Newsletter November / December 2017

1. New Harmoniums - Standard & Dulcetina from Tirupati & Bina
2. Christmas Sale - CDs & DVDs with 50% Discount
3. Harmonium Purchase Guide (2/6) – Sound & Feel
4. Craft & Art in Bhakti Music (2) – Respect for Tradition
5. Girija Devi – Queen of Thumri
6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (10) – Sacred Space
7. Workshops – December to February
8. Concerts –  December to February


1. New Harmoniums - Standard & Dulcetina from Tirupati & Bina
- Company Info -

We'd like to offer the perfectly fitting harmonium for each and everyone. That's why we have expanded our product range again!

Tirupati StandardNew in our regular assortment is the Standard D 39-3 from Tirupati. It is perfect for beginners looking for a simple yet very solid low price instrument. It produces a full, round and slightly sharp sound with a lot of warmth and has a good quality of materials and craftsmanship. Now available from us @ 489.00 €.
Detailed info, pictures & sound sample.

As a glimpse of a possible closer cooperation with the well-known company Bina we currently have two harmonium models from Bina in our special offer section.


The Bina Standard harmonium is great for beginners looking for a simple very low price instrument with all essential features and a full range. It produces a full, rich sound and has a simple quality of materials and craftsmanship. Now available from us @ 449.00 € (EU price) - only as long as stock lasts!
Detailed info & pictures.

Tirupati KirtanThe Bina Dulcetina is a light and slim harmonium with bellows opening to the front and without wooden box. It's therefore very light and handy for travelling - much like our bestseller, the Paloma Compactina. It has good material and workmanship, good response, full sound, and classy design with glossy surfaces made of natural shellac. It is therefore an interesting alternative to our Paloma Compactina, but with a wider tonal range of 3 ½ octaves and at a much lower price of just 689.00 € (EU price). Only available as long as stock lasts!
Detailed info & pictures.

Finally one more info: Our former harmonium models Kirtan 23 B from Tirupati and Paloma are now called Kirtan Classic. Our designation 23 B had inadvertently violated trademark rights of the company Bina. The new name solves the problem. Features and quality of the harmoniums remain the same of course!

Overview of our harmoniums.
Overview of our special offers including several other harmoniums.


2. Christmas Sale - CDs & DVDs with 50% Discount
- Special Offer  -

Still looking for a Christmas gift? Browse our assortment of CDs and DVDs! You get them with 50% discount until December 24th!


Classical Indian music CDs provide listening pleasure for discerning art lovers and are also used for meditation, nada yoga and to support dosha balancing in ayurveda. Popular instruments are sitar, sarod, bamboo flute, santoor and tabla. In India the human voice is considered the noblest instrument and the origin of all music. Therefore, we offer a wide range of vocal music from female and male soloists as well. In addition to classical Indian music, we offer CDs with a wealth of other styles - from fusion and world music through bhajans, thumri and ghazal, mantras, qawwali and regional folk to film music. An overview of all CD categories is available here.

DVDsThe essence of Indian music is improvisation, making each concert new and unique. Films convey much more of the flavour and spontaneity of a live concert than CDs. In addition, they are also perfect study material for advanced playing techniques. An overview of our live concert video DVDs with sitar, sarod, vocal, bamboo flute, santur, slide guitar and violin is available here.

And the best part: Any order that reaches us until December 24th gets 50% discount! Get your favourite CDs or DVDs - and pay only half the regular price! This special offer is valid for all CDs and DVDs, except of those listed as teaching material in our section Learning & Practice. And it is only valid as long as stock lasts. We do not order CDs and DVDs any more - what's gone is gone ...


3. Harmonium Purchase Guide (2/6) – Sound & Feel
- 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.

Tirupati StandardSound is the essence of any musical instrument. The instrument speaks to us with its sound. All other purchase criteria are ultimately secondary. Only when you really like the sound of a harmonium, when it pleases your ears, touches your heart, and you feel carried by it, will you be inspired to play it as much as possible. And only when you play your harmonium as much as possible you develop a deep connection, so that you become more and more familiar and free with it. However, personal tonal preferences differ considerably. What some people describe as warm and soft or brilliant and bright may seem muffled and dull or sharp and shrill to others. THE good sound as such does not exist! Only YOU can decide which sound appeals to you and touches you most!

Sometimes it's easy to find out your personal sound preference. You hear a harmonium somewhere and are so enchanted by it, that you immediately know: That is exactly how your harmonium must sound! But sometimes it is a longer process. Maybe you still lack listening experience and you develop your own taste over time by comparative listening. Or you have an idea of the perfect sound in your mind, but you don't find it anywhere in reality. Anyway, ideally you should listen to a harmonium yourself before buying it. That's the only way you can be sure that its sound is appealing and inspiring for you. Recordings are only partially helpful – the required audio technology chain distorts the natural sound too much. And verbal descriptions are far too vague to be reliable. In our shop in Berlin (and at some of our retail partners) you can therefore check out harmoniums to your heart's content - we have (almost) always a wide range of different harmoniums in stock for testing and comparing. Maybe you can also try a harmonium of a friend, in a harmonium workshop or during a mantra singing event. The more listening experience you get, the better you will know what you want.

Paloma Premium

After the sound, the feel is the most important criterion in choosing a harmonium. Can you sit comfortably with the instrument? Can you pump the bellows with a simple natural movement? How do the keys react to your touch? The texture of the surfaces and the instrument's look can also matter. You will only look forward to playing your harmonium when you're at ease with it. The feel, just like the sound, can not really be represented in an online shop. You need to experience it yourself, hands on with your prospective harmonium. And only YOU can decide which instrument feels good and which one doesn't. The feel is another strong argument for getting your harmonium where you can directly compare several different models with one another.

Such places are rare, though. Buying online is often a more feasible option. It is risk-free when you get it from a shop in the European Union (EU). EU laws grant you the right of revoking any online purchase within 14 days after receiving the instrument. I.e. you can try a harmonium for 2 weeks at home and you can simply return it afterwards without giving any reason. You just have to pay the return shipping cost in that case. In order to save even that expense (and the hassle of handling a harmonium return shipment), you could select a model on which you already had a chance to play somewhere and which kind of suited you. On request a reputable dealer will also support you with good advice and extensive information. That can help a lot in selecting a  harmonium model which is likely right for you. The 14 day trial period is a major advantage of online orders within the EU, of course. You never have that much time in any store. And maybe you just need a few days to relate to the new harmonium and to find out if it's really to become YOUR harmonium...!

Overview of our regular harmoniums.
Overview of our special offers including several other harmoniums.


4. Craft & Art in Bhakti Music (2) – Respect for Tradition
- Contribution by Manish Vyas -

Singing mantras together is a part of Bhakti yoga, the Indian path of devotion. Today, you can experience Bhakti music outside traditional temples in public concerts, at festivals, on the internet and on CDs. Some Bhakti musicians have become world-famous stars and many others follow in their footsteps. What musical skills are required of a Bhakti musician? Is Bhakti music a form of art? We have asked Bhakti musicians to address these issues. Manish Vyas is a singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and teacher. He has been learning traditional Indian music since his youth, has played with Prem Joshua, Satyaa & Pari and many others, and has released more than a dozen of his own CDs, including recordings of mantra music and healing sounds. 

Manish Vyas

A mantra is a sacred text. It carries a particular vibration. it carries a certain message or a deeper meaning. it is highly delicate matter. A lot of inner journey must have happened before someone created these texts. It is not just a combination of words. It is a call to the higher energy, divine energy. Whenever a mantra was created, it was created for a certain purpose. its sacredness lies in its purpose. So when a musician composes a mantra, he/she should be immensely grateful to the sacred text. In fact it is a privilege of him/her to be allowed to work with these sacred texts. A mantra does not need a musician, a musician needs the mantra. A mantra is complete without music or musician. Keeping this in mind, a musician should understand the meaning, the depth, the delicacy and the purity of a mantra and accordingly create a melody for it.

Obviously, a mantra is an eastern text so the music without any doubt, should carry the eastern flavour. It is not a cut paste job, just to create a melody and then simply paste a mantra o top of it, sometimes even squeeze the mantra into a melody forcibly. No, it does not work like that. It is like singing flamenco songs but in Indian raga style. A tradition needs to be respected. Just because nobody says anything, one cannot take too much liberty in creation. It is an insult in the name of creativity. Creativity is when something becomes beautiful, not ugly. In short, a mantra needs to carry that authenticity of the indian music. it should reflect the roots of the sacred text. One has to absorb some flavours of this ancient tradition even before thinking of composing a mantra. It has to become part of one’s inner system. A rock an roll melody pasted on a mantra simply does not work, it just does not go together. It is like eating pasta with dal.

A mantra is an invocation so when starting to make a melody for a mantra, the musicians should innovate the energy of the mantra, its meaning and the depth of wisdom or the message that it carries. Then through his melody, he should be able to carry, maintain, sustain and convey that same depth to the listener. There has to be a strong connection between the sacred text and the melody of it and it should carry the genuine flavour of the east. It is a responsible job for a musician to sustain that piousness of the sacred text in his composition. No matter how different elements he uses in his music, that sacredness should remain untouched and in fact  should enhance through the music, so that it can go deeper and do its work, so that it can serve the purpose for which the mantra was created.

Manish Vyas' website.
Shivoham by Manish Vyas.


5. Girija Devi – Queen of Thumri
- Obituary by Ashis Paul -

II could not believe my eyes when I saw the message 'Girija Devi is no more' on 24th October in my whatsapp. A few days before her sad demise, I was accompanying tabla with her in her class in the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata, where she was guru till her last breath. On that day she was giving an interview, demonstrating how the notes are associated with our feelings and how we should be careful in using them. This strengthened my belief that the notes in music are not merely some sound, rather each note has something to say.

Girija DeviGirija Devi, popularly known as 'Appaji' was born in 1929 in a small village in Northern India. When she was two years old, her family shifted to Varanasi. She was initiated into music by her father. When she was four, she started taking lessons from sarangi player Sarju Prasad Mishra. Later on she continued to learn from Chand Mishra. During her childhood she led a tomboyish routine. For instance, her landowner father Ramdeo Rai taught the kid how to fence and ride horses — unusual for little girls in India to learn even today.

In her younger years Girija Devi went through a very difficult time. Her marriage to an art-loving businessman at age 15 led the budding vocalist to face strong opposition from her family, forcing her to take a break from music. “Unfortunately, apart from my father, the rest of my family was not very supportive", she would recount. “My mother, who became one of my biggest fans later in her life, could not understand why I was wasting so much time on something as inconsequential." Nevertheless, her husband Madhusudan Jain, with a flair for performing arts and literature, supported her. However, as Girija Devi puts it mildly and cryptically, “I soon felt the strains and demands of domestic life interfering with my practice.” Even so, she managed to swim against the tide.

Girija Devi was gifted with a resonating magical voice that captivated the refined listeners of North Indian classical music for generations. Her key part in popularising and raising the profile of thumri, a North Indian light classical vocal form, gave her the appellation 'thumri queen'. Thumri is based on the romantic-devotional literature. The text is usually derived from the Radha-Krishna theme and is of primary importance. The words are strictly adhered to, and the singer attempts to interpret them with melodic improvisations. Groomed in the Benaras and Seniya traditions, Girija Devi was celebrated for her extensive collection of rare thumri compositions. The best in her came out when she performed in a particular thumri style known as purabi ang. Her renditions of semi classical forms like kajri, chaiti and holi also mesmerised the connoisseurs. Her achievements were honoured with some of the highest awards for Indian artists, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2010 and the Padma Vibhushan of the government of India in 2016.

Studio recordings of Girija Devi.
Girija Devi live with flutist Ronu Majumdar.


6. How to Make (Indian) Music? (10) – Sacred Space
- Quote by Sofia Gubaidulina -

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

Sofia Gubaidulina

Life demands so much from a human being, that sometimes one does not have the right to advance into that sacred space of music. E.g. I forbid myself composing at times when I am busy with my income tax statement. On such a day I prohibit myself to touch the music. A sacred and shiny thing must remain sacred. It may not be turned into an everyday matter.

Sofia Gubaidulina (* 1931) is a leading contemporary composer. The quote is taken from the member's journal 03-2017 of GEMA, the German composers' and music authors' association.


7. Workshops - December to February
- Scene Info -

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

 15.12.-17.12. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Juergen Wade
05.01.-07.01. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Michael Bier
02.02.-04.02. OBERLAHR / WESTERWALD: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Marco Buescher
09.02.-11.02. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Beginner's Seminar with Juergen Wade
16.02.-18.02. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Intermediate Seminar with Juergen Wade


8. Concerts - December to February
- Scene Info -

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

16.12. MÜNCHEN: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
17.12. KIEL: Ashraf Sharif Khan - Sitar
18.12. LÜBECK: Ashraf Sharif Khan - Sitar
22.12. A - INNSBRUCK: Indian Air - Sitar Diaries
17.01. ANSBACH: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
18.01. LUDWIGSBURG: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
19.01. MERZHAUSEN: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
20.01. NECKARSGEMÜND: Pulsar Trio - Sitar, Piano, Drums
20.01. STUTTGART: Subramania Siva - Carnatic Flute
20.01. BAD SALZSCHLIRF / FULDA: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
21.01. STUTTGART: Subramania Siva - Carnatic Flute
27.01. EDERMÜNDE: Sundaram - Kirtan
23.02. ÜBERLINGEN: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
23.02. WALLERFANGEN: Sundaram - Kirtan

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