Newsletter September / October 2012

1. New Harmonium - DMS Kirtan D 32
- New in our Assortment -

Harmoniums are becoming ever more popular. Therefore we have added an exciting new model to our assortment. The DMS Kirtan harmonium is a particularly small, lightweight and robust instrument with a powerful sound rich in overtones. It is ideal for travelling, to accompany kirtan and other group singing and for rhythmical play. The light weight and small dimensions are achieved without any cumbersome and delicate folding mechanisms.

The 32 keys give a range of two and 2/3 octaves, starting from low F - a little less than full sized harmoniums, but covering the melodic range of all commonly used mantras and kirtans. If placed on the ground, the tilted position of the instruments keyboard is construction related due to the missing bottom box and takes some getting used to. Sitting cross-legged, however, you can lean the instrument against your legs, causing the keyboard to take a horizontal position close to the body. By means of a shoulder strap and suspension rings affixed to the instrument, the DMS Kirtan harmonium can also be played while standing up.

Each note is fitted with two reeds in middle and low octave (male / bass). The two reeds can not be used separately, though, thus the DMS Kirtan harmonium does not have any register stops. The back bellows open to the top. They fold out and fill themselves automatically when unlocked. You just need to pull them towards yourself for playing - always against a little resistence, though. Inherently, the inner bellows of the DMS Kirtan harmonium are considerably smaller than those in full sized harmoniums, resulting in a slightly shorter "breath". Therefore a little more pumping of the outer bellows is required for playing chords or producing a high volume. The main bellows open to the bottom and have removable springs for adjusting the air pressure.

Delhi Musical Stores (in short DMS) is quite a big harmonium manufacturer and instrument dealer in Delhi. The business was founded in 1970 and has been run in second generation by Inderpal Singh (alias Inni) since the 1990s. Inni Singh is an accomplished singer and tabla player himself. Additionally, he plays sitar and harmonium and runs a digital recording studio. Against this background he connects within DMS ancient craft tradition with modern quality management and technical innovations. DMS has become a partner of India Instruments in 2012.

  • DMS Kirtan Harmonium - 390,- € (incl. bag and 19% VAT, plus 6.90 Euros shipping within Germany / 19.90 within Europe)
    Pictures and more info.

Overview of all our harmonium models

Recommended top of the line compact harmonium Paloma Companion


2. Concert Life in Calcutta (4/5) - KMDA Garfa Music Festival
- Travel Report by Yogendra -

In February 2012, Yogendra had the opportunity to experience classical concert life in the Bengali music metropolis Calcutta. He tells of the many facets of the current scene in a five-part series.

In the Indian state of West Bengal the 2011 change of power, after 34 years of Communist government, is also noticeable in the cultural life of the state's capital Calcutta. After his inauguration, new Sports Minister Madan Mitra initiated various free music events in culturally underserved neighborhoods. One of them was organised by the Kolkata Municipal Development Authority (KMDA) in the mostly residential neighborhood Garfa in a park without official address. In order to find the way there, I have made an appointment with sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee, one of the soloists of the festival. After our meeting was rescheduled several times according to the current traffic situation, I finally land next to Purbayan in the back seat of his car. In front of me as a passenger sits Simon Broughton, editor of the British world music magazine Songlines, an acquaintance of Purbayan, presently in Calcutta because of an international festival with Sufi music and some research on traditional music in rural Bengal.

The Garfa Festival emerges as a major local event, with whole streets decorated lavishly and full of blaring loudspeakers. As VIPs, we are ushered through the cordons onto the festival site and drive right to the backstage area - set in the living room of one the organizers in the house right behind the huge marquee. Tabla accompanist Anubrata Chatterjee, son of tabla master Anindo Chatterjee, is already waiting inside. I last met him as a chubby teenager on a visit to Anindo's house back in the 1990s, and need some time to recognize him in his stunning stylish appearance with a highly polished bald head, earring, goatee and shimmering light blue kurta

After small talk, tea and coffee, the musicians are needed for the soundcheck and Simon and me are guided to our seats through long corridors lined with red carpets. As foreign entourage of the artists we land on one of the comfortable sofas in the exclusive celebrity zone right in front of the meter-high stage (and the equally high speaker towers). In contrast to us, the common Indian music lover must be content with one of about 4000 simple plastic chairs further at the rear. While these chairs are slowly filling, we two palefaces remain all alone in the celebrity zone - until one of the organizers discovers us and and grabs the opportunity of connecting to the alleged VIPs. During the obligatory business card exchange, we learn about the afternoon's programme (Tagore songs), his main job (railroad official) and his own musical talents (bathroom singer). Meanwhile, the soundcheck takes place on the stage behind closed curtains: apparently an attempt of making Purbayan's sitar sound as distorted as an electric guitar and bringing the volume up to a level that moves music perception from the numbed ears down to the intestines.

After endless opening rituals with ever new speeches, lighted oil lamps, chanted mantras and presented flower garlands, the curtain finally opens and the show begins. The sound people have done an impressive job: After a few minutes I realize that I can only enjoy the music without pain with my fingers pressed firmly onto my ears. Artistically however, Purbayan's playing is a real treat. He performs the challenging raga Puriya uncompromising in all its austere beauty in a compact alap and jor. And in the gat, he excels together with Anubrata with rhythmic finesse and spectacular runs. Purbayan is really an exceptional artist, blessed with highest gifts, whose charisma, musicality and absolute technical mastery will certainly remain a major factor of the Indian classical music scene in the coming decades. After the main raga in classical purity, Purbayan closes with a pleasing Kirwani, including some lines of a popular Bengali song. A joyous murmur instantly goes through the tent - with this small gesture Purbayan has also won the hearts of all those without knowledge of the intricacies of the raga tradition. An encore, however, is not required, because the great vocalist Rashid Khan, next on the agenda, is already waiting backstage for his appearance.

I prefer to chill out for the rest of the evening with Purbayan, Anubrata and Simon to reflect on the performance. The atmosphere is relaxed and laid-back and the delicious food in an elegant Chinese restaurant contributes nicely. The musicians had problems with the sound, too, but they are used to such situations and know how to deal with them. A performance for a few thousand people is a normal routine for them - at least when it is not at one of the really important music festivals, where artists, critics and connoisseurs meet and the quality of a performance can set the course of a career. For me it is a proof of the vitality of classical Indian music that not only large festivals such as Dover Lane draw four- or five-digit crowds, but also neighborhood events like the KMDA Garfa. Apparently, the raga tradition flourishes not only in the small esoteric circles of a few insiders, but also reaches a wider public of the growing educated middle class. And it can even be used to demonstrate the cultural claims of a new political era.


3. The Young Masters (4/8) - Jayateerth Mevundi
- Background Reportage by Arunabha Deb -

In the first edition of the new Indian music, dance and theater magazine Avantika (published in January 2012), music journalist Arunabha Deb wrote about the new generation of great Hindustani classical musicians aged between 30 and 40. We present his article with an introduction and seven portraits of musicians as a series in eight parts.

Jayateerth Mevundi (38), Hubli / Karnataka, Singer of the Kirana Gharana

Last year's Dover Lane Festival witnessed a rare phenomenon. A lanky young man from Hubli-Dharwad (that square inch of ivory in northern Karnatak tha never ceases to produce brilliant vocalists) was invited to sing at the festival for the second year in a row. Apart from top maestros (and Kaushiki Desikan), almost no other artist is accorded this honour that the organisers of Dover Lane reserved for Jayateerth Mevundi. And they foudn vindication in a special guest in the first row: Pandit Jasraj dropped in especially to listen to Jayateerth and, when the youngster finished his rendition of Puriya Kalyan, gave him a standing ovation.

But Jayateerth is no stranger to special attention. His life had hit rock bottom in the early Nineties: His singing career was not taking off and he was finding it hard to make ends meet in Hubli. Eventually, he took a job as a tanpura player with All India Radio, Goa, and left his hometown. It was during his tenure in Goa that he received the phone call that changed his life. The station director summoned him to say that there was a call for him from Pune. It was Pandit Bhimsen Joshi who was on the line. The maestro had heard reports of Jayateerth's recitals and wanted him to perform at the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsava that year (a festival that Joshi orgnised in the memory of his guru, Pandit Sawai Gandharva). Jayateerth was given a forty-minute slot, enough time for him to sing a Yaman that sent the audience into a tizzy. They would not let him go after one piece and hollered for more. He gave them a Bahar, but they wanted more still. Joshi then requested him to sing a Kannada bhajan - a trademark of Hubli-Dharwad, their common place of birth. Later, Joshi was to say on several occaisons that the future of the Kirana Gharana was safe in Jayatheerth's hands.

To his credit, Jayateerth has lived up to that promise. That he is the most prominent young face of the Kirana Gharana is a foregone conclusion; it would not be an exaggeration to say that he is the leading male vocalist of his generation. He has left his AIR job and is back at Hubli. "I find a lot more peace here," he says, "there is no better place to focus on my music and do my riayz." He has no intentions of moving to a bigger town. And why should he? Organisers from across the country are seeking him out from his quiet haven; his decision to remain there has not come at a professional price. He has regular recitals in Delhi and in Kolkata. And as for Maharashtra and northern Karnataka, he has a recital almost every day in peak season.


4. Concert Calendar - October / November
- Scene Info -

02.10. MUNICH: BHAJAN & Abhay Sopori - Santoor
05.10. REGENSBURG: BHAJAN & Abhay Sopori - Santoor
06.10. STUTTGART: JAYALAKSMI Sekhar - Saraswati Vina
07.10. NL - Aldtsjerk-Oudkerk: Faiyaz KHAN, IMRAN KHAN & HEIKO Dijker - Tabla
07.10. BONN: Ashim CHOWDHURY - Sitar
13.10. STUTTGART: Subroto Roy CHOWDHURY - Sitar
14.10. STUTTGART: Subroto Roy CHOWDHURY - Sitar
14.10. B - BRUSSELS: GAURI GUHA - Vocal
16.10. B - BRUSSELS: Harsh Wardhan - Bansuri
16.10. B - BRUSSELS: Nirupama & RAJENDRA - Bharatanatyam and Kathak
19.10. B - BRUSSELS: MITA NAG - Sitar
20.10. STUTTGART: ANITA Speedwagon - Bharatanatyam dance
25.10. NEUSTADT: MITA NAG - Sitar
27.10. WILDEMANN / HARZ: Yogendra - Sitar
27.10. STUTTGART: MITA NAG - Sitar
28.10. STUTTGART: MITA NAG - Sitar
01.11. BERLIN: Debashree Das - Vocal & SEBASTIAN DREYER - Sitar
01.11. LUDWIGSHAFEN: INDIGO MASALA - Acoustic Asian World Fusion
03.11. BERLIN: Debashree Das - Vocal & SEBASTIAN DREYER - Sitar
10.11. STUTTGART: MONALISA GHOSH & Prajna PRATISTHITA Mohanty - Odissi dance
11.11. STUTTGART: MONALISA GHOSH & Prajna PRATISTHITA Mohanty - Odissi dance
11.11. CH - OBERWIL: Debashree DAS - Vocal & SEBASTIAN DREYER - Sitar
16.11. CH - BASEL: KEN ZUCKERMAN - Sarod & Swapan Chaudhuri - tabla
17.11. NUREMBERG: Rakesh Chaurasia - Bansuri
18.11. NL - AMSTERDAM: LAVANYA Ananth - Bharatanatyam dance
24.11. STUTTGART: SOHINI DABNAT - Kathak dance
25.11. STUTTGART: SOHINI DABNAT - Kathak dance
27.11. DK - Copenhagen: PRAKASH SONTAKKE - Vocal & FIGURA ENSEMBLE

For more detailed information, place and time as well as additional dates for 2012 check here


5. Workshops - Instrumental, Vocal & Nada-Yoga
- Scene Info -

We would like to recommend some interesting workshops in the coming weeks. Detailed info as well as further offers can be found the workshop page of our website's network section.

* 12. - 14.10. Saarbrucken: SITAR with YOGENDRA
Intensive workshop with live tabla accompaniment for advanced musicians and for beginners with basic experience. Focus will be on technical skills, melody phrases, rhythm patterns and a composition with complex variations. Improvisation and the sheer joy of playing will have their place as well.

* 15. - 18.10. Brussels: CLASSICAL BANSURI with HARSH WARDHAN
Harsh Wardhan is a famous bansuri player from New Delhi and tours regularly in India and in Europe. His pedagogy is based upon a sophisticated concept for finger placement. Harsh is also one of the best Indian bansuri makers today.

* 28.10. - 4.11. Bad Meinberg: Basic training in Nada Yoga with Anne-Careen Engel
Nada Yoga uses sound, breath, voice and rhythm to influence the prana energy in the body. Ancient knowledge is used about sound (Nada), energy lines (Nadis), body centres (Chakras) and "Nada Brahma", the world as sound. Nada Yoga is the oldest existing path of yoga.

* 16. - 22.11. Basel: 27th Annual Indian Music Seminar of the Ali Akbar College of Music - Switzerland
Parallel intensive Workshops for beginners and advanced musicians - instrumental and vocal with Ken Zuckerman and Daniel Bradley as well as tabla with Swapan Chaudhuri and Henry Nagelberg. Diverse introductory classes on 18.11.. Internationally renowned teachers.

6. Indian Classical Music (5/7) - Performers: Masters of Raga
- Background Info by Yogendra -

Indian classical music and its instruments are the basis for the work of India Instruments. But what's so special about this tradition? In a 7-part series by Yogendra, we are giving an introduction for beginners.

Indian Classical Music (5/7) - Performers: Masters of Raga

In the 20th Century instrumental virtuosos became big stars of Indian classical music. Their newly developed forms have a deep impact on all active musicians today. Some of these pioneers are presented below.

Ravi Shankar - Pioneer in the West
Sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar (* 1920) already had the vision of bringing Indian music to the West as a teenager. After his apprenticeship with veteran Allauddin Khan in the 1950s, he led the orchestra of All India Radio, wrote film scores for academy award-winning director Satyajit Ray, and began to give concerts in Europe and North America and to work with jazz musicians. Thanks to his empathy, his creativity and communicative talent Ravi Shankar was able to inspire ever-widening audiences for his music. In the 1960s he reached popstar status through the interaction with famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin, as a teacher of Beatles-member George Harrison and his appearance at the legendary Woodstock festival. Later, he focused more on teaching, classical concerts and composing - including for the academy award-winning film Gandhi, and in cooperation with minimal music composer Philip Glass. Today the sound of his is the epitome of Indian music for many Western ears.

Vilayat Khan - Singing Sitar
While Ravi Shankar was busy with new creative ideas and making Indian music popular around the world, Vilayat Khan (1928 - 2004) remained entirely within the framework of the tradition and revolutionized the sitar, so to speak from the inside out. He came from an old musical dynasty, but he lost his father at an early stage. Although he had a solid classical music education from childhood, a young man ha thus also enjoyed the freedom to develop a very distinctive personal style. Like no one else before him Vilayat Khan succeeded in making his sitar sing with his crystal clear sound. He had numerous disciples and imitators and was formative for almost all sitarists after him. In the tradition of Vilayat Khan in a strict sense today are his brother Imrat Khan, his sons Nishat and Irshad Khan, Vilayat Khan's own sons Shujaat and Hidayat Khan, his cousin Rais Khan and Shahid Parvez and Budhaditya Mukherjee.

Nikhil Banerjee - Perfect Form
Like Vilayat Khan the sitarist Nikhil Banerjee (1931 - 1986) was a representative of pure Indian classical music. But he was also a student of Allauddin Khan, the unconventional, experimental old master, and received considerable imnspiration from him to develop his own style. Nikhil Banerjee has integrated the vocal style of playing and the fast runs of Vilayat Khan as well as the rhythmic subtlety of Ravi Shankar and combined the meditative raga development and rigorous form of dhrupad with the elegance and creativity of khyal and the romantic emotions of thumri. This synthesis is regarded by many today as a perfect form and Nikhil Banerjee as the greatest sitar master of the last century. Influenced by his sound aesthetic and his sense of form today are primarily the sitarists Kushal Das, Partha Bose, Partha Chatterjee and his son Purbayan Chatterjee.

Ali Akbar Khan - Depths of the Soul
As the son of veteran Allauddin Khan, the life of Ali Akbar Khan (1922 - 2009) was filled with music practically from birth. The eruptive energy and crystal clarity of his playing on the fretless lute sarod drew people into a hypnotic vortex that touched the deepest spaces of the soul. The violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin simply considered him the greatest musician in the world. Although Ali Akbar Khan wrote film scores and played with jazz musicians, he always remained deeply rooted in and true to Indian classical music. In the 1960s, he settled in California, and devoted much of his later life to the mission of passing on his music to students from around the world. Today glimpses of his sarod playing can be heard from his sons Aashish and Alam Khan and musicians like Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar or Ranajit Sengupta.

Amjad Ali Khan - Courtly Elegance
Apart from Ali Akbar Khan it was mainly Amjad Ali Khan (b. 1945) who coined sarod playing in recent decades. He comes from an old family of court musicians, that has contributed significantly to the development of the modern sarod. Flawless technique and compelling elegance are the hallmarks of his style. Amjad Ali Khan's sons Amaan and Ayaan are continuing the family tradition into the next generation.

Hariprasad Chaurasia - Krishna's Flute
Thanks to Hariprasad Chaurasia (* 1938) the bamboo flute bansuri, formerly just a folk instrument, is now a fully recognized classical solo instrument. Using new blowing techniques on his large, deep bansuri he has been able to combine the khyal vocal style with the rhythmic complexity of the dhrupad style jor and jhala. That way he has created a unique complex synthesis. Moreover, Hariprasad Chaurasia was also active as a flutist and composer for numerous Bollywood movies and has played with great musicians from around the world in fusion projects, including John McLaughlin and Jan Garbarek. Hariprasad's playing with its mellifluous sound, groovy rhythms and melodic complexity is perhaps the most accessible form of Indian classical music for a larger public. A whole generation of bansuri performers are carrying on his ideas today, e.g. Rakesh Chaurasia, Rupak Kulkarni, Ronu Mazumdar, Nityanand Haldipur and Raghunath Seth.

Shivkumar Sharma - Scent of Kashmir
The shimmering sound cascades of the Indian dulcimer santoor are originally associated with the pure clarity of folk music of the mountains in the northern Indian state Kashmir. Shivkumar Sharma (* 1938) succeeded in adopting the santoor for classical ragas by introducing new playing techniques. The santoor's pleasing sound speaks to the heart and its various rhythmic possibilities make for exciting complexity. In addition to his classical career Shivkumar Sharma was also successful together with Hariprasad Chaurasia as duo Shiv-Hari in numerous Bollywood films. His son Rahul and Ulhas Bapat, Bhajan Sopori and Satish Vyas today are renowned santoor masters.

Bismillah Khan - Call of Varanasi
The shahnai player Bismillah Khan (1916 - 2006) was one of the most charismatic figures of Indian classical music. Although a devout Muslim, he spent most of his life in Varanasi, the holy city of the Hindus on the banks of the river Ganges where he took active part in the unique cultural life. In his person and in his at the same time majestic and mellow music Bismillah Khan embodied two things simultaneously: the spirit of Varanasi and the ideal of peaceful coexistence of religions based on a deep spirituality. Well-known shahnai performers today are Daya Shankar and Ali Ahmed Hussain.

Zakir Hussain - Tabla Magic
Traditonally, the tabla is only an accompanying instrument - but in the hands of Zakir Hussain (* 1951), it steals the show of many soloists and becomes the secret star on stage. After he had learned tabla from an early age with his father Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain went to the USA when he was still a teenager. There he played in the legendary fusion group Shakti, along with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar. In this and many other groundbreaking world music projects, Zakir Hussain proved himself both as an open-minded, creative composer and improviser and as brilliant entertainer. His charisma, his infectious enthusiasm and his richness of tonal nuances have influenced a whole generation of tabla players. Today, it is hard to find any tabla player who was not influenced by Zakir Hussain.

CDs with all these artists and many others are available at India Instruments

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