Newsletter November / December 2014


1. Pure Functionality - Harmonium Paloma Basic
2. Christmas Special - 2 CDs for the Price of 1
3. He Made the Tabla Sing - Faiyaz Khan
4. Music With a Claim - YogiTownRecords' CD Début
5. Grammy Nominations - Kirtan Albums Compete
6. Boost for Indian Traditions - Yoga Minister
7. Workshops - December to February
8. Concerts - December & January

1. Pure Functionality - Harmonium Paloma Basic
- New in our Assortment -

Our new harmonium model Paloma Basic 25 S is an amazingly simple low-price instrument. The features are reduced to the essentials; all unnecessary extras have been omitted. This gets you an extremely sturdy and lightweight harmonium way cheaper than any other model in our assortment. It is perfect if have a very small budget, or if you are in need of a second instrument for moving around, or if you like to keep a practice tool for your students or kids, or if you think a shrutibox should also be able to play melodies ... Paloma Basic Harmonium

The Paloma Basic has only one set of reeds. Therefore it can not produce the same full and round sound as the usual double reed harmoniums. However, for the same reason, it needs much less air than double reed harmoniums. That makes the relatively small bellows absolutely sufficient for stable air supply even when playing chords. The clear and very direct sound carries easily even when singing in groups. Materials and workmanship are very simple and transparent shellac surfaces are finished relatively coarse. However, (and most important!) the playability is not at all affected by these slight visual setbacks. Drone sounds can be played by taking off the cover and gently sliding the metal springs off the desired keys. The compact dimensions and small weight make it easy to carry the Paloma Basic? one-handed and to store it away at home or on the road. A carrying bag is included.

The Paloma Basic is now available with us at 230.- Euros (plus 19.90 Euro shipping within Europe). Photos and more info here.


2. Christmas Special - 2 CDs for the Price of 1
- Special Offer -

Still searching for a Christmas gift? Take a closer look at our CDs! Until December 24th we give you one additional free CD for every CD you order! Simply choose two CDs - and pay only the more expensive of the two! Or take four (or six, or eight, or...) - we charge you only the more expensive half of the desired records. The offer is valid for all orders reaching us until December 24th and for all CDs except teaching material. A complete overview of our CDs is available here.
Indian classical music provides listening pleasure for discerning art lovers and is also used to support meditation, nada yoga and dosha balancing according to ayurveda. Popular instruments are sitar, sarod, bamboo flute, santoor and sarangi. In India itself, however, the human voice is regarded as the noblest instrument and the origin of all music. Therefore, you will also find a wide range of male and female classical vocal recordings in our assortment. In addition to classical Indian music, we also offer a variety of other styles. The spectrum ranges from fusion and world music through bhajans, thumri, mantras, qawwali and ghazal to regional folk music .


3. He Made the Tabla Sing - Faiyaz Khan
- Obituary by Daniel Fuchs -

Faiyaz Khan Legendary tabla maestro Faiyaz Khan passed away on 12th of November at the age of 80. Hindustani classical music has lost a shining light and an elder of the Delhi gharana. His deep musicality and warm personality touched scores of people around the world. Born and raised in Sikar, Rajasthan, he started his career at the All India Radio stations in Jaipur and Delhi in the 1950s. Since then he toured the world extensively with artists like thumri queen Siddheshwari Devi, sarod masters Hafiz Ali Khan and Sharan Rani, sitar legends Nikhil Banerjee and Vilayat Khan and flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, among others. Moreover he has been teaching regular masterclasses in India and abroad. After his retirement from All India Radio, he taught for another full 20 years at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in Delhi. He shared the stage and can be heard on countless recordings with several generations of the top artists in Indian classical music. .

Faiyaz Khan was especially well known for his excellent accompaniment for vocal music - and he took pride in the fact that he could play many rounds of an extremely slow ektal (over a minute per cycle) without any significant deviations from the original speed. He was one of the most sought-after vocal accompanists in Delhi and had the privilege of accompanying many stalwarts of the Khyal style of singing from all over India, including Mallikarjun Mansur, with whom he also played at his last concerts in Delhi in 1992. He is survived by 2 sons, 5 daughters, and several grandchildren who carry on his musical tradition.

Faiyaz Khansahib, as students and admirers would fondly call him, was without doubt the most unassuming, humble, and friendly human being one could imagine, never aloof, both as a musician and in daily life - which in his case was inseparable from music. He was a simple man in the most positive meaning of the word, his life was music only and never the politics and often false glamour that surround the music scene. He always gladly accompanied musicians much his junior, often for little or no fee, to help where he could. The Delhi-based sarod master Biswajit Roy Chowdhury is one such musician who is full of praise and thankfulness: "I used to address him as just Ustad and he was just that. How much affection me and my family received from him! He played with me every time I requested him to - anywhere, everywhere, with or without money. The world becomes smaller without you, Ustad.".

On the sad day of Faiyaz Khansahib's passing, Peshkar has made his first (and to the best of my knowledge only) tabla solo CD recording public for non-commercial use. It was also the first of Peshkar's CD releases, along with Abdul Latif Khan's sarangi solo recital (which was his first CD as well). The recording took place at S. Kalyani Studio in Delhi in 1992. Feel free to share widely.

Daniel Fuchs has studied tabla with Faiyaz Khan in Delhi in the 1990s. He founded and single-handedly ran the CD label Peshkar, for which he produced and published Faiyaz Khan's only commercial tabla solo recording in 1994.


4. Music With a Claim - YogiTownRecords' CD Début
- Scene Report by Yogendra -

Since 2003 the small town of Bad Meinberg is home to the headquarters of the Yoga Vidya movement, as of now the largest yoga centre in Europe. Inspired by the dynamic evolution of the Yoga Vidya centre, more and more people with connections to yogic ideas have settled in and around Bad Meinberg over the years. This loose network has been the birthplace of the yoga city initiative. Its basic idea: After the massive decline of Bad Meinberg's traditional spa industry in the 1990s, the town should now transform itself into a model community for sustainable and healthy living in rural areas. The yogic principles of mindfulness towards one's own body, other people, and fellow creatures and the pursuit of peace within, outside and in the world, may give an orientation and enable old and new citizens to join hands and seize the opportunities resulting from the yoga trend for Bad Meinberg.

One of the first tangible fruits of the yoga city idea is the unique new music label YogiTownRecords (YTR), founded in January 2014 by harpist Klaus Heitz and multi-instrumentalist and producer Ananda Danilo Steinert. YTR want not only to promote spiritual music, but to offer opportunities for the development of artistic potential. Individuals should support the joint project, and the community should in turn support the individual. Different generations and artistic sectors come into contact and exchange through working on CD projects and start to inspire each other. A percentage of the profits will be donated for social, environmental and sustainable projects. The first YogiTown-CD was released in October under the title Début. It comes in a charming handmade design and combines the conceptual claim skillfully with the high artistic and technical standards of a professional production.

Yogitown Records Début presents a dazzling colourful array of 14 tracks with various soloists or ensembles with connections to Yoga Vidya. Styles range from shamanic songs through modern mantra adaptations, classic Jewish music, soul, funk and rock to Indian ragas and more. Renowned professional musicians can be heard as well as young artists and undiscovered talents. In many pieces musicians who present their own music on other tracks, help out as accompanying singers or instrumentalists. In the 15th and final track all artists who have contributed to Début can be heard together in one common piece - and that has catchy quality. There is great diversity in the voices, a wonderful variety of sounds and styles, and behind all a deep silence. Part of the profits of Début will be donated to the Brahma Vidya Fund, which is dedicated to education and health care for children in need and needy people in India and around the world.

In terms of distribution YTR keeps a safe distance to the mainstream music industry. Début will probably only be available through the networks of Yoga Vidya, at concerts, from the participating artists and in selected stores. Début is now available from India Instruments for 15.- Euros (plus 5.90 Euros shipping within Europe)! Orders placed before December 24th benefit from our special Christmas offer: Order two (different) CDs and pay only for one of them (see above)!

Listening video.
Website of YogiTownRecords (only in German).
Website of the yoga city initiative (only in German.


5. Grammy Nominations - Kirtan Albums Compete
- Scene Report by Yogendra -

The Grammys, awarded since 1959, are for the global music industry what the Academy Awards are for the film world. Nowadays the ever-growing kirtan community may look forward to the next Grammy Awards on February 8th with some excitement, too. There is no Grammy category for sung Kirtan-Chant-Mantra-Yoga music yet (despite around 80 existing categories) - it is still listed in the New Age category. But in there, kirtan has been taking more and more space year by year, it seems. Among the 78 albums that have been selected for the official nomination procedures of the American National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) from over 300 applications, 18 feature kirtan- or mantra music, according to insider reports - that's nearly 25%. These include the latest recordings of so well-known and yet so different artists as Snatam Kaur, Krishna Das, Deva Premal, Jai Uttal, Manish Vyas and Prem Joshua. More than 12,000 NARAS members have selected the five official nominations for Best New Age Album in November from this still rather long list of suggestions. Those who make it to these top 5 are allowed to officially call themselves Grammy nominees for the rest of their lifes. The nomination list is to be announced on December 5th (after editorial deadline).

Grammy Nominations So far only two kirtan artists have been nominated in the Grammy history: Jai Uttal was nominated in 2002 for the innovative Mondo Rama and Krishna Das in 2012 for the rather traditional Live Ananda. Krishna Das was even given an opportunity for a performance at the official awards show. Neither Jai Uttal nor Krishna Das finally got a Grammy, but at least they showed a mass audience that kirtan is out there. According to the current wave of pre-nominations it seems to be only a matter of time now until more kirtan albums make it onto the nomination list, and one of them finally wins a Grammy. Maybe kirtan will eventually even get its own Grammy category. Hard to believe that it should be kept in the New Age category forever - the musical diversity that has blossomed in the kirtan scene in the past one or two decades is simply too rich. But perhaps there is no suitable Grammy category for kirtan? After all, kirtan is not a particular style of music, but a spiritual practice. And that has nothing at all to do with the Grammy glamour of the music industry...

More info on the Grammy pre-nominations of kirtan albums.
Discussion on classification categories of kirtan.


6. Boost for Indian Traditions - Yoga Minister
- News Background by Yogendra -

The growing global yoga movement will rejoice: In the wake of the recent Indian cabinet reshuffle in early November, Sripad Naik Yesso has become the world's first minister of yoga. Naik Yesso's other competences are ayurveda, the Arab-Islamic medicine teaching unani, the Tamil medicine teaching siddha, homeopathy and naturopathy. In Europe one would probably describe him as minister of complementary medicine and preventive health promotion. The appointment of Naik has been a remarkable political sign from India's prime minister Narendra Modi. Modi is himself a vegetarian and practitioner of yoga. In his recent speech before the UN General Assembly in September, he had already called for an international yoga day. For him, yoga is not just a physical exercise, but a method to connect with the world and nature. By changing their lifestyle and their awareness, people may even be enabled to deal better with climate change, Modi told the UN.

Narendra Modi However, the newly created ministry of yoga is not only supposed to promote public health, but also the economy. The new yoga minister Naik Yesso, previously minister for tourism in the Modi cabinet, is expected to connect his department closely with the tourism industry. As a result, India could become a global centre for wellness and medical tourism. With this move, Modi combines his initiatives in favour of the Indian economy with his nationalist agenda of strengthening Indian traditions. Often he is accused of building a new Hindu dominance and pushing Muslims and other religious minorities to the margins of society. However, that allegation does not stick in this case, because the Islamic unani system and the originally German homeopathy have also been included in the new ministry.


7. Workshops - December to February
- 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 ther workshop page.

Workshop 02.01. - 04.01. OBERLAHR: Harmonium Learning Seminar
23.01. - 25.01. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Learning Seminar
24.01. BERLIN: Harmonium Introduction with Yogendra
14.02. - 15.02. DRESDEN: Kathak-Dance with Ioanna & Ravi Srinivasan
27.02. - 01.03. WANGERLAND: Harmonium Learning Seminar


8. Concerts - December & January
- Scene Info -

As usual, the winter months are a low point for Indian music in Central Europe - most artists are in India for the winter season. But a notable highlight is the all-star concert with Kushal Das, L. Subramaniam, Amjad Ali Khan and Hariprasad Chaurasia in Paris at the end of January. For more detailed information, venues and times, as well as additional dates in 2015, please check our concert calender.

Kushal Das 06.12. MUNICH: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
06.12. BREEST: INDIGO MASALA - World Music Stories
07.12. MUNICH: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
09.12. B - MAASMECHELEN: Ashim Chowdhury - Sitar
10.12. CONSTANCE: Indrajit Roy Chowdhuri - Sitar
11.12. B - BRUXELLES: Ashim Chowdhury - Sitar
13.12. BONN: Ashim Chowdhury - Sitar
19.12. NL - AMSTERDAM: Mehfil - The Winter Edition
20.12. CH - ZURICH: BhaktiBeats Christmas Celebration
21.12. NL - UTRECHT: Shantala (4+)
- 2015 -
17.01. DARMSTADT: Indigo Masala - World Fusion & Kathak
31.01. F - PARIS: Kushal Das (sitar), Ambi Subramaniam L. Subramaniam & (violin), Amjad Ali Khan (sarod), Hariprasad Chaurasia (bansuri)

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