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Appreciating Indian Music

  • 18 July 2019
  • 6 replies

  • Music Community Leader
  • 768 replies
When classical Indian music was introduced into our culture in the 1960's, it became very popular.

Ravi Shankar, who played the sitar, was a Bengali Indian musician who influenced many western musicians, most notably, George Harrison of the Beatles who spent time in India studying with him.
Above is a video of Pandit Ravi Shankar as he performs Raga Yaman Kalyan in London at a Festival organized by George Harrison.

Other western musicians and composers were also influenced by Indian music such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, etc.
Years ago, I attended a few concerts given by Ravi Shankar, who had come to the United States to perform.

I wish I knew more about Indian music. But hopefully, people here, @Adithya , and @Music my life can help me as well as others to better understand and know this most beautiful music. The instruments are so interesting too. If anyone can further explain some of this music and the instrumentation to us, as well as post more music videos as examples, it would be so appreciated.

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Hmmm...unfortunately I'm not so well acquainted with the instrumental part of Indian music (like Sitars, Veenas, tablas etc.), but I can share that a major portion of Indian music is in the genre of Indian classical music. The other portion of Indian music are songs usually associated with the movies here. Unlike Hollywood, almost every movie here in India have their own musical and dance sequences. They are fine, but not very interesting like the Indian classical music. Indian classical music is actually quite 'ragaish' and 'devotional' - which is what had inspired George Harrison, John Coltrane, Roger Mcguinn, Brian Jones etc.

Indian classical music is divided into 2 parts - Carnatic (aka South Indian style) and Hindustani (aka North Indian style). If you would like to know more, the wiki page on "Indian classical music" is quite good at it. It tells about the history and origin of this music.

But I can share with you some songs in this genre:
"Janaki Jivana" - a traditional devotional song

"Govindam Adi Purusham" - the shortened version was actually produced by George Harrison and released on the Radha Krishna Temple album.

This is the original full version of it done by another singer:

And the biggest artist of Indian classical music is MS Subbalakshmi. She has sung a lot devotional songs which were originally composed by the Indian musicians and sages of the past. I'm sharing few links, but you can check out more of her songs also if you like Indian classical music:

@Adithya , this is excellent! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I will carefully listen to all the examples you gave us.
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@Judith I have lived in North India for 4 years and during that time, I was volunteering for an organization that promoted Indian Classical Music amongst the youth. So, I have been fortunate to attend and witness several ceremonies where maestros have performed several classical (some near extinct) instruments.

Ravi Shankar is a renowned musician, he used to play sitar.
But, personally, I like Sarod even more.
Sarod is an instrument which gives a more fuller sound in my opinion.
You can check this piece by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performing for Google Talks: -

There are several other instruments of the same family: - like the Surbahar, which can be said as the more 'bass' version of the sitar.
You can check this video where Surbahar is being played:-

@Asiim , these videos are amazing! I hope others will watch these.
How incredible that you have attended ceremonies where you were able to witness special instruments being played by maestros.

The Sarod does sound fuller than a sitar however I wasn’t sure if it had drone strings the way a sitar has. Does it?
It was so wonderful to see a father and his sons playing together.

The Surbahar was magnificent! What an incredible musician he is who played it.

Thank you so much for posting this for us.
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@Judith Yeah, Sarod does have drone strings.

A typical sarod has 17 -25 strings— out of which 1-2 are drone strings.

And happy to share those videos, You're welcome!

@Asiim , I just heard a fantastic concert “Amjad Ali Khan Sarod Trilogy”.  Amjad Ali Khan, along with his 2 sons and an amazing tabla musician performed together for an incredible musical event.

You first suggested him, and now I can understand why he is so amazing. I read that he  was nominated for a Grammy as well as having won the Crystal Award. He gave his first performance at age 6!

For those who might want to hear the sarod and listen to this incredible musician with his 2 sons, here is a link: