Newsletter September / October 2016

1. New Harmonium Brand - Tirupati
2. Fresh Breeze in Ancient Tradition (2/4) - The Perfect Rudra-Veena
3. Let's Get Loud - Sound Pickup for Indian String Instruments (1/2)
4. German Record Critics' Award - Assi Ghat by Trio Benares
5. How to Make (Indian) Music? (3) - The Removal of Gravity
6. Workshops - October to December
7. Concerts - October / November


1. New Harmoniumbrand - Tirupati
- New in our Assortment -

For a long time, we have been looking for new harmonium makers in order to adapt our range even better to the constantly growing demand for harmoniums. Our ideal maker  works at a high quality level, has mastered shipping logistics, communicates reliably and offers good prices. Our new brand Tirupati fulfills all these requirements. We introduce it by adding two new models to our assortment! Other models are expected to be launched in early 2017...

Harmonium Tirupati Kirtan Premium The Tirupati Kirtan Premium is an improved version of the popular Kirtan 23 B. The simple design makes it inexpensive and sturdy. It's easy to move around thanks to its compact dimensions in folded state. And double reeds and octave coupler provide for full, warm and bright sound. The outer bellows are firmly fixed - unlike the 23 B where the outer bellows are a separate part of the folding mechanism (and need to secured with hooks before playing). This makes the entire folding mechanism considerably less sensitive and easier to operate. The whole instrument is collapsible into an integrated, stable wooden box. This box offers space for slightly larger inner bellows than the 23 B, giving the Kirtan Premium a nice long sustain. A good choice for beginners as well as for ambitious kirtan singers - now available @ 650 Euros!
Details, photos and sound samples

Harmonium Tirupati Harinam The Tirupati Harinam is a particularly small, light and sturdy harmonium with sharp and powerful sound. Its price of 370 Euros makes it the cheapest double reed harmonium in our assortment. Its small bellows, however, give it very little sustain and limit its range of dynamic variation. Playing long and steady chords is difficult and requires certain practice. The low weight and the small dimensions result from an intelligent construction without awkward folding mechanism. The melodic range is smaller than in full size harmoniums, but sufficient for all common mantras and kirtans. The Harinam harmonium can also be played standing by fixing a shoulder strap to the attached rings. Not recommended for beginners, but ideal for experienced musicians on the road, to accompany kirtans and group singing and for playing with strong rhythmic accents.
Details, photos and sound samples

Tirupati is the international brand name for instruments from Sharma Musicals in Ghaziabad, a neighbouring city of Delhi. Sharma Musicals was founded in 1934 and is today one of the leading Indian harmonium makers. The current manager Mayank Sharma runs the business in the fourth generation. Thanks to solid infrastructure, long experience and good quality awareness, Sharma Musicals is a reliable supplier of all harmonium models typical of Delhi and North-West India. Instruments from Sharma Musicals are also marketed in the USA and are sold there under the name Bhava Harmonium. They are recommended by renowned kirtan teacher Daniel Tucker.

Overview of our harmonium assortment.

2. Fresh Breeze in Ancient Tradition (2/4) - The Perfect Rudra-Veena
- Background Story by Yogendra -

Dhrupad is the oldest living tradition in North Indian raga music and combines refined intonation with systematic unfolding of raga, formal austerity and a meditative approach. The heyday of dhrupad was in the 16th century, but in the mid 20th century it had come close to extinction. Since then dhrupad has gone through a kind of renaissance - and has been getting creative input from Westerners lately as well....

The rudra veena is considered the most important melody instrument of the time-honoured dhrupad tradition. Its high status made it a model for younger instruments like sitar and sarod. Alap, jor and jhala on the modern string instruments are directly inspired by the structure of raga development on the rudra veena, and the additional upper resonator of the sitar may originally have been an attempt to imitate the double resonators of the rudra veena. However, the sound quaity and sustain of the traditional veenas made of bamboo is rather limited. In order to improve these shortcomings the great veena master Zia Mohiuddin Dagar developed a veena with a thick wooden pipe, enlarged body and peg box and much larger resonators in the 1960s, in collaboration with Murari Mohan Adhikari, head of the renowned instrumental workshop Kanailal & Brother, famous for its sitars, surbahars and rudra veenas. This so-called Dagar veena can produce a very warm, bassy and long lasting sound. However, it has less melodic flexibility due to the extreme tension and higher tuning of its very heavy strings. It is also too large and heavy to be held on one shoulder like a traditional veena. Instead its lower resonator rests on the floor and the upper one on one knee of the musician, just like the South Indian saraswati veena.

Carsten Wicke This split between traditional veena players and representatives of the Dagar school was confronted by Carsten Wicke when he began to study with Asad Ali Khan, the last important traditional veena master, in the 1990s. Prior to that, Carsten had been intensively immersed in Indian spirituality for many years, and had learnt the basics of tabla playing from Anindo Chatterjee. He was impressed by the expressive power and agility of Asad Ali Khan's playing, but at the same time the sound of the Dagar veena fascinated him. Thus he had a modified traditional veena according to his own ideas built by veena maker Murari Mohan Adhikari, in order to combine the sound of the Dagar veeina with the agility of the traditional veena. That's how his search for the perfect veena began.

Detail Rudra-Veena Carsten's further dhrupad studies with singer Ashish Sankrityayan, a representative of the Dagar school, and an intensive exchange with other veena players and instrument makers made his vision more and more clear. Finally, he realised that he could only bring it to life if every single part of the veena was made exactly according to his ideas. Soon after the death of his teacher Asad Ali Khan in 2011, he settled down in Calcutta, the capital of string instrument making in India, and set to work. Carsten made the most precise designs and sought out craftsmen who could realise these designs for each component of the veena. There were numerous obstacles to overcome, because the building of a rudra veena is considered inauspicious by many in India due to its connection with the fearful God Rudra. In addition, old craftsmanship skills are getting lost in today's modern at frightening speed. After several years of hard work, and despite numerous setbacks and difficulties, the first rudra veena was finally finished in 2015 - an instrument that meets Carsten's needs as a veena player: exquisitely beautiful, made of the finest materials, lovingly designed down to the smallest detail, with wonderfully sublime sound and good playability. Perhaps not yet the perfect veena that he had dreamt of, but still a milestone on the way there.

Today, Carsten is busy producing a small series of his veena, constantly improving the instruments in the process, so that other musicians can also participate in his vision, and the art of the veena making and veena playing, threatened with extinction, is filled with new life. He now confidently goes public with his own veena playing, a unique combination of the meditative Dagarbani style and the Khandarbani style of his teacher Asad Ali Khan. This new approach is being increasingly acknowledged in India and makes Carsten a sought-after soloist at concerts and festivals..

YouTube-Kanal with videos by Carsten Wicke, his teacher Asad Ali Khan and historical audio archive.
Website of Carsten Wicke.
Photo documentation of Veena making.

3. Let's Get Loud - Sound Pickup for Indian String Instruments (1/2)
Practical Tips by Ashok Nair -

Ashok Nair is a sitarist and electrical engineer. In this 2-part essay he gives an overview of the sound pickup possibilities for Indian string instruments for concerts or recordings.

The traditional Indian string instruments have a relatively low volume compared to electric instruments. They are acoustic instruments, which can not exceed a certain volume. Therefore, these instruments are often amplified electro-technically for concerts. The generated sound is converted into an electrical signal and passed on to loudspeakers via a mixer and an amplifier. The electrical signals are then converted back into acoustic signals via a membrane. The original electrical signal can of course be used for recordings as well.

Today, the following technologies are available for sound pickup:
- dynamic microphone
- condenser microphone
- magnetic pickup
- Piezo Sensor
- contackt microphone

Mikrofon Microphones are usually positioned at a distance of 20 to 30 cm in front of or above the instrument. Dynamic microphones are easy to handle in live situations, but they reproduce a rather coarse sound. They are priced at a double-digit to medium three-digit range. The SM57 from Shure is a well-established dynamic microphone with very stable manufacturing and offers a very good price-performance ratio with a selling price of 115 Euros.

Condenser microphones are much more sensitive, but tend to produce feedbacks. They are therefore mainly used in studio situations. They can cost up to just over 10,000 Euros. The NT3 from Rode has been established for years as a good condenser mic. With its absolutely reasonable selling price of 180 Euros, it offers a very balanced sound and clear treble. If money is less important and you want to get a perfect sound, you can't ignore the manufacturer Neumann. An often used model is the KM184, which is available for 650 Euros. The most expensive Neumann microphones are in the range of Euros 5,000.

Tonabnehmer Magnetic pickups are mainly known on electric guitars or basses. They sit firmly installed directly under the strings in close proximity to the bridge. Copper wire wrapped around the pickup is an inductor. By moving the string with its different thickness, the magnetic field around the inductor is changed. The electrical signals change and thus the sound from the loudspeakers. The advantage here is that the performer just needs to insert a stereo jack into the instrument, e.g. the sitar. Visually, the magnetic pickups tend to look a bit beefed up on Indian instruments. The sound is similar to a guitar with a sitar effect. This effect is only rarely desired. Moreover, magnetic pickups do not work for bronze strings which are a part of most traditional Indian string setups. Therefore they are usually not installed by Indian instrument makers. Simple models from manufacturer Seymour Duncan are already available starting from 60 Euros.

Piezo sensors operate by absorbing vibration. Fine piezoelectric crystals generate small voltages due to vibration, which are further processed by sound processing. The advantage of this technique is that the generated sounds extend over large parts of the instrument and thus a high frequency spectrum is available to the piezo sensor. Cheap models are available, for example, from the manufacturers K & K and Shadow. They are readily recommended for hobby musicians, because they give good results at a relatively low price.

The second part in the next newsletter will deal with contact microphones and the smart use of the different pickup technologies.

4. German Record Critics' Award - Assi Ghat by Trio Benares
- Scene-News by Yogendra -

Saxophon player Roger Hanschel is a well-known name in the German jazz scene. Since 2014 he has been performing with sitarist Deobrat Mishra and tabla player Prashant Mishra in a band called Trio Benares. Deobrat Mishra is the son of sitarist Shivanath Mishra, who could be heard in countless concerts with the Music Ensemble of Benares in the 1980s, and has kept on touring Europe ever since. The first record of Trio Benares, Assi Ghat, has now received the German Record Critics' Award 3/2016, in the somewhat diffuse section folk and singer / songwriter, world music, traditional ethnic music.
Trio Benares
For the jury, Jürgen Frey explains the decision like this: "Indian sound worlds connect with jazz: Trio Benares extends this remarkable story by a new, completely contemporary chapter. Roger Hanschel, long known for the Kölner Saxophon Mafia and crossover projects in Western music, deepened his knowledge of North Indian music in Benares, at the academy of award-winning sitar virtuoso Deobrat Mishra. Deobrat's nephew Prashant Mishra, a young star of the scene, joined them with tabla percussion. Together, the three came up with an energy-packed fusion as yet unheard-of. Hanschel's hope of developing 'an original third story' from the stylistic forms has completely been fulfilled."

One may wonder what is supposed to be so new, original and contemporary about Assi Ghat. After all there is a well-established tradition of collaborations of jazzers with Indian musicians since the 1950s, in which extensive reciprocal improvisation in the respective idioms is combined with composed themes in unison. Nothing new about that. Different concepts in the interaction of Indian and Western instruments, stylistics and form elements in Germany are actually developed by other bands like Pulsar Trio or Indigo Masala. Nevertheless Assi Ghat is still a well-crafted, intelligent and enjoyable acoustic music production. Assi Ghat gives friends of Indian sounds good reason to be happy, because it keeps the rich tradition of Indo-jazz collaborations alive and fresh - and the award is a nowadays rare opportunity for Indian sounds to get some public attention in Central Europe. And who knows, maybe the award will encourage Trio Benares to really explore whole new musical paths...

Live Video Kajari by Trio Benares.

5. How to Make (Indian) Music? (3) - The Removal of Gravity
- Quate by Holger Noltze -

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

Holger Noltze Aesthetic experiences can train our capacity to withstand difficulties and accept unexplainable things. This is a key competency to navigate a complex world. At the same time, music is much more than just a training camp and means for a good cause. Music is first and most important music. Whoever gets involved in it can learn how to fly. But before that one has to go a bit uphill.

The time-dependent art of music needs immersion and the investment of time, for active practice as well as for receptive listening. Its inspiring aspect is the idea that discovering something, perhaps also finding out about someting, gives you enjoyment. For the discovery is always connected to removing something which is concealing, i.e. an acting against a resistance.

When music is played well and heard well, it can result in the momentary removal of gravity. This is where its power lies: the more burdensome we perceive the commitment to the norms of everyday life - maximisation, mainstream, want - the more we need to experience something else, and the more liberating music can affect us. The experience that this place exists, once made, changes the view. It can change your life.

Holger Noltze, in: "The Lie of Effortlessness - On Music, Media and Complexity", edition Körber Foundation

6. Workshops - October to December
- Scene-Info -

And as usual there is a lot of fine Indian music in Germany, too. More detailed information, locations and times as well as further dates in our workshop page.

Swapan Chaudhuri

18.10. - 21.10. BERLIN: Carnatic Vocal, Hindustani Vocal & Carnatic Percussion with T.V. Gopalakrishnan
21.10. - 23.10. HORUMERSIEL (North Sea): Harmonium for Beginners with Devadas Mark Janku
23.10. - 30.10. BAD MEINBERG: Mantrayoga Teacher Training with Sundaram
26.10. - 30.10. CH - ZURICH: Dhrupad-Workshop with the Gundecha Brothers
28.10. - 29.10. CH - BERN: Harmonium for Beginners with Gyanroopa Dickbertel
18.11. - 24.11. CH - BASEL: Intensive Instrumental and Vocal Seminar with Ken Zuckerman & Daniel Bradley
18.11. - 24.11. CH - BASEL: Intensive Tabla Seminar with Swapan Chaudhuri
19.11. - 20.11. CH - BASEL: Introductory Tabla Workshop with Harpit Singh and Bastian Pfefferli

7. Concerts - October / November
- Scene-Info -

This time our concert calendar is more international than ever with more than 90 events in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and even Portugal. All over France the festival Namasté France presents Indian culture from 15.9. - 30.11.  - here its complete programe.

And as usual there is a lot of fine Indian music in Germany, too. More detailed information, locations and times as well as further dates in our concert calendar.

Namaste France

15.10. F - SAVIGNY-LE-TEMPLE: Dhoad - Gipsys from Rajasthan
15.10. KOBLENZA: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
15.10. GB - LONDON: Gopalkrishna Hegde & Troupe - Hindustani Vocal
15.10. LUDINGHAUSEN: Hindol Deb - Sitar
16.10. FRANKFURT: Bharathi Avireddy & Ensemble - Bharatanaytam & Kuchipudi Dance
16.10. GB - LONDON: Saberi Misra - Kathakdance, Shakir Khan - Sitar
17.10. BERLIN: Sunita Amin - Dhrupad
18.10. F - BAGNOIS-SUR-CREZE: Bollywood Masala Orchestra
18.10. SE - STOCKHOLM: 10th Stockholm Sangeet Conference
18.10. F - PARIS: Partha Pratim Roy - Sitar
18.10. P - LISBOA: L. Subramaniam & Ambi Subramaniam - Carnatic Violin
22.10. GB - LONDON: Keka Sinha - Kathak Dance
22.10. BERLIN: T.V. Gopalakrishnan - Carnatic Vocal
22.10. STUTTGART: Subhankar Chatterjee - Vocal
23.10. STUTTGART: Subhankar Chatterjee - Vocal
23.10. HARBERGEN (near NIENBURG): Yogendra - Sitar
24.10. BERLIN: KG Westman - Sitar
24.10. BERLIN: Rajasree Mukherjee - vocals
25.10. A - VIENNA: Rohan Dasgupta - Sitar
27.10. F - NANTES: Malini Ranganathan - Kathak & Bharatanatyam Dance
28.10. F - NICE: Shubhendra Rao - Sitar & Saskia Rao de Haas - Cello
28.10. PRACTICE: Yogendra - Sitar
28.10. F - PARIS: Deepa Chakravarthy - Mohiniattam Dance
28.10. PADERBORN: Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay - Khyal Vocal
29.10. F - PARIS: Deepa Chakravarthy - Mohiniattam Dance
29.10. ESSLINGEN / OSTFILDERN: Deepsankar Bhattacharjee - Sitar
29.10. GB - LONDON: Dharambir Singh - sitar, Bharat Bhushan Goswami - sarangi
29.10. STUTTGART: Shouvik Mukherjee - Sitar
29.10. COLOGNE: Joyeta Choudhury - Vocal
30.10. COLOGNE: Joyeta Choudhury - Vocal
30.10. STUTTGART: Shouvik Mukherjee - Sitar
30.10. COLOGNE: Debashish Bhattacharjee - Tabla Chakra Meditation & Chanting
31.10. BERLIN: Anurekha Ghosh - Sufi Kathak
31.10. A - GRAZ: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
01.11. BERLIN: Partha Bose - Sitar
02.11. STUTTGART: Esha Bandyopadhyay - Vocal, Partha Bose - Sitar
04.11. GB - LONDON: Partha Bose - Sitar, Chiranjib Chakrobarty - Vocals
04.11. WESTERWALD: Sundaram & Friends - Mantras / Kirtan
04.11. NL - UTRECHT: Abhisek Lahiri - Sarod
05.11. A - LANDECK: Klaus Falschlunger - sitar
05.11. CH - BADEN: Ramayana - Bharatanatyam Dance Drama
05.11. A - LANDECK: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
05.11. A - VIENNA: Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Damayanti
05.11. STUTTGART: Monalisa Ghosh - Odissi Dance
05.11. CH - GENEVE: Sangeeta Bandopadhyaya - Khyal Vocal
05.11. COLOGNE: Ghulam Shabbir Khan - Vocal
06.11. COLOGNE: Jarry Singla - Piano, Harmonium
06.11. STUTTGART: Monalisa Ghosh - Odissi Dance
06.11. A - HORNSTEIN (Burgenland): Indian dance
06.11. F - PARIS: Festival de danses classiques indiennes
11.11. ESSLINGEN / OSTF.: Debaprasad Chakraborty & Debojyoti Chakraborty - Sitar
12.11. ROSENHEIM: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
12.11. A - VIENNA: Mahabharata - Dance Theater
15.11. BOCHUM: Jarry Singla - piano, harmonium
16.11. COLOGNE: Jarry Singla - piano, harmonium
19.11. ESSEN: Jarry Singla - piano, harmonium
19.11. BADEN-BADEN: Subrata De - Sitar
19.11. FORTH: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
20.11. STUTTGART: Subrata De - Sitar
20.11. HEIDELBERG: Sundaram & Friends - Mantras / Kirtan
20.11. CH - BASEL: Ken Zuckerman - Sarod
23.11. BAD GRUND (Harz Mountains): Yogendra - Sitar
24.11. F - PARIS: Raghunath Manet - Saraswati-Veena
25.11. BRAUNSCHWEIG: Yogendra - Sitar
25.11. CH - BASEL: Ken Zuckerman - Sarod
26.11. CH - BASEL: Ken Zuckerman - Sarod
26.11. F - BORDEAUX: Shivu Taralagatti - Sitar
26.11. A - WIEN: Indian dance
26.11. HEMMOOR: Yogendra - Sitar
26.11. BERLIN: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan
26.11. STUTTGART: Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury - Sitar
27.11. STUTTGART: Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury - Sitar
27.11. CH - BASEL: Ken Zuckerman - Sarod

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