Thursday, May 29, 2008

Shuddha Sarang :: Anoushka Shankar

I'm a sucker for sitar.

One of my life dreams is to learn to play it. Some day. This is a very lofty aspiration.

In the meantime, I deeply admire the sitar playing of others. Anoushka Shankar is one of those people. Her talent is immense. And she has large shoes to fill - she is daughter of the masterful Ravi Shankar, the incredible musician that revolutionized sitar playing and popularized the instrument, as well as Indian music on the whole, to Western audiences. Like, uh, for example, when the Beatles started doing drugs and started making way cooler music, George (my favorite) pulled in Ravi for sitar lessons.


Anoushka is remarkable in her own right. She is intelligent and well spoken. I listened to a fascinating interview with her on "Speaking of Faith" on NPR about approaching prayer (check it). And she plays WICKED sitar. She has been performing since the age of 13. Crazy.

I love the complexity of sitar music. The time signatures and pitch possibilities are far more diverse than Western musical structures. I think it is like ear candy. I lose myself in it completely.

Today I am choosing the piece "Shuddha Sarang", off her album Anourag, from 2000. This album is entirely music composed by Ravi, and even features a duet. This is a great album. "Shuddha Sarang" is an early afternoon raga. What's a raga? A raga is a series notes that form a melody by specific rules, upon which the musician improvises. Ragas are connected to specific times or day or seasons, and form the basis for traditional Indian music. If you want to know more about ragas, look here.

I love listening to this piece in the morning - regardless of its 'early afternoon' association. The way it builds is remarkable. I have found peace and rejuvenation in this piece for years. I hope you enjoy it...all 12:43 minutes!

Here's the catch: pressing "play" below only plays a small sample segment. If you click "download", another window will open that will allow you to the play the whole song AND you don't actually have to download anything.

Shuddha Sarang - Anoushka Shankar

Random fact that you may or may not know: Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones are half-sisters.


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