Ravi Shankar, sitarist and composer, April 7, 1920-December 11, 2012
With Ali Akbar Khan (sarod), et al., “Bangla Dhun,” New York (The Concert for Bengladesh), 1971
art beat: Art Institute of Chicago
Here’s my one-word review of the newly opened gallery of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, where, Tuesday morning (after a hearing at the nearby federal court building), sunlight was streaming through the windows: stunning.
In my own listening, I have sometimes felt that a raga symbolizes the states of a person’s life in reverse order. The open-ended introduction, or the alap, with its meditative quality, seems to reflect the wisdom of the elder sage, or sannyasin. As the raga progresses, and the rhythmic pulse and melodic development begins, one meets the adult in full control of his or her faculties in the prime of life. There is a healthy balance between bursts of improvisation and the observance of structure. Toward the end, as the raga accelerates and approaches a climax, one enters the childlike realm, where the desire to display virtuosity is strongest, and the performers throw caution to the wind and go for broke. But for many musicians and connoisseurs, this is where the raga has lost its purity, with the delicate opening alap seen as the “true essence” of raga.—Peter Lavezzoli, The Dawn of Indian Music in the West (2006)
A musician must lift up the souls of the listeners, and take them towards Space.—Nikhil Banerjee
Zakir Hussain on Ali Akbar Khan (following his death last year)
Yehudi Menuhin on Ali Akbar Khan
An absolute genius . . . the greatest musician in the world.
Philip Glass on Indian Music
The thing I learned from Ravi [Shankar] is that the rhythmic structure could become an overall musical structure. In our Western tradition that’s simply not the case. . . . There [India], rhythm is used in the way that timbre and pitch and other aspects are used. In the West we have an alliance between harmony and melody. That’s the basic alliance: rhythm comes along to liven things up. . . . There [India], the tension is between the melody and the rhythm, not between the melody and the harmony. . . . The moment that the tala, or the rhythmic structure, comes up and meets against the melodic structure at the sum—when the beats come together—that’s the resolution in Indian music. The complications that the cyclic rhythmic structure can create, and the effects to the melodic development, open up a whole different way of thinking about music. And that’s basically what I heard. I knew nothing like that in my own personal experience, or in any Western music that I knew.—Philip Glass (in William Duckworth, Talking Music )
Ali Akbar Khan on Music
For us, as a family, music is like food. When you need it you don’t have to explain why, because it is basic to life.