sarod, Sitar & Tabla
22.06. KRUGZELL: Carsten Wicke - Rudra Veena
22.06. CH - LUZERN: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
22.06. STEINBERG AM SEE: Prem Joshua - World Music
23.06. GB - OXFORD: Kalatva Collective - Kathak Dance, Vocal, Tabla
23.06. HERRSCHING / AMMERSEE: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
23.06. CH - LAUSANNE: Smit Tiwari - Sarod
23.06. CH - BASEL: Carsten Wicke - Rudra Veena
23.06. FREIBURG: Maharaj Trio - Sarod, Sitar & Tabla
23.06. ES - MADRID: Prem Joshua - World Music
23.06. BURG KLEMPENOW: Matyas Wolter - Sitar
23.06. HERRSCHING AM AMMERSEE: Prema Hara - Kirtan
24.06. CH - ZURICH: Manish Vyas - Mantra & Chanting
24.06. GB - LONDON: Abhay & Kakoli Shankar Mishra - KathaK Dance
24.06. AACHEN: David Trasoff - Sarod
24.06. BERLIN: Ek Minute Baba - Sitar-Tabla-Rock'n Roll
24.06. BERLIN: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
25.06. GB - LONDON: Indrayuddh Majumder - Sarod
25.06. LEVERKUSEN/HITDORF: David Trasoff - Sarod
26.06. I - ROMA: A.Jayaraman & S.Prachande - Bharatanatyam Dance
27.06. LÄRZ: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
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
30.06. F - CELON: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
30.06. WEIMAR: Nelly Gian Geier - Vocal & Sarangi
30.06. MAINZ: Maharaj Trio - Sarod, Sitar & Tabla
30.06. BERLIN: Ingo Armbruster & Lydia Brandt - Mantras
30.06. LÄRZ: Ek Minute Baba - Sitar-Tabla-Rock'n Roll
01.07. STUTTGART: Shouvik Mukherjee – Sitar
01.07. GB - LEICESTER: Kalatva Collective - Kathak Dance, Vocal, Tabla
01.07. I - ZAGAROLO: A.Jayaraman & S.Prachande - Bharatanatyam Dance
03.07. I - ROMA: Ganesh & Kumaresh - Carnatic Violin
03.07. GB - LONDON: Kalatva Collective - Kathak Dance, Vocal, Tabla
03.07. SE - SJÖBO: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
04.07. GB - LONDON: Double Bill Sufi Night - Ghazal & Qawwali
06.07. TRENDELBURG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
06.07. RUDOLSTADT: Shivkumar & Rahul Sharma - Santoor
07.07. RUDOLSTADT: Shivkumar & Rahul Sharma - Santoor
09.07. OBERLAHR: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
10.07. OBERLAHR: Prema Hara - Kirtan
13.07. BAD ESSEN: Yogendra - Sitar
13.07. METZELTHIN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
14.07. MUNICH: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
14.07. POTSDAM: Sebastian Dreyer - Sitar
15.07. BADEN BADEN: Anand Kirtan & Family - Kirtan
17.07. BAD MEINBERG: The Love Keys - Kirtan
18.07. STUTTGART: Bhaskar Das - Bansuri
20.07. LÜNEBURG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
20.07. ES - BARCELONA: Kirtaniyas – Kirtan
21.07. SCHWERIN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
21.07. A - WIEN: Sitar & Bansuri Konzert mit Kathak
21.07. STUTTGART: Iman Das - Vocal
22.07. POSTFELD: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
22.07. STUTTGART: Iman Das - Vocal
23.07. PT - IDANHA-A-NOVA: Prem Joshua - World Music
27.07. LT - AUKSINE GIRIA: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
29.07. CH - BRIENZ: Prema Hara - Kirtan
04.08. EE - ADILA PUHKEKESKUSES: Kirtaniyas - Kirtan
05.08. BE - LIEGE: Sitardust - Strings
08.08. BERLIN: Carsten Wicke - Rudra Veena
10.08. HANNOVER: Carsten Wicke - Rudra Veena
11.08. HILDESHEIM: Carsten Wicke - Rudra Veena
12.08. KALL: Carsten Wicke - Rudra Veena
14.08. BAD MEINBERG: The Love Keys - Kirtan
14.08. I - CASOLE D'ELSA: Prem Joshua - World Music
15.08. BG - PRAVETS: Dave Stringer - Kirtan
18.08. BERLIN: Indigo Masala - Acoustic Raga Chamber Jazz
23.08. I - PETTENASCO: Prem Joshua - World Music
24.08. BAD MEINBERG: Karnamrita & Vijay Krsna - Kirtan
26.08. BAD MEINBERG: Vijay Krsna & Friends - Kirtan
26.08. BE - BEAURAING: Sitardust - IndoJazz

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