Tag Archives: Anoushka Shankar

Endless Road: the Continuing Evolution of the Sitar

Text by Dawoud Kringle

Not long ago, I had an interesting experience.

Some time ago I attended a performance at The Stone in New York City with Steve Gorn and Curtis Bahn. Gorn played flute, bansuri, and percussion, and Bahn played electronic sitar, esraj, and laptop. As I sat on the floor in the uncomfortably hot and humid room, I was enraptured by the multi-layered sounds of the two masters. Gorn is no stranger to listeners of Indian classical music. Additionally, he has a background in classical and non-classical western music; trained in jazz and electronic music. Bahn, a student of Ustad Shaheed Parvez Khan, and computer programmer, had commissioned the building of a completely different instrument that combined the sitar with new design technologies, and unprecedented electronics, including a computer interface. The instrument has WII controller – motion sensors / physical sensors, pitch sensor, accent sensor, etc. The bow of his esraj was outfitted with a motion sensor. These all ran through a laptop with a program he wrote. The duo made marvelous use of both acoustic and electronic sounds, blending them perfectly within their improvisations. Samples were looped, tabla tarang sounds held down intricate rhythms. The overall concert was astonishingly beautiful. It was a music that spoke of a timeless truth. I left the Stone with a refreshed outlook on everything; something the best musical performances should do for the audience.

Not long afterward, my friend Sohrab (who publishes this magazine) started bugging me for the article I promised him. Naturally, I said “Yeah, I’ll get right on it” (poor Sohrab; he hears that from me all too often.) But, after some rumination, I abandoned the idea of writing a review. There was something else happening here; evidence of something greater.

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A Profound Silence Descends: Pandit Ravi Shankar Dead at 92.

By Dawoud Kringle

On December 11th, 2012 (the day before the arcane and mystically suggestive date of 12/12/12), the world lost a musical giant: Ravi Shankar.

Photo courtesy of m3com

He was one of those unique people who single handedly changed musical history. Yet this was not confined within his culture and musical tradition: he changed it for the whole world.

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Concert review: Anoushka Shankar forging the link – separated by a thousand years – between Spanish and Indian music…

Date: April 6 – 8, 2012
Venue: City Winery (NY)
Concert review by Dawoud Kringle

The idea of blending two different cultural influences in art or music is not new. In fact, the idea has been going on for centuries. It is only now that it is so noticeable, due to the process being accelerated by communication and other technology.
A recent intriguing step in this path is the CD and tour by Anoushka Shankar; daughter of illustrious sitarist and musical ambassador Ravi Shankar. No stranger to multicultural experiments, Shankar has brought about an intriguing blend of Indian raga and Spanish flamenco. According to historical evidence, flamenco’s distant roots are in 9th century India. Punjabi “untouchables” fled persecution and wandered the Middle East and Asia; eventually settling in Europe. There has been, however, little speculation of the common roots of the theory of this music.


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