Newsletter September / October 2014


1. Special Offers - Sitars, Tanpuras, etc.
2. Sound Samples - Sitars
3. Extended Playing Techniques - Shrutiboxes
4. The Divine Gift - Mandolin Srinivas
5. Yoga & Music at the Feet of the Himalayas (2/3) - Training in Rudraprayag
6. Sitar Fusion from Germanistan (6/6) - Indigo Masala
7. Workshops - October to December
8. Concerts - October & November

1. Special Offers - Sitars, Tanpuras, etc.
- New Items -

Bargains and rarities, curiosities and treasures - in our special offers you can find all the things that we do not sell as part of our regular assortment in the online catalogue. We just got some very interesting second-hand instruments recently - check them out:


Sonderangebot Sitar

Seasoned Beginner's Sitar G. S. Sharma 690,- Euro

Beautiful Old Benares Sitar 890.- Euros

Noble Ravi Shankar Sitar Kanailal & Brother 1790.- Euros

Noble Old Concert Sitar Rikhi Ram 1.990,- Euro


Sonderangebot Tanpura

Sur Tanpura with Light Varnish Stains 390,- Euro

Compact Male Tanpura Mayekar 560,- Euro

Beautiful Female Tanpura Kanailal & Brother 990,- Euro



Sonderangebot Harmonium

Travel Harmonium Monoj Kumar Sardar 590.- Euros




Sonderangebot Tablaset

Ghumat Clay Drum with Skin Head 119,- Euro

Tabla Fibreglass Case Black 150,- Euro

Small Light Thavil 190,- Euro

Tabla Set Mumbai 320,- Euro

An overview of these and other special offers can be found here. Enjoy browsing! And contact us quickly if you are interested in anything - first come, first serve...

2. Sound Samples - Sitars
- New on our Website -

Musical instruments must not only look good. Most important is a good sound. Unfortunately, not everyone can make it to our shop in Berlin and try out our instruments on site. Therefore, we gradually create sound samples of our instruments. We try not to impress with virtuoso performances, but to bring across the sound of each instrument as directly and naturally as possible.

Sitar MKS deluxe New on our website are sound samples of most sitars from our assortment. They are tuned to the common tonic c sharp. First you just hear the open strings. Then it goes all the way down from the middle tonic to the lowest note, straight on the frets, then all the way up to the highest note and finally back to the tonic. Like that you get an idea of ??the sound of the instrument in all registers. The recordings can be found at the bottom of the pages of the instruments. An overview of all sitar sound examples is available here.

For most of our tanpuras sound examples have already been available for some time. An overview is available here.

Are the sound samples helpful? For which other instruments would you like sound examples? We appreciate your feedback!

3. Extended Playing Techniques - Shrutiboxes
-Tipps & Tricks -

Shrutiboxes are among the most popular instruments in our assortment. Even without musical knowledge or special skills, you can create a vivid, warm, resonant carpet of sound for meditation, singing or storytelling with them immediately. Effortlessly and without electrical equipment, an almost magical sound space opens up. Professional  musicians appreciate the uncomplicated yet highly effective use of shrutiboxes, too, e.g. to accompany overtone singing, modal music with voices and instruments, chants and kirtans and music therapy. However, creative musicians have recently developed extended playing techniques, which go far beyond using the shrutibox just as a simple drone...

Shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar Groß align=

TONIC DRONE WITH ADDED COLOURS - Using a shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar large,   French singer Mood (Maude Trutet) adds extra notes to a constant drone and thereby creates a sound texture with dazzling chord colours. It is perfect support for the different moods of her expressive modal vocal improvisation, which are freely inspired by Indian vocal styles.

MELODY WITH LOOP - Argentinean percussionist Pablo la Porta initially builds up a multi-layered rhythm pattern with a loop machine, using a bowl of water, a kalimba, and the F sharp of a shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar large.   He then adds long-held single notes of the shrutibox to create a solemn melody line.

Shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar Medium

GROOVY SHRUTI - American guitarist Lee Holland turns a shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar medium   into a groovy rhythm instrument. By tapping the open lever side he produces subtle dynamic pulses in the drone. Opening additional levers in rhythm divides the pulses into bars. And knocking on the wooden frame with a guitar fingerpick provides percussive sharpness.


Shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar Triple

SONG ACCOMPAINMENT WITH RUDIMENTARY CHORDS - Arnulf the Schandmaul, an Austrian bard and herald of the medieval scene, opens four tone levers for two matching rudimentary chords on a three-octave shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar triple.   With two fingers he mutes one chord or the other. Like that he can switch quickly and smoothly back and forth between the two chords and use them as a simple chord accompaniment for his singing.

COMPLEX ACCOMPANIMENT - In a tribute to experimental singer and minimal-music composer Meredith Monk, French singer Mood uses a three-octave shrutibox Monoj Kumar Sardar triple.  In the beginning she creates rhythmic pulses by covering air holes with her fingers.  Then she plays the sung melody in unison on the shrutibox. She moves on to accompanying herself with constantly changing chords. By fully exploring the large tonal range of the triple shrutibox she effectively supports the highly differentiated and dramatic twists and turns of her singing.

An overview of all shrutiboxes used in these inspiring examples, and also several other models, is available here.

4. The Divine Gift - Mandolin Srinivas
Obituary by Yogendra -

U. Srinivas is dead. Out of the blue, the immensely popular South Indian master of the mandolin, also known as Mandolin Srinivas, passed away in Chennai on September 19th, at the age of only 45 years. After successfully completing a liver transplantation Srinivas was apparently recovering,  but a few days later, still in hospital, he caught pneumonia which could not be controlled and led to multiple organ failure. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his deep grief about Srinivas' sudden death, as did fellow musicians Zakir Hussain, Lata Mangeshkar, A.R.Rahman, Shankar Mahadevan and many other Indian celebrities.

U. Srinivas U. Srinivas was born in 1969 in Palakol in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, the son of singer U. Satyanarayana. At the age of six, he started out on his own impulse to play mandolin. His talent was recognised and encouraged early. He received a thorough education in classical South Indian (Carnatic) music from Rudraraju Subbaraju, the teacher of his father. However, he had to develop his technique on the mandolin on his own, as this instrument had never before been used for Carnatic music - his teacher taught him only singing. To be able to articulate the melodic intricacies of Carnatic music, Srinivas waived the traditional double strings of the mandolin and initially played it with only four melody strings. Later he extended the range by adding a fifth string on the bass side and changed over to an electric mandolin. Thus, he created a characteristic sound of great warmth and supplenss.

In 1978, U. Srinivas made his first public appearance; he gave his first Carnatic solo concert in 1981 at the age of 12. Because of his virtuosity, he was hailed as a child prodigy. However, he was initially attacked by orthodox circles for playing a western instrument unsuitable for Carnatic music. But his musical genius and the stunning brilliance of his playing silenced his Indian critics over time. In the West, he got established by a recording titled Magic Mandolin, which was published in 1989 by the renowned Stuttgart based label Chhanda Dhara. Although he presented traditional Carnatic kritis on it, he already showed his openness to other styles back then by taking the great North Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain as one of his accompanists.

U. Srinivas' further musical career was a stunning success story. He became one of the really big stars of Carnatic music and ran his own music school in Chennai. He also played thrilling duets with North Indian musicians and performed with artists from the global jazz and world music scene. Particularly notable was his work in John McLaughlin's group Remember Shakti - where he played since 1997, among others, with his old companion Zakir Hussain. 1998, not even 30 years old, he was awarded the high state medal Padma Shri for his contribution to the arts. It was followed by the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2010.

On a personal level, U. Srinivas has been described as a quiet, friendly and always polite person. But that modest basic attitude did not spare him several blows of fate. He was an ardent follower of the controversial guru Sai Baba - whose death in 2011 plunged him into a serious internal crisis. In 2012  his marriage failed and custody of the only common child went to his wife. He withdrew more and was increasingly struggling with health problems. A long protracted infection made the liver transplantation necessary, whose complications have now cost him his life.

On his website he say: "Music is a divine gift. Whatever you play, it should touch the soul. How does it come? If you enjoy what you play, then you can make others enjoy."  Mandolin Srinivas had dedicated his life to this motto.

Samples of his music:
CD Magic Mandolin from 1989.
Duet and brief interview sequences ith Hindustani guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya from 2007.
Track in the feature film Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts from 2010.


5. Yoga & Music at the Feet of the Himalayas (2/3) - Training in Rudraprayag
Travel Report by Samante Kamaladiwela -

In 2013/14, Samante Kamaladiwela travelled through India, Sri Lanka and Iran to delve deeper into his passion for yoga and music. He shares some special experiences in Uttarakandh, the Indian state at the feet of the Himalayas with the spring of the Ganges, in this three part series.

Leaving Rishikesh I set off into the mountains to Chandrashila, the summit of the Tungnath. In an altitude of 4000 meters I greeted the sun's first rays. Those were unforgettable moments, completely one with the nature surrounding me. A perfect preparation for the upcoming challenges of the 4-week Sivananda Yoga training in the small town of Rudraprayag, a known stopover to many holy places of pilgrimage such as the spring of the Ganges.

The training took place a few kilometres from Rudraprayag in a hotel, quietly and beautifully situated on the Ganges, which is still pure and coloured turquoise there. The tight daily programme started at 6 in the morning with a meditation, followed by the Ganga Arati, a hymn in praise of the Ganges. The following kirtan singing lifted the mood even of those who are not morning persons. Even though kirtan singing might not have been everyone's favourite, it joined everyone together in a joyful and relaxed mood. Hearts opened up. Around 8 am, body and mind were challenged and brought back into harmony by a two-hour practice of yoga asanas (physical exercises). Breakfast afterwards really came in time. After a short break, it was followed by yoga philosophy and study of the Bhagavad Gita, an important spiritual scripture. In the afternoon there was a tea snack and then another asana class, this time with a focus on teaching yoga. Finally it was time for a mildly spicy Indian dinner, followed by a lecture on various topics related to yoga. The day was concluded with another Ganga Arati.

Yoga Rudraprayag Except of one free day per week, this schedule remained the same throughout the four weeks. Its challenge for mind and body was written onto the faces of each of the 50 international participants after a few days. Some of them nearly collapsed because of their inner tension. Surprisingly enough, no one gave up. On the contrary, throughout the weeks a visible transformation happened to everybody. The eyes began to shine, the body became stronger and more flexible and a positive and joyful mood spread all around. After the final exam, the lucky participants scattered all over the world again, to pass on to other people what they had learnt.

Every evening of the first week there was a lecture by Venugopal Goswami, a specialist in wisdom verses from the yoga scripture Srimad Bhagavatam. These lectures were backed by uplifting ragas of his band with tabla, harmonium and bamboo flute. Venugopal Goswami comes from an age old family tradition, which has developed storytelling, poetry, music and philosophy into a spiritual art form. He is a gifted singer who has learnt classical Hindustani music from world famous vocalist Pandit Jasraj. This is noticeable in his singing - his voice sounds soft and strong at the same time. With his melodies he filled the hearts of his listeners with goodness and joy and brought tears to many eyes. His singing was accompanied by the performance of his really good musicians. Especially the tabla player excelled. But the flute player knew very well what he was doing, too - I could tell that much based on my own modest skills on the bansuri by now. These concert events were among my highlights of the training.

However, the most beautiful experience for me was an evening show of the yoga trainees. Different people banded together to present plays, artful yoga poses and musical performances. One of them was a duet of two bansuri flutes by me and my wife. I had the flute from Rishikesh with me, of course, and the idea of the duet with my wife, accompanied by the tanpura app on my mobile phone, had come to me spontaneously (she too had begun playing  flute in Rishikesh). Our flute performance was not rehearsed, so it simply consisted of a few basic tones with an improvised melody to it. It was easy and it was good. We made time stand still for a few minutes and conquered the hearts of the audience by storm. We were both delighted and at the same time amazed at the success of this experiment. It was probably due to the magic sound of this Indian instrument, which never fails to enchant us when we play it.

6. Sitar Fusion from Germanistan (6/6) - Indigo Masala
Background Report by Yogendra -

Ravi Shankar's heirs keep the sitar alive - not only in India but also in Central Europe! It is a little-known fact that sitarists with German roots have already been successful professional performers for decades. They have explored original new ways of combining Indian sounds with other musical styles and have thus contributed substantially to what is known today as world music. The final 6th part of this series tells the story of my own band...

Looking back from today it seems like a small miracle that I came across a sitar in my adolescence. It was the time of  the cold war between the evil communist empire and the free west, and I grew up just next to the iron curtain in a rural area of Northern Germany, on the Western side of the fence. As a teenager in the early 80s I became interested in things Indian, and a record by Ravi Shankar caught my attention. When my yoga teacher brought a sitar into class and played it for relaxation, I had a chance to touch it... I immediately fell in love with it and got hooked for good. It was the beginning of more than 20 years of studying the classical North Indian raga music with renowned master like legendary sarod virtuoso Ali Akbar Khan in California and with sitarist Partha Chatterjee in Calcutta. In 2000 I quit a possible career as an elocution trainer in the German higher education system to devote myself completely to Indian music as a sitarist, teacher of Indian music and importer of Indian musical instruments.

In spring 2005, I met with two other mature musicians to jam together in Berlin. Ravi Srinivasan was an Anglo-Indian tabla player who had been working with me on Indian classical music for some years. He grew up in Malaysia and was trained in Western classical violin in his youth. Later on he discovered his love of jazz and Indian music, learnt tabla with Kamalesh Maitra in Berlin and accompanied classical kathak dance. Together we had done a few experiments combining classical ragas with our own compositions in a trio with bansuri player Joachim Huebner. When Joachim left the band, we invited Susanne Paul, a classically trained cellist with German and Mexican roots. Susanne's musical journey had been through rock and jazz to improvisation and from there to world music projects. The meeting of Susanne, Ravi and me was the birth hour of what was to become Indigo Masala.

Indigo Masala The cooperation of the new trio proved to be highly creative and productive. Within a few months a repertoire of original compositions was developed, combining classical Indian melodic and rhythmic concepts with jazzy harmonies and grooves. By integrating further influences from Latin, Flamenco, Qawwali, East Asian and African music and adding vocals and multicoloured percussion, we tried to create an entirely new music beyond Indo-Jazz, with complex compositions and arrangements, but also with a lot of room for improvisation. After the first small concerts and a demo CD, the fledgling band won a regional competition of the freshly launched German world music competition creole in the fall of 2006. By then the great potential had become clear. The newly created  music was not only artistically challenging, but also enjoyable for a wider public due to its compact and easily accessible forms, varied arrangements and a vibrant stage presence. Thanks to the creole, producer and label owner Markus Brachtendorf became aware of the trio. In 2008 Indigo Masala's debut album Big Gods & Little Animals was released on his label Jigit! Records. The journal Folker called it the hottest record of the year and radio reviews called Indigo Masala spectacular in the truest sense of the word.

After this initial success, however, the development of Indigo Masala became somewhat stalled. In 2009 Susanne Paul left the band and was replaced by 16-year-old youngster Arun Leander, a virtuoso on the Russian button accordion bajan. In the midst of this upheaval the band recorded the second album, Legends of Panipur, with world-jazz percussionist Ramesh Shotham as a guest artist, under difficult external conditions. It came out in 2011, again at Jigit! Records, and got mixed reviews. In addition, it proved extremely difficult to get performance opportunities with decent fees, to be present in the media and to reach out to wider audiences without booking agency, PR professionals or funding. Many promising projects fall apart in the face of such difficulties after a few years. But Indigo Masala kept on going, with over 150 concerts played so far. The fun in our interaction, the great artistic freedom and the enthusiastic audience response helped us master all challenges so far.

Indigo MasalaFor Indigo Masala, sitar fusion means more than just having a sitar play together with instruments outside the Indian tradition. From the outset it was clear that the musicians in the trio should not be limited exclusively to only one function. The sitar, e.g., should not only be a solo melody instrument, but had to be able to play accompaniment as well. However, it is not built for bass lines, riffs or chords and the traditional playing technique is not meant for these functions. Therefore I had to make modifications to the instrument and integrate fingering and plucking techniques from guitar or bass. I changed the tuning of the sympathetic strings from diatonic to chromatic, allowing modulation within a piece without loss of sound, and quick change between pieces in different keys without annoying tuning breaks. My main bridge is slightly curved parallel to the frets and placed in a skewed position, thereby improving the intonation of the lower strings. With additional tricks such as the use of more flexible strings, the cocking of frets and small leather dampers on the inside of the chikari posts, I can now play the lower strings on the frets well into the middle range. That way my sitar playing has gained much more versatility, without having compromised any of the traditional possibilities.

Indigo MasalaNew impulses for the band come from working with guest artists. In recent years, Indigo Masala has performed with Russian gypsy jazz guitarist Alexei Wagner, Berlin jazz veteran Kubi Kubach on double bass, Austrian world jazz trumpeter Paul Schwingenschloegl and kathak dancer Ioanna Srinivasan. The individual development of the band members keeps Indigo Masala fresh and alive, too. Arun Leander gains audibly in maturity year after year; his accordion playing gets ever more dynamic, expressive and sophisticated. My sitar extends more and more beyond Indian conventions. And Ravi Srinivasan has transformed himself from a mere tabla player into a singing and whistling multi-percussionist. His entertaining introductions to our pieces have become more and more interesting and amusing over the years. They have developed into full-fledged stories without any direct relation to our music and replace the holy seriousness of Indian classical music with a spirit of playfulness and childlike wonder. That way, we establish a connection between artists and audience on another level. Spellbound amazement and liberating laughter open people up for a deeper musical experience. Consequently, we call our programme nowadays World Music Stories. Currently we're preparing for a new album, to be released next year for the 10th anniversary of the band. Let's see how things shape up…

Videos of Indigo Masala.
Indigo Masala's  Website (German only).
Audio samples of Indigo Masala's CDs.

With an overall view of the history of sitar fusion from Germanistan one may well marvel at the complexity, creativity, and the success of sitarists with German roots. Let's leave it open whether this has to do with the typical German stereotypes of discipline, inventive genius and meticulousness, or with the great tradition as a nation of poets, philosophers and musicians. Any attempt to explain the phenomenon would eventually just invent a story – and not do justice to the very different personal and artistic biographies of the featured musicians and bands. Nevertheless there are some common characteristics. Sitar fusion is a genuine alternative to the completely commercialised glitz of pop stars and talent shows. It requires years of daily hard work for mastering a difficult instrument, dedication and passion for the music and the courage to remain true to oneself. Incredibly difficult - and yet actually very simple.

8. Workshops - October to December
- 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.

17.10. - 19.10. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium learning seminar with Darshini Devi
23.10. - 24.10. BERLIN: Classical Music of North India with Rupak Kulkarni
25.10. - 01.11. BAD HERRENALB (near Karlsruhe): Meditative Music Retreat II with Partho Sarothy & Ashis Paul
02.11. - 05.11. OBERLAHR / WESTERWALD: Harmonium learning seminar with Govinda Roth
09.11. - 14.11. OBERLAHR / WESTERWALD: Harmonium advanced seminar with Govinda Roth
09.11. - 11.11. CH - BASEL: Kathak & Music
13.11. - 14.11. CH - CHIASSO: Kathak & Music
17.11. - 23.11. CH - BASEL: Intensive Instrumental and Vocal Seminar with Ken Zuckerman
17.11. - 23.11. CH - BASEL: Intensive Tabla Seminar with Swapan Chaudhuri
18.11. - 19.11. CH - LOCARNO: Kathak & Music
21.11. - 23.11. HEMMOOR (near Cuxhaven): Sitar - step by step ... with Yogendra
22.11. - 23.11. CH - BASEL: Introductory Tabla Workshop
28.11. - 30.11. CH - ST. GALLEN: Kathak & Music

9. Concerts - October & November
- Scene-Info -

With dozens of dates the concert calendar this fall provides ample opportunity of enjoying Indian sounds. Espcially fans of sitar music can enjoy a lot of concerts. For more detailed information, venues and times as well as further dates for 2014 and 2015, check our concert calendar.

14.10. AACHEN: Partha Bose - Sitar
16.10. RASTATT: Liyakat Ali Khan - Sarangi
16.10. NL - UTRECHT: Sandip Bhattacharya - Tabla
16.10. SCHWABISCH GMU?ND: SitarStation
18.10. BERLIN: Harun Lamha - Ghazal-Vocal
18.10. NL - MAASTRICHT: Anshu Maharaj - Sarod
19.10. GOETTINGEN: Hemant-Festival - Kathak-Dance
19.10. BONN: Ashim Mallick - Sitar
24.10. GOSECK: Henning Kirmse - Sitar
25.10. HOHENMOELSEN: Henning Kirmse - Sitar
25.10. STUTTGART: Supratik Sengupta - Sitar
26.10. STUTTGART: Supratik Sengupta - Sitar
26.10. GB - LONDON: Ateetam -?? Crossing Horizons
26.10. BRAUNSCHWEIG: Indigo Masala - Acoustic Asian World Fusion
26.10. FRANKFURT: Harun Lamha - Ghazal-Vocal
29.10. CH - THUN: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
30.10. CH - LAUSANNE: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
31.10. AACHEN: Deepsankar Bhattacharjee - Sitar
01.11. HILDESHEIM: Indigo Masala - World Music Stories
01.11. NL - AMSTERDAM: Zakir Hussain & Masters of Percussion
01.11. STUTTGART: Monalisa Ghosh - Odissi-Dance
01.11. BAD HERRENALB: Partho Sarothy - Sarod
02.11. STUTTGART: Monalisa Ghosh - Odissi-Dance
02.11. RASTATT: Subrata De - Sitar
02.11. ZWICKAU: Avant-Rag
02.11. FRANKFURT: Partho Sarothy - Sarod
02.11. CH - LIESTAL: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
03.11. LEVERKUSEN: Partho Sarothy - Sarod
04.11. AACHEN: Partho Sarothy - Sarod
06.11. B - BRUXELLES: Partho Sarothy - Sarod
07.11. NL - UTRECHT: Hari Noopur & Chethana - Kathak Dance
07.11. CH - BERN: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
08.11. CH - WINTERTHUR: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
08.11. LV - RIGA: Prem Joshua & Band - Worldmusic
08.11. BREMEN: Willy Schwarz - Sarod, Akkordeon
08.11. KARLSRUHE: Abhisek Lahiri - Sarod, Hideaki Tsuji - Shamisen
12.11. CH - BASEL: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
12.11. HECKENBECK: Yogendra - Sitar
13.11. CH - LUGANO: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
14.11. BAD GRUND: Yogendra - Sitar
14.11. ESSEN: Subroto Roy Chaudhuri - Sitar
15.11. CH - CHIASSO: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
16.11. CH - LOCARNO: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
16.11. BADEN-BADEN: Hideaki Tsuji - Shamisen, Abhisek Lahiri - Sarod
20.11. CH - LUZERN: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
21.11. A - HOPFGARTEN: SitarStation
22.11. CH - BASEL: Ken Zuckerman - Sarod
23.11. CH - ROMANSHORN: Indian Air
26.11. CH - KREUZLINGEN: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
28.11. LAUTERBACH: Indigo Masala - Acoustic Asian World Fusion
28.11. LI - VADUZ: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
29.11. CH - ST. GALLEN: Namrta Rai - Kathak Dance
29.11. WU?RZBURG: Indigo Masala - Acoustic Asian World Fusion

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