What is the notation of Raga Bagesri

Newsletter May / June 2012


1. Hindustani Gata-s Compilation - book with instrumental compositions
2nd Raga CD from Yogendra - new edition
3. The young masters (2/8) - Kaushiki Desikan, vocals
4. Concert life in Calcutta (2/5) - Bhawanipur Sangeet Sammilani
5. Restricted operation - June / July
6. Concert calendar - June / July
7. Indian Classical (3/7) - North and South


1. Hindustani Gata-s Compilation - book with instrumental compositions
- Review by Yogendra -

In classical North Indian music, gats (or gata-s) are short compositions for plucked string instruments such as sitar or sarod, which serve as a thematic starting point for further improvisations in a raga and tala. Since gats are one of the few relatively fixed elements of Hindustani music (apart from the sound form of the ragas themselves, of course), they form an important framework for theoretical and practical study. Ideally, they give a melodically and rhythmically polished short portrait of a raga that contains its essential features in an artistically convincing form.

With his book "Hindustani Gata-s Compilation - Instrumental Themes in Indian Classical Music", published in early 2012, the French musicologist and sitarist Patrick Moutal presents an impressive collection of gats. On over 250 pages, he presents notations of 454 gats in 164 ragas and 15 talas, which he collected during his student years in Varanasi from around 1970 to 1983. Of course, these include not only the roughly 70 to 80 generally known ragas, but also many less well-known exotic species. The sources from which they come are just as dazzling and complex as the gats presented. Most of the gats come from Lal Mani Misra and K. C. Gangrade, Patrick Moutal's teachers in Varanasi, and thus represent musical traditions that are relatively little known outside of India. Internationally known virtuosos such as Allauddin Khan, Nikhil Banerjee, Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan, Rais Khan, Imrat Khan, Buddhaditya Mukherjee and Balaram Pathak are also represented with individual gats. Also there are V. N. Bhatkhande and several well-known singers from the first half of the 20th century. And last but not least, Patrick Moutal himself contributed with a number of his own compositions. The Gats were handed down either in personal lessons, by adopting them from written publications or by transcribing published recordings.

The gats are noted in the Svaralipi system developed by V. N. Bhatkhande, a letter notation with the characters of the Devanagari alphabet (which are used, among other things, for Sanskrit and modern Hindi), which is of course also explained in detail in the book. Unfortunately, there is a twofold weakness in the work's choice of this notation system: On the one hand, the foreign characters make it considerably more difficult for the Western reader and completely unnecessarily to access the musical notation. On the other hand, the rigid form of the system only allows a rigid, relatively superficial representation of the music. Ornaments and articulation rules that decisively shape the sound of a raga are largely absent. Rhythmic subtleties that go beyond an even subdivision of a unit of time also do not occur.

With this, Patrick Moutal takes a very traditionalist position that notations basically only want to be used as a memory aid and skeletal representations. Musically, a notation can only be filled with life if the interpreter has already heard the gat as a sound form from the teacher (or, if necessary, from a recording) or at least has mastered the underlying raga in all its subtleties. For ideological reasons that seem outdated today, this view deliberately renounces a more nuanced presentation of the music and thus fails to recognize the various further possibilities of more detailed notations such as those used in Joep Bor's "The Raga Guide" or in George Ruckert's "The Classical Music of North India" become.

Who is the book aimed at specifically? It is certainly not suitable for beginners in Indian music, as it requires, as I said, a good knowledge of the respective ragas. Anyone who knows Hindi is more likely to fall back on the extensive Indian publications. And if you are looking for longer, detailed pieces for in-depth study of performance practice, you will find what you are looking for with George Ruckert. This Gat collection is certainly very interesting for everyone who has mastered a wide range of ragas and talas as well as the principles of improvisational raga development and who are looking for new gats to expand and differentiate their repertoire - if they move away from the Don't let Devanagari and the very inconsistent source situation put you off. For this rather small target group, the book may become a real treasure trove.

Hindustani Gata-s Compilation is now available for 28 euros (plus 1.95 euros shipping) from India Instruments.


2. Raga CD from Yogendra - New Edition
- New Releases -

"Peace, Love & Joy - Three Ragas for Sitar & Tabla" is the title of the new edition of Yogendra's classic Indian raga CD released in May together with tabla player Ashis Paul. Three traditional Indian evening melodies bring the magic and deep spirituality of India to life with sitar and tabla. Ideal for relaxation, meditation, yoga, Ayurveda and Tantra - but also for artistically demanding listening pleasure! Peace: the meditative-dignified Raga Bageshri. Love: the romantic raga Kirwani. Joy: the innocent and light raga Bhoopali. The record was published for the first time in 2011 in a small edition. Now it is available in an attractive new design through the Silenzio sales department and on the relevant download platforms - and of course at a particularly low price also from India Instruments!

"This duo brings the beauty of tradition into a form that is accessible and understandable even to untrained ears. The three ragas are dazzling and melodious and show two musicians who enjoy playing together. A multi-layered album that can brighten your horizon . " - Eelco signs, www.folkworld.eu.
"The music pissed me off the first warm spring evening today ... I haven't heard such beautiful things for a long time." - Shyamala, yoga teacher.
"I like the continuous peaceful mood and how the peaceful spreads." - Dakini, Amma devotee.
"These ragas noticeably awaken the emotional states for which they were created in me. Wonderful!" - Atma Singh, Kundalini Yoga teacher.
"There are certainly few non-Indians who have studied and mastered the sitar and Indian music as seriously as Yogendra." - Georg Lawall, composer and guitarist.

Sitarist Yogendra comes from Germany and studied the secrets of Indian raga music for decades with important masters such as Ali Akbar Khan and Partha Chatterjee. Tabla companion Ashis Paul comes from Calcutta, is a master student of Anindo Chatterjee, and is considered one of the most sensitive and musical tabla virtuosos of his generation.

Peace, Love & Joy is now available for 15 euros (plus 1.95 euros shipping) from India Instruments.
More classical Indian CDs


3. The young masters (2/8) - Kaushiki Desikan, vocals
- Report by Arunabha Deb -

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.

Kaushiki Desikan, 31, Calcutta, singer of the Patiala Gharana

Kaushiki started out as a complete traditionalist. She first formed the world of music in 1997, at the age of 17, with her debut concert at the India Habitat Center in Delhi. Her rendition of Kedar (later published by Music Today) silenced any critics who had maliciously attributed her success to her origins. As the daughter and student of Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty, Kaushiki has always carried the weight of her legacy with clarity and ease. "I'm not so foolish as to believe that other girls my age couldn't have achieved the same thing I did if they had the same opportunities," she says. But she quickly adds that she just knew how to use her chances: "An organizer may come to me once or even twice because I'm my father's daughter, but he wouldn't come a third time if he wasn't really into his Festival wanted to perform. "

At 31, she is undoubtedly the leading singer of her generation. Today it would be ridiculous to claim that she has this rank just because of her father's greatness in the music world. She has made her own decisions - from shaping her singing style to the direction of her career. Early in her career she was heavily criticized for overemphasizing technical mastery in her concerts, especially in her sargam-based Tanas, but she stuck to what she believed in. "I'm not a 40-year-old trapped in the body of a 20-year-old," she told the author three years ago. "As a young girl I like to sing my Sargams and give my concerts a certain climax." And what was initially a point of criticism eventually became a celebrated trademark of their singing. Grouchy still consider this point to be an indication of their immaturity, but their response to such criticism is balanced, as always. "I know that I sometimes overdo it with my technical cabinet pieces. I am working on it. But it is also ridiculous to say that technical sophistication equals immaturity. So the singing of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was immature?"

In her professional orientation, she was less in a hurry than many others of her generation to experiment with other forms. "I first wanted to make sure that my identity as a classical singer was firmly embedded in the minds of the audience. I was aware that I would dilute this identity by experimenting with other forms too early," she says. For her, getting involved in a non-classic project always depends on one factor: "I ask myself whether I can justify my presence in the project?" Lately, her inner voice has answered this question positively quite often: she has sung in two Bengali films (Chaplin and Jani Dekha Hobe), and in another, Chitrangada, she plays herself among other things (a pretty clever trick from Bengali's hip Director Rituparno Ghosh to finally get her on screen; he had been pushing her to do it for years).

Independent albums are also in sight: one in collaboration with Tagore-Lieder singer Sraboni Sen and one as a joint project with Purbayan Chatterjee and Sonu Nigam. But these new ventures haven't hindered her earlier schedule in the slightest: she's as busy as ever with her classical concerts. This season, she makes an appearance in Maharashtra almost every week.

4. Concert life in Calcutta (2/5) - Bhawanipur Sangeet Sammilani
- Travel report from Yogendra -

In the 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.

The southern inner city of Calcutta, between the old center and the shopping street Rash Behari Avenue (where the sarod maker Hemen still resides today and, until a few years ago, the sitar maker Hiren Roy), is a densely built-up, pulsating to roaring Indian metropolitan area. In a side street there is an inconspicuous older building in the usual local condition - dirty sidewalk in front of it, walls stained with mold, narrow entrance door and narrow stairwell full of unspeakable smells. But if you are not deterred by the uninviting exterior, you will find one of Calcutta's oldest and most venerable private music circles on the first floor - the Bhawanipur Sangeet Sammilani, in German for example: the music meeting of the Bhawanipur district.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the newly emerging educated middle class in major Indian cities discovered raga music as a national cultural asset. In many places private music associations were founded to maintain it. The classical music monopoly of the aristocrats or large landowners with their traditional Mehfils crumbled and was increasingly being replaced by civic engagement. The founding of Bhawanipur Sangeet Sammilani in 1900 fell precisely within this movement. In the course of its more than 100-year history, the association has had many brilliant soireas: Bade Ghulam Ali Khan could be heard there as well as Ali Akbar Khan, Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan. But today's greats such as Rashid Khan, Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar or Veena Sahashrabudhhe are regular guests.

The glorious history is reflected in the Sammilani concert hall on the walls, which are about four meters high - they are hung up to the ceiling with paintings by famous music masters and give the room a uniquely time-honored flair. Otherwise, however, it is rather simple: the floor space covered with carpeting is hardly larger than a very, very spacious living room. One looks in vain for chairs; there are only a few simple benches on the walls all around. You sit cross-legged on the floor. A couple of low platforms, covered with white sheets, serve as a stage. In relation to this, the sound technology is surprisingly complex: Each instrument has its own microphone, including the tanpura, mixer and loudspeakers are state-of-the-art and even large monitor boxes for the artists are in front of the small stage. This effort would not necessarily be necessary in the relatively small room - the music would certainly be easy to hear even without amplification. But the special charm of the unamplified natural sound seems to be largely unknown in India. A certain strong basic volume is simply part of everything.

The program for this evening will be the sitarist Partha Chatterjee and a singing Indian from abroad who lives in Canada. I would rather remain silent about the Indian from abroad - her intonation was so painful that I only knew how to help myself by actively listening away and leaving the hall after her first piece. It remains a mystery to me how this lady got the invitation to the Sammilani concert. Sitarist Partha Chatterjee, on the other hand, turned out to be a real feast for the ears with Raga Bihag. The captivating clarity of his raga interpretation, the vocal musicality of his phrasing, his perfect proportions of the various formal elements and the organic flow of his creativity are pure delight. His playing in Alap, Jor and slow Gat should be among the finest that Indian classical music has to offer today. Only his fast gats and tanas often seemed unnecessarily strained and over-ambitious. It's good that the brilliant tablet companion Ashok Mukherjee was always on hand with sovereign ease and joy of playing.

As great as the music performed, the audience response is so meager. Of the approximately 25-30 visitors, half were relatives and students of the artist and the other half were Sammilani activists of retirement age. Now Partha Chatterjee is certainly not one of the raga superstars that are popular today, who fill the halls simply because of their cult status, which is spread in all media. But even a decent niche audience of music lovers is apparently difficult to mobilize in Calcutta in view of the large cultural offer and the increasing commercialization and concentration of all areas of life. But it is also possible that the basic idea of ​​civic engagement in cultural associations is no longer up-to-date today - the time-honored patina of Sammilani looks a bit dusty and anything but hip. Even such a traditional association needs active young members and fresh ideas again and again in order not to miss the connection and to stay lively.

There is a small visual impression of the Bhawanipur Sangeet Sammilani on Youtube - Anirban Bhattacharyya sings Raga Rageshri.


5. Restricted operation - June / July
- Company info -

Our managing director Norbert Klippstein is from 4th to 8th June. and from 30.6. - 15.7. on holiday. Unfortunately, India Instruments shipping and loading can only work to a very limited extent during this time. E-mail traffic, on the other hand, is not affected - we continue to answer all inquiries quickly and take orders and reservations. As far as we can, we will also try to process and dispatch orders as promptly as possible. Small orders in particular can be expected to be processed relatively well.

On the other hand, larger instruments may have to be shipped from 11.6. or from July 16. be moved. If possible, orders for larger instruments should be received by us no later than 3 working days before the holiday periods, if they are to be dispatched before that. Urgent and appointment orders can unfortunately not be processed during vacation times. Visits to the Berlin store are only possible to a limited extent and by prior arrangement. We apologize for this inconvenience!

6. Concert calendar - June / July
- Scene info -

On May 11thIndian Trade Minister Anand Sharma opened the "Days of India in Germany" in Hamburg. They were initiated by the Indian government on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and should run until March 2013. However, a program has not yet been published. And the opening reception with a concert by the great violinist L. Subramaniam only took place in front of invited guests in camera. In view of this secrecy, it will be interesting to see whether one or the other special concert will take place within the framework of the "Days of India in Germany" - or whether the whole event turns out to be hot air ... Meanwhile, committed private organizers are presenting in painstakingly , chronically underfunded legwork, some concert highlights again in the coming summer months:

01.06. MUNICH: PARTHA BOSE - sitar, NIKOLA LUTZ - saxophone, INDRANIL MALLICK - tabla
02.06. FRANKFURT: BHARATHI AVIREDDY - Bharathanatyam dance, SURANGAMA DASGUPTA - Kathak dance
09.06. CH-KREUZLINGEN: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
10.06. COLOGNE: MADRAS SPECIAL R.Shotham (perc), S.Sanjana (Voc), Z.Lantos (violin), C.Zörner (bass)
13.06. CH-THUN: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
14.06. CH-ST GALLEN: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
June 15 CH-BASEL: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
16.06. CH-BERN: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
June 20 CH-WINTERTHUR: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
06/21 CH-LIESTAL: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
22.06. CH-LUCERNE: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
June 23 A-LINZ: RINA CHANDRA - Bansuri, GERHARD ROSNER - violin
June 23 CH-LAUSANNE: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
06/24 FRANKFURT: SINGING STRINGS 2x sitar, vocals & tabla
06/30 HILDESHEIM: YOGENDRA - sitar solo

More detailed information, place and time as well as further dates for 2012 can be found on our concert calendar, as always.

7. Indian Classical (3/7) - North and South
- Background info fromYogendra -

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 (3/7) North & South India: Two Great Traditions

Common roots

In classical Indian music today there are two great traditions that differ significantly in the instruments used, in the repertoire, vocabulary and the musical forms: Hindustani music in the north and Carnatic music in the south. But they have common roots in Sama-Veda, where musical rules for the use of three to seven notes in the recitation of sacred texts of the Rig-Veda were described. Both music systems are based on raga as a melodic principle and on tala as a rhythmic basis, are unanimously modal, are based on singing as an ideal, are passed down orally by professional musicians, use the seven tone syllables Sa, Re / Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni and place great emphasis on improvisation. It was not until around the 12th century that two different lines of tradition developed from the common elements.

Hindustani music

Hindustani music is cultivated north of the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh throughout India, but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan. It developed through dealing with Persian influences that came to northern India through the Muslim rulers. Stars like Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan and later Zakir Hussain made them famous around the world in the 20th century. Many non-Indians today are so fascinated by Hindustani music that they learn it and, together with the enormously widespread Indian diaspora, ensure that high-class concerts with Hindustani music can also be enjoyed in Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and the Arab Gulf states. Can experience music. Because of this great popularity, the next few installments in this series will be devoted to the styles, performers, and instruments of Hindustani music in greater detail.

Carnatic music

Carnatic music is primarily at home in the four southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which are characterized by Dravidian languages, as well as in the Tamil part of Sri Lanka. Its core is the vocal compositions of great masters, both in class and in concert. The musical structure and the text are equally important. Even if carnatic music is played on an instrument, one orientates oneself on the singing - special instrumental compositions are not common. Improvisation in raga and tala takes up less space than in Hindustani music and is often incorporated into the composition. But with Ragam Tanam Pallavi there is also its own form of improvisation, which consists of three elements that build on each other: In the Ragam, the raga unfolds in a purely melodic manner without any rhythmic connection, in the Tanam the raga melodies are played in a rhythmic pulse and are given in the Pallavi it is a kind of recurring short refrain that is improvised on.

Purandara Dasa and the big three

After Carnatic music had developed independently over several centuries, Purandara Dasa laid the foundations for today's practice in the 16th century. About 1000 songs by him have come down to us, in which he created an exemplary combination of expression, melodic beauty and rhythmic sophistication. He integrated everyday stories and colloquial language into the texts, but also explanations of philosophical topics, thus making the music accessible to a wider audience. But he also developed a teaching method with systematic exercises, according to which carnatic music is taught to this day. Carnatic music experienced a great heyday in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with the three composers Tygaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri. Their works form the core of the modern concert repertoire and they are sometimes venerated almost like saints. Their song lyrics are mostly about religious or philosophical topics.

Carnatic instruments

The basis for the music is the tanpura string instrument with its long neck and spherical resonance body. The open strings of the tanpura are plucked gently and evenly, so that a continuous soundscape results. The sliding melodic movements and the long notes and the rhythmic articulation of the human voice can be imitated particularly well on the violin. The violin is therefore often used in carnatic music to accompany the lead singer. But it can also be used as a solo instrument. The most common solo instrument is the Saraswati-Vina, a fingered and plucked string instrument that at first glance looks similar to the North Indian sitar. Thanks to the great differences in construction and playing technique, the Saraswati-Vina has its own unmistakable sound. The rhythmic accompaniment is also important for carnatic music. The main instrument for this is the powerful cross drum mridangam, which is covered with skins on both sides. Larger ensembles also have a ghatam, a kind of clay pot, the small tambourine kanjira and the jaw harp Morsing.

Carnatic concerts

A typical Carnatic concert lasts around three hours. At the beginning there are usually several shorter pieces, in the middle a long main piece with Ragam Tanam Pallavi and towards the end several shorter and easier pieces. Often there is also a separate percussion part. If several percussionists are present, this often results in rousing rhythmic dialogues. The high season for concerts in December and January is the six-week Madras Music Season in Chennai, one of the largest cultural festivals in the world. In Central Europe, on the other hand, Carnatic music can unfortunately only rarely be experienced live.

CDs with Carnatic Music:
* Singing
* Instruments
* Percussion

Information and audio examples on carnatic instruments:
* Saraswati vina
* Mridangam
* Ghatam
* Kanjira