What is Raag and Taal from Mohiniattam

Newsletter March / April 2012

1. Price reduction of electronic instruments
2. Harmoniums price increase
3. Farewell to two sitar virtuosos
4. The young masters (1/8) - generation change
5. Concert life in Calcutta (1/5) - Mehfil
6. Concert calendar
7. Indian Classical (2/7) - Raga & Tala


1. Price reduction of electronic instruments
- Special offers -

Thanks to the Internet, it has become increasingly easier in recent years to order electronic tabla, tanpura and lahara machines directly in India. And of course the prices there are considerably lower than at a European specialist dealer such as India Instruments. We believe, however, that it can still be wiser to order such devices from us. That is why we are massively reducing the prices! From 1.4. The following new prices apply - with savings of up to over 30% and up to 90 euros! Why we believe that we are quite competitive with this is explained below ...

Tablet machines:
Taalmala Digi 60 electronic tabla, previously 199 euros - - - now only 189 euros
Taal Tarang electronic tabla, previously 279 euros - - - now only 199 euros

Tanpura machines:
Raagini Digital electr. Tanpura, previously 259 euros - - - now only 189 euros
Saarang Magic Plus electr. Tanpura, previously 195 euros - - - now only 169 euros
Saarang Maestro Dx electr. Tanpura, previously 215 euros - - - now only 179 euros
Saarang Sparshini electr. Tanpura, previously 279 euros - - - now only 229 euros
Swarangini Digital electr. Tanpura, previously 289 euros - - - now only 199 euros

Lahara machines:
Nagma electr. Lahara, previously 249 euros - - - now only 179 euros
Sunadamala electr. Lahara, previously 199 euros - - - now only 169 euros

For comparison, an example calculation for a direct order in India with a list price of 100 euros. In addition, there are shipping costs, e.g. of 25 euros - makes a purchase price of 125 euros in total. This purchase price has to be taxed on import into the EU - in Germany 19% sales tax is added, which brings the costs to 148.75 euros. In addition, many shipping services charge a processing fee for the import formalities - we add an additional 10 euros for this. And of course the goods have to be paid for in advance, which for international transfers outside the EU also costs around 10 euros, depending on the bank. With all these ancillary costs, you pay around 170 euros.

For these small savings, however, you run an enormous risk up to total loss: A shipper in India can practically not grant a customer in Europe any guarantee, exchange or cancellation rights. If the device is lost during shipping or arrives broken - bad luck. If you don't like the device - it's your own fault. If after a while the device gives up the ghost - bad karma.

Given these facts, we believe that it is still wise to buy electronic tabla, tanpura and lahara machines from India Instruments. Thanks to the full statutory guarantee, exchange and cancellation rights, you do not run any risk with us - and you also benefit from easier processing, significantly faster delivery, competent advice, the opportunity to try it out personally in the store and comprehensive service even after the purchase.

... and if the price of the devices is simply too high for you, we are also happy to offer you inexpensive alternatives, such as the tabla, tanpura and drone software RiyazStudio, our tanpura and tabla CDs or our tabla and Tanpura machines 2nd choice - now reduced again to only 60 euros!


2. Harmoniums price increase
- Company info -

Inflation in India remains high. In booming cities like Mumbai in particular, costs are rising particularly quickly - and this is exactly where our supplier Paloma is at home. Due to the massive increase in purchase prices, we unfortunately have to increase the price of all Paloma harmoniums and the Paloma shrutiboxes. The new prices apply from April 16. - here is an overview:

Paloma Shrutibox small - 230, - Euro
Paloma Harmonium Standard - 450 euros
Paloma Harmonium Companion - 540 euros
Paloma Harmonium Compactina - 690 euros
Paloma Harmonium Premium - 690 euros
Paloma Harmonium Scale Changer - 1190 euros

We believe that Paloma's particularly high quality standard justifies these higher prices. But there are certainly also music fans who simply cannot afford these prices, which is why we are currently negotiating with various instrument makers about the delivery of alternative models at more favorable terms. Because of the long lead times and delivery times, we will be able to offer them from autumn 2012 at the earliest.

Anyone who was already toying with the purchase of a Paloma harmonium or a Shrutibox should take the opportunity now and by April 15 at the latest. place an order at the old price!


3. Farewell to two sitar virtuosos
- Obituaries -

Shamim Ahmed Khan, sitar virtuoso of the Maihar Gharan, is on 14.2. Died at the age of 73 after a heart attack in Mumbai. He came from a family of singers from Baroda in the tradition of the Agra-Gharana and received musical training from early childhood. As a teenager he followed his love for the sitar and became a student of Ravi Shankar in 1955. From 1960 he taught at Ravi Shankar's Kinnar School of Music in Mumbai and accompanied his teacher to the USA in 1967, where he performed, recorded and also taught until the 1970s. He later settled in Mumbai again and lived there as a highly respected concert virtuoso and teacher.

A CD by Shamim Ahmed Khan with the ragas Bhairav, Madhuvanti and Chandrakauns as well as a Dhun (with Nayan Ghosh on the tabla) is available under order number NRCD 0093 for 15 euros (plus shipping costs) from India Instruments.

Just one day after Shamim Ahmed Khan, the sitarist Jamaluddin Bhartiya, who lives only 2 km away in Mumbai, also died. He was 83 years old. He too came from a traditional family of musicians and was a student of Ravi Shankar. Jamaluddin Bhartiya had also learned from Khyal singer Amir Khan and in his playing he combined the Maihar style of Ravi Shankar with the vocal articulation of Vilayat Khan. This went so far that he not only played the sitar in his concerts, but also sang. He has been known to audiences in Central Europe especially since the 1970s, when he temporarily settled in Amsterdam and founded a school for Indian music there. Jamaluddin Bhartiya's student Darshan Kumari continues to teach sitar in Amsterdam in this tradition - and was the first teacher of India Instruments founder Yogendra in the early 1980s.

CDs of a wide range of sitarists are available on the media page of our homepage.

4. The young masters (1/8) - generation change
- Background info -

In the first edition of the new Indian music, dance and theater magazine Avantika, the music journalist Arunabha Deb wrote in January 2012 about the new generation of great Indian classical musicians between the ages of 30 and 40. We are bringing his article into a serial with an introduction and seven portraits of musicians eight parts.

Glorious past, delightful present, bright future

The popular media has had ample opportunity to kiss goodbye to Hindustani music over the past decade. Since the death of Ustad Alla Rakha in 2000, many other old masters have followed - Ustad Vilayat Khan in 2004, Pandit Kishan Maharaj in 2008, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan in 2009, and most recently Pandit Bhimsen Joshi in 2011. Of all those who can be described as a golden generation can, remains only Pandit Ravi Shankar, evergreen (as always) at the age of 92. At the death of each of these maestros, the media began a murmur of despair, in every personal obituary they saw the gravestone of all Hindustani music. The lawsuit? Young people are disinterested in practicing or engaging in classical music; on the golden generation rested the hopes of our great music, and now we stared (and then comes the ugly word) into a void.

The concern is inappropriate, to say the least. Before even taking a look at the plethora of really young musicians performing in Hindustani music today, it would be wise to take a step back and take a look at the generation that stands between the past and the coming. Who do we find there? For the instrumentalists we have Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, and for the singers there is Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, Kishori Amonkar and Ustad Rashid Khan.

So there has never been a question of emptiness. It is encouraging that new faces are already knocking on the doors of these masters. And that shouldn't come as a surprise. In a tradition that has always measured a musician's worth by the quality of his / her students, it is to be expected that each generation will work as hard as the previous one to ensure that the legacy is carried on. Of course the world changes a little bit every day. For musicians under 40 there are opportunities today that their gurus could not have imagined. That makes this generation even more complex: They define their own decisions more strongly than ever before - some stick to tradition, others give it up completely, and most are in the process of looking for a place somewhere in between. Kaushiki Desikan, the poster girl of the new generation, expresses it eloquently: "Tradition is a constant movement - we are trained in it, but at the same time we also contribute to it."


5. Concert life in Calcutta (1/5) - Mehfil
- Travel report -

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

Mehfil - the house concert

For centuries, raga music was played primarily at the Indian royal courts in the distinguished circle of invited guests. It is in this intimate setting that she can develop her subtle fascination most directly. Later, middle-class landowners, merchants or academics who had made money also took on the role of hosts for these private musical events called Mehfil. The great director Satyajit Ray captured the magic of mehfil wonderfully in his 1958 film "The Music Room" (Jalsaghar). Since Indian independence, however, the tradition of mehfil has been more and more supplanted by public concerts. But it is still alive today in a changed form.

Instead of a palace or at least a villa, the location of this modern Mehfils was a simple 3-room apartment near Tollygunj, a lively district in the southern part of the city. Instead of a mogul, the committed organizer and host was the Dhrupad student and filmmaker Carsten Wicke (his film Music Masala is available from India Instruments). And instead of a bag with gold coins, there was only a warm meal for the performing artists. Apparently it was not about using music as a representative status symbol, but rather cultivating the spirit of old Mehfil - the passion for an exquisite, highly refined art form.

Anyone who met in the small apartment that evening knew what he was getting into and had made a conscious decision, because several other top-class concerts were taking place in Calcutta at the same time. About a third of the 30 or so guests were Indian music lovers, European and North American music students and the performing artists, who not only made their own contributions but also listened to one another. And as a special guest of honor, the great tabla master Anindo Chatterjee appeared around midnight, who lives in the immediate vicinity and had initially learned tabla from the host Carsten Wicke at the beginning of his musical career. The warm meal already mentioned was also given to all guests around midnight as a reward for coming.

An all-night program was scheduled, which starts in the evening and lasts until the early hours of the morning. Several artists, one after the other, perform the ragas that are appropriate for the respective hour, so that ragas that are otherwise rarely performed can be enjoyed at the end of the night or early in the morning. As is usual on such occasions, the guests are not necessarily there from start to finish, but come and go as they please. This creates an informal form that positively underlines the intimate character of the event.

The program was played by young, still largely unknown artists from Calcutta, Europe and the USA, all of whom would go beyond the scope to name. Female and male dhrupad singing, rudra vina, sitar, bansuri, sarod and kathak dance were offered - a varied, ambitious and very unusual program. The artistic level of the performances was also colorfully mixed - it ranged from the not yet fully developed young talent to the internationally performing master. Many local artists may have worked in the hope of being able to make contacts for later paid performances, while the main attraction for western musicians was to prove themselves to an Indian audience. But the core for everyone should have been the enthusiasm for the music, and the joy of sharing it with like-minded people.

There was plenty of opportunity to do so, because all the artists were noticeably giving their best and the physical closeness on the floor of the music room lined with blankets and pillows meant that concentration, devotion and enthusiasm in the performances immediately spread to everyone present. There was a lively exchange and discussion over chai and snacks during the breaks in the kitchen-cum-living-room and on the balcony - and that until well after sunrise and the end of the program. concurring tenor: A unique, precious experience that is unfortunately far too rare in this form nowadays.

6. Concert calendar
- Scene info -

April and May are high season for Indian music in Central Europe - our concert calendar has over 40 dates in these two months. There are particularly many events in Stuttgart and the surrounding area. And with the sitarist Kushal Das and the Bansur players Hariprasad Chaurasia and Rupak Kulkarni some top artists are on the road again. The lesser-known artists are also interesting and worth listening to ... More detailed information on accompanying musicians, place and time as well as further dates for 2012 can be found on our concert calendar page, as always.

Until April 22nd BERLIN: SATYENDRA DEO SHARMA - sitar, various appearances
8.4. AACHEN: Madhubanti Sarkar (vocal) & Indradeep Ghosh (violin)
21.4. B-ANTWERP: RAJENDRA PRASANNA - Bansuri & Shahnai
21.4. ESSEN: INDIAN DANCE - CLASSIC & FOLK with Durga Arya and others
27.4. AUGSBURG: DANCE OF THE UNIVERSE - Getrud Sohler - Indian Dance, Klaus Kämper - cello, Nadia Braganga - harmonium
29.4. DIEPHOLZ: YOGENDRA - sitar
30.4. MELLE: YOGENDRA - sitar
5.5. BASEL: KUSHAL DAS - Sitar
6.5. ST. MARTIN: KUSHAL DAS - sitar
11.5. AACHEN: Mysore M. Manjunath (violin), Indradeep Ghosh (violin)
12.5. LAUTERBACH: INDIGO MASALA - Acoustic Asian World Fusion
12.5. STUTTGART: SARASWATHI RAJATHESH - Mohiniattam and Kuchi audi dance
13.5. STUTTGART: SARASWATHI RAJATHESH - Mohiniattam and Kuchi audi dance
13.5. HEIDELBERG: INDIGO MASALA - Acoustic Asian World Fusion
17.5. BAD MEINBERG: INDIGO MASALA - Acoustic Asian World Fusion & IOANNA SRINIVASAN - Kathak
24.5. AACHEN: Rupak Kulkarni - Bansuri
25.5. FOOD: Rupak Kulkarni - Bansuri
27.5. BERLIN: INDIGO MASALA - Acoustic Asian World Fusion

7. Indian Classical (2/7) - Rage & Tala
- Background info -

The classical Indian music tradition and its instruments are the basis for the work of India Instruments. But what is this tradition about? In a seven-part series by Yogendra, we bring an introduction for beginners.

Indian Classical Music (2/7) - Raga & Tala, Soul & Heart

Raga and tala, melody and rhythm, are the soul and heart of Indian classical music tradition. The Sanskrit word raga is derived from the verb "ranj", which means "to color".Ragas are melodic structures for improvisation and composition that, figuratively speaking, color the mind, that is, are supposed to have a certain emotional effect on the listener. Tala literally means "clapping" and describes the rhythmic level, the lively pulse beat in which the music unfolds.

Rules for ragas

Each of the several hundred known ragas has its own individual sound design that distinguishes it from all other ragas. It is defined by an ascending and a descending tone movement with five to seven tones each. Often the ascending and descending movement use the same tones, but sometimes completely different tones appear. Sometimes the notes come in a straight line like a musical scale, but sometimes they also make zigzags. Some tones are used almost naked, while others are played around with sophisticated ornaments. Some tones invite you to linger, others are only briefly touched upon. Some combine with others in characteristic sequences, while others are constantly being recombined. And all tones relate to an uninterrupted fundamental tone, which is usually played by an instrument called a tanpura as a shimmering carpet of sound in the background.

Development of the structure

All of this results in a unique structure for each raga. It can be visually compared with the vocabulary and grammar of a language, the sequence of steps in a dance or the genetic information of a living being. In order for this structure to develop, the language must be spoken, the dance must be danced, and the living being must grow and develop. Only in this development does the raga come to life and take on a concrete form. This can be a fixed form in a certain composition - similar to a written poem in which the rules and the beauty of a language are manifested. Most of the time, the raga unfolds spontaneously improvising from the moment - just like when we speak we usually do not recite texts we have learned by heart but express ourselves spontaneously according to the situation.

Magic of the Ragas

Each raga does not only have a certain formal structure but also a spiritual vibration, a mood, color, energy or however you want to express it. Many ragas are therefore associated with the times of the day, seasons or deities corresponding to them. For centuries, attempts have also been made to portray the special character of a raga in the form of paintings and poems. All these associations and attempts at translation can be helpful when approaching a raga in order to open doors to inner spaces of experience. The magic of a raga cannot really be captured with it. Completely without words, only with abstract tones, he is able to touch our innermost being through the art of great musicians cultivated for decades, to bring a fresh source of subtle joy to flow again and again and to lead us to a place of deep peace.

Eternal flow of time

The tala, the rhythmic structure, plays a major role in the development of the raga. Talas are not straight like the bars in Western music, but circular - the beginning and the end coincide, so that the movement basically goes on forever. We know this from the clock, where at the end of the twelfth hour we can either speak of midnight, the beginning of the new day, or midnight, the end of the previous day. But no matter how we look at it - time continues to run steadily and unmoved. And the tala also keeps moving in steady pulses, creating a dynamic framework for the music. The one, the first beat, at which the beginning and the end coincide, has a special meaning. The music revolves around this one, circles around it, sometimes apparently moves away from it, until then, as if by magic, the musicians keep coming together again and again at precisely this point.

Order of talas

This intuitive, seemingly magical interplay is only possible because each tala has a precisely defined order. The total number of even pulses in the tala is usually between six and sixteen, divided into subgroups of 2, 3 or 4. In this structure, a certain sound is assigned to each pulse beat, which is played on a drum in concerts. This gives the tala, in addition to its mathematical clarity, a beguiling sensual quality and characteristic movement. And it is precisely this movement that ticks exactly in the heads of the musicians and those in the audience when they play, creating a sometimes intoxicating inner connection.

Further reading, available here:
* Raghava Menon: Adventure Raga - On the Magic of Indian Music, TB, 92 pages, 8.50 euros
* Carmen Mager & Barbara Irmer: Nada Yoga, 200 pages, hardcover, 19.95 euros
* Ernst Schrott: The healing sounds of Ayurveda, 140 p., Hardcover, with CD, 19.95 euros