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Improvisation
& the theme from Pather Panchali

Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar - Improvisation & the theme from Pather Panchali Ravi Shankar - Improvisation & the theme from Pather Panchali
33IRavi Shankar1

World-Pacific Records...WP-1416...[1961]...33 1/3 LP...Stereo

Side 1
1) Improvisation On The Theme Music From Pather Panchali - Ravi Shankar...7:00
2) Fire Night - Ravi Shankar...4:30
3) Karnataki - Not Given...6:35

Side 2
Raga Rageshri:
1) Part 1 (Alap) - Not Given...6:52
2) Part 2 (Jor) - Not Given...11:00
3) Part 3 (Gat) - Not Given...3:17

Ravi Shankar - Improvisation & the theme from Pather Panchali Label Ravi Shankar - Improvisation & the theme from Pather Panchali Label

ON THE BACK OF THE JACKET

recorded at
WORLD-PACIFIC STUDIOS
Hollywood, California

RAVI SHANKAR, one of India´s greatest performers and her leading musical ambassador abroad, is becoming increasingly well known to American audiences through his several long-playing records and in concert appearances across the country.
The present performance took place in November of 1961, in the course of an extensive coast-to-coast tour sponsored by the Asia Society Performing Arts Program, as his first album for World Pacific (WP-1248: Ravi Shankar, India´s Master Musician) came out of a shorter tour in 1957.

His latest recording, more than any other, serves to illustrate the wide range of Ravi´s musical interests, and includes an improvisation on the theme music which he composed for the prize winning film Pather Panchali, an experiment in combining the Indian idiom with jazz, an improvisation on a raga from the South Indian system, and a long development of one raga in the serene mood which is at the same time the most classical and the most profoundly beautiful style of performance for the seasoned listener to Indian music.

KANAI DUTTA, making his first appearance in America, is one of the outstanding young tabia players in India. A native of Calcutta, he studied both tabia and the ancient barrel shaped drum, pakhawaj, with several teachers, including the celebrated Jnan Ghosh. Since 1955, he has performed frequently with Ravi Shankar and is one of his favorite accompanists. It is customary for Indian instrumentalists to perform with many different drummers, but as in jazz, long association gives the players an understanding of each other´s musical personality which enables them to integrate the improvisation with great subtlety of phrasing and mood.

NODU MULLICK has the important, if less glamorous responsibility of providing the drone background on the stringed instrument, tampura. He too is a trained musician and tabia player, but he is best known as a master craftsman who makes superb instruments entirely by hand, perhaps just one sitar every two or three years. He has for years made all of Ravi Shankar´s sitars, including the magnificent instrument heard on this recording.

HARIHAR RAO, who plays the dholak in Fire Night, and second tampura for the classical pieces, is a young sitarist who has studied with Ravi Shankar for a number of years. He is at present teaching sitar and tabia at the Institute of Ethnc musicology, University of California at Los Angeles.

BUD SHANK is a well known jazz musician who has been heard on a number of World-Pacific and Pacific Jazz record records. On Fire Night, in addition to Shank, are heard DENNIS BUDIMIR (guitar), GARY PEACOCK (bass), and *LOUIS HAYES (drums).

SIDE I
IMPROVISATION ON THE THEME MUSIC FROM PATHER PANCHALI: Ravi Shankar´s wide-ranging music; interests have led him into the field of music for films, in Canada and Europe as well as in India. He is probably be; known for the score to the moving trilogy Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu, directed by Satyajit Ray. Taking the poignant theme which he composed in the style of certain Bengali pastoral songs, and which runs through the three pictures as a kind of leitmotiv, Shankar here improvises upon it in three rhythmic modes, of 7, 6, and 8 beats respectively. In between the theme is heard on the flute, as it was so appropriately in the films. For this performance, instead of the bamboo flute (which is the Bengali instrument, par excellence). Bud Shank plays in Indian style, with notable success, on his western instrument.

FIRE NIGHT: In this exciting musical first, we find the lively Ravi Shankar branching out in a new direction. As an experiment in combining jazz with Indian melodic and rhythmic modes, it comes off surprisingly well, and may well open a new road for the future in a time when many composers and jazz musicians seem to have less interest in harmony that in new conceptions of melody and rhythm. Although he does not perform himself, Ravi composed the tune that forms springboard for the improvisation, using an Indian pentatonic raga, Dhani, which strikes him as a characteristic one for jazz. The Indian instruments used are all percussive—tabia, dhola (a barrel-shaped folk drum), damaru (hourglass drum), and manjira (small thick hand cymbals, about four inches in diameter, made of bell metal).

The piece was recorded at the time of the great fires which devastated large areas of Los Angeles in the fall of 1961, and reflects the emotion and excitement of the holocaust. The first sound heard is the damaru, an ancient drum associated with Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. After working out a simple framework of the order of entrances, Ravi Shankar turned the musicians loose to improvise upon his tune, with results which are not quite Indian and not quite jazz, but have a happy naturalness which bodes well for future musical meetings of East and West.

KARNATAKI: The raga Kiruvani (similar to the western harmonic minor scale) is one of several modes of the Karnataki; or South Indian, system of classical music which Ravi Shankar has helped to popularize in North India. Although the Hindustani and Karnataki ragas are based on the same fundamental of theory, they differ in matters of ornamentation and phrase, and often in scale structure, and are distinct musical dialects of the same language. Indians at opposite ends of the subcontinent usually find it difficult to enjoy each others´ music. Here, although the raga scale is typically Karnataki, the performer plays in Hindustani style and is able gradually to increase the tempo, for instance, something which a South Indian would not do in his own style of playing. The improvisation begins immediately around a gat (or short composition) in medium Tecntal of 16 beats, and builds to a second gat in Teental, this time in dhruta laya or fast tempo.

The, impromptu dialogue between sitai and tabla toward the end is a feature which Ravi Shankar has emphasized in recent performances, and one which provides the inexperienced listener with an immediate appreciation for the rapport and imaginative exchange between the two performers which is one of the constant delights of improvisation in Indian classical music.

SIDE II
RÃGA RÃGESHRI: The final selection presents Ravi Shankar in the intimate and introspective mood which Indian music can express to perfection. The ideal classical performance of a raga includes a long alap, or improvisation in free rhythm, during which the artist leads himself and his listeners further: and further into the mystery of the particular mood he is creating. Slowly, for there is time for such things in India, he exposes a grand panorama of tone, unique to the raga, he is playing, and it is only after he has shown the whole melodic landscape in utmost detail that a more organized rhythm begins to emerge in the jor. The rhythm grows, often reaching the stage called jhala, in which the melody soars majestically above a tremendously fast and exhilarating plucking of the drone strings. The jhala merges into a short composed piece in the strict metrical cycle of the tola, around which the performer improvises. The beginning of this little composition (the gat) and the establishment of a particular tala is always marked by the entrance of the tabla. The two instruments may build the improvisation toward a climax, often almost overwhelming because of the long development of mood and rhythm which has preceded it. In India, performance of a single raga in such, a manner may last for an hour or even longer.

RÃgeshri is an evening raga, and can be thought of as a major scale which omits the fifth altogether, and leaves out the second degree in its ascending form. Either the major or the minor seventh may be used, depending on the course of the melody. For this recording two tampuras were used and sound the fourth and sixth as well as the tonic of the raga scale. The performer moves, out slowly from a narrow tonal area, greeting each new tone of the raga like an old friend revisted. Gradually the melody descends to the expressive lower range of the sitar, where the improvisation is more in the style of that ancient and noble instrument, the vina. Eventually the phrases begin to group themselves about the slow steady beat which marks the section known as jor. As the tempo increases a particular type of rapidly oscillating ornamentation known as gamak in vocal music makes its appearance. Jhala is omitted in this presentation, but a short improvisation is developed with the tabla around a beautiful gat in Rupak tal of seven beat, bringing to a close a sensitive demonstration of a raga performed in the finest classical style by Ravi Shankar, a man who is not only a great virtuoso but a great musician as well, and one who is as bold a musical pioneer as he is a superlative exponent of the rich tradition of Indian classical music.

Robert E. Brown
Assistant Professor of Music
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn.

* A Richard Bock Procuction * Cover design & all photos by Woody Woodward * Audio by Richard Bock *
* Louise Hayes is heard by arrangement with Vee Jay Records *
WORLD-PACIFIC RECORDS * A Subsidiary of Pacific Enterprises, Inc. HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA



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Joe´s Music Rack
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YOUR KEY TO COLLECTIBLES© 1997

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