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Discussing the techniques, philosophy, histories, and instruments of classical Indian music and interviewing Ravi Shankar

BROADCAST: Oct. 26, 1961 | DURATION: 00:53:53

Synopsis

Discussing the techniques, philosophy, histories, and instruments of classical Indian music with Ravi Shankar. Includes Ravi Shankar playing the sitar, tambura, and tabla among other instruments.

Transcript

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Studs Terkel [Live music in background] This music, as you may have guessed, is the music of India. This morning, seated on the floor of the studio, are three musicians, three artists from India, the leader, the world's finest player of the sitar, perhaps one of the world's finest virtuoso instrumentalists, Ravi Shankar, his accompanying colleague at the tabla, quite possibly the finest tabla player, the double drum player, Kanai Dutta, and the supporting artist on the tambura, which we hear, Mr. [M.C. Malek?]. Mr. Shankar, we're delighted this morning to have you as our guest, and we're honored, too.

Ravi Shankar Namaste.

Studs Terkel This station -- What was the phrase you used?

Ravi Shankar I said, "Namaste." This is the greeting from India. We say, "Namaste." It means, "Hello," "Good morning," "Goodbye," anything, any form of

Studs Terkel That's a perfect way for us to open the day, too and later on perhaps we know you will offer us demonstrations of the, of the raga, or the basic musical pattern of India that I know is adapted to every mood of the day, every mood of the season, and life, immediately as I look at you now seated across the microphone, how would you describe -- We think of the raga, I hear this phrase a lot, I know that we in the Western world are not too well acquainted with the nature, the meaning, of the music of India itself. We know that centuries old, we hear the word 'raga' used.

Ravi Shankar Well, I'll try to explain in as few words I can. It's really hard to explain a raga, you know. You see, it is not a scale, neither it is modal like the Grecian modes. It is not a mode. The ragas are actually based on scales. We in India have like the major and minor here. We have got 72 full octave scales. 72, mind you. And on this 72, on the each of the scale of 72 scales, there are quite a number of ragas, which means we have got hundreds and thousands of ragas. Now, each of these ragas are associated with different phase of the morning, day, noon, afternoon, evening, night, etc. Not only that, each of these ragas have got their own sentiment, their own mood. You see, they -- Actually in the olden days they signified different pictures. There are old paintings from Rajput paintings, Mughal paintings, on the ragas, you see, of course, which means that each raga is to convey a particular mood and sentiment but the artist while performing, either singing or on the instrument, always had some liberties to give his own version, you know. And as I said, based on the scale, this raga again has its own ascending descending moment. I'll just give you a little example, for instance. Now, this is what we call shankara [unintelligible] or bilawal thaat, it has both the names, which is equivalent to the major scale, for instance. [Music].

Studs Terkel This we understand.

Ravi Shankar Well, this is one of our scales, and on this scale, we have got I would say hundreds of ragas. [Vendetonic?] ragas, [music] or even full scale ragas [music], but what I'm playing actually are the skeletons of the ragas, or rather known as the ascending and descending movement of the ragas. The moment we start playing raga, there are a lot of other things like using the slides. You know this slide. What is known as slide, and little quarter tones, which is usually we make usage not in a static way. For instance, we won't use a note like this [music], we won't use it like this, but we will use it, in a, it's almost like heighten the emotional [music] and you see. Just slide it, not use it directly, the quarter tones, that is. That's why we choose a raga. In India actually we play ragas of that particular time. For instance, we don't usually play the evening raga in the morning or vice versa, but after choosing the raga the other thing we have to bear in mind, that duration of the performance, for instance. Whether I'm going to perform for one and half hour or two hour one raga, or whether I'm going to perform it for three minutes. For instance, in the 78 discs or I perform for 15 minutes. You see, once we know that, we can start the performance, the recital, accordingly, you see.

Studs Terkel So the raga then, one raga may last for an hour or it may last for three minutes?

Ravi Shankar Oh, it can last for three hours, four hours in the hand of a good musician who knows, who has learnt and really has an experience. And in India I never play a raga less than one and a half hour. At least.

Studs Terkel So the fact that there is this much variation of the raga, even the variations you just hinted at, indicated based on this one scale, elementary scale, is only one of a thousand variations of the manner in which it can be used and it always I sense is connected with the emotion, the feeling of the moment of the artist.

Ravi Shankar Yes. No, you see, when you say the variation, variation comes afterwards. When we choose a raga, a raga has its own shape. As I told you, it has -- Each raga is like a different personality, different person. Some of them are very playful. Some of them are very erotic. Some of them are tranquil. Some of them are, you know, full of petals. So once we decide the raga we have to as much as possible keep the personality of the raga intact. But as I told you, the artist does have a bit of freedom to give his own, you know. And as I told you after deciding the duration of the recital, that duration of the raga, we do the improvising accordingly. When I know that I have to perform 15 minutes on one raga, you see, I do everything proportionately according to that 15 minutes and the usual procedure in our music is to start slow and get faster and faster and end in a climax. That's the usual.

Studs Terkel Are there three elements, are there three steps to the raga? There's the first, isn't that, which is called the invocation?

Ravi Shankar Yes, what is known as alap, and that is the actually the solo playing. The solo sitar playing and that is how we start, the alap. It is a very slow soft sitting movement. Actually I would say it is very spiritual and very introverted, you see, it hasn't got all those extrovert, playing for the gallery, things. It is very, very spiritual and one has to understand our music really much more deeply to really understand the alap because it is completely emotional. And the second movement is the jhor, actually that's where the element of rhythm is added and the later movements are known as jhalla because there's

Studs Terkel And throughout there is improvisation allowed for the artist.

Ravi Shankar improvisation is all the time. It's this train system you see it is like being bound down in a system, it's very rigid, the raga. When we choose a raga and play the raga we cannot go out of the raga, but at the same time we have all the freedom in the world.

Studs Terkel Within that framework.

Ravi Shankar Within that framework.

Studs Terkel

Ravi Shankar [Live music in background] This music, as you may have guessed, is the music of India. This morning, seated on the floor of the studio, are three musicians, three artists from India, the leader, the world's finest player of the sitar, perhaps one of the world's finest virtuoso instrumentalists, Ravi Shankar, his accompanying colleague at the tabla, quite possibly the finest tabla player, the double drum player, Kanai Dutta, and the supporting artist on the tambura, which we hear, Mr. [M.C. Malek?]. Mr. Shankar, we're delighted this morning to have you as our guest, and we're honored, too. Namaste. This station -- What was the phrase you used? I said, "Namaste." This is the greeting from India. We say, "Namaste." It means, "Hello," "Good morning," "Goodbye," anything, any form of greeting. That's a perfect way for us to open the day, too and later on perhaps we know you will offer us demonstrations of the, of the raga, or the basic musical pattern of India that I know is adapted to every mood of the day, every mood of the season, and life, immediately as I look at you now seated across the microphone, how would you describe -- We think of the raga, I hear this phrase a lot, I know that we in the Western world are not too well acquainted with the nature, the meaning, of the music of India itself. We know that centuries old, we hear the word 'raga' used. Well, I'll try to explain in as few words I can. It's really hard to explain a raga, you know. You see, it is not a scale, neither it is modal like the Grecian modes. It is not a mode. The ragas are actually based on scales. We in India have like the major and minor here. We have got 72 full octave scales. 72, mind you. And on this 72, on the each of the scale of 72 scales, there are quite a number of ragas, which means we have got hundreds and thousands of ragas. Now, each of these ragas are associated with different phase of the morning, day, noon, afternoon, evening, night, etc. Not only that, each of these ragas have got their own sentiment, their own mood. You see, they -- Actually in the olden days they signified different pictures. There are old paintings from Rajput paintings, Mughal paintings, on the ragas, you see, of course, which means that each raga is to convey a particular mood and sentiment but the artist while performing, either singing or on the instrument, always had some liberties to give his own version, you know. And as I said, based on the scale, this raga again has its own ascending descending moment. I'll just give you a little example, for instance. Now, this is what we call shankara [unintelligible] or bilawal thaat, it has both the names, which is equivalent to the major scale, for instance. [Music]. This we understand. Well, this is one of our scales, and on this scale, we have got I would say hundreds of ragas. [Vendetonic?] ragas, [music] or even full scale ragas [music], but what I'm playing actually are the skeletons of the ragas, or rather known as the ascending and descending movement of the ragas. The moment we start playing raga, there are a lot of other things like using the slides. You know this slide. What is known as slide, and little quarter tones, which is usually we make usage not in a static way. For instance, we won't use a note like this [music], we won't use it like this, but we will use it, in a, it's almost like heighten the emotional [music] and you see. Just slide it, not use it directly, the quarter tones, that is. That's why we choose a raga. In India actually we play ragas of that particular time. For instance, we don't usually play the evening raga in the morning or vice versa, but after choosing the raga the other thing we have to bear in mind, that duration of the performance, for instance. Whether I'm going to perform for one and half hour or two hour one raga, or whether I'm going to perform it for three minutes. For instance, in the 78 discs or I perform for 15 minutes. You see, once we know that, we can start the performance, the recital, accordingly, you see. So the raga then, one raga may last for an hour or it may last for three minutes? Oh, it can last for three hours, four hours in the hand of a good musician who knows, who has learnt and really has an experience. And in India I never play a raga less than one and a half hour. At least. So the fact that there is this much variation of the raga, even the variations you just hinted at, indicated based on this one scale, elementary scale, is only one of a thousand variations of the manner in which it can be used and it always I sense is connected with the emotion, the feeling of the moment of the artist. Yes. No, you see, when you say the variation, variation comes afterwards. When we choose a raga, a raga has its own shape. As I told you, it has -- Each raga is like a different personality, different person. Some of them are very playful. Some of them are very erotic. Some of them are tranquil. Some of them are, you know, full of petals. So once we decide the raga we have to as much as possible keep the personality of the raga intact. But as I told you, the artist does have a bit of freedom to give his own, you know. And as I told you after deciding the duration of the recital, that duration of the raga, we do the improvising accordingly. When I know that I have to perform 15 minutes on one raga, you see, I do everything proportionately according to that 15 minutes and the usual procedure in our music is to start slow and get faster and faster and end in a climax. That's the usual. Are there three elements, are there three steps to the raga? There's the first, isn't that, which is called the invocation? Yes, what is known as alap, and that is the actually the solo playing. The solo sitar playing and that is how we start, the alap. It is a very slow soft sitting movement. Actually I would say it is very spiritual and very introverted, you see, it hasn't got all those extrovert, playing for the gallery, things. It is very, very spiritual and one has to understand our music really much more deeply to really understand the alap because it is completely emotional. And the second movement is the jhor, actually that's where the element of rhythm is added and the later movements are known as jhalla because there's a And throughout there is improvisation allowed for the artist. improvisation is all the time. It's this train system you see it is like being bound down in a system, it's very rigid, the raga. When we choose a raga and play the raga we cannot go out of the raga, but at the same time we have all the freedom in the world. Within that framework. Within that framework. Within Exactly. Put Them.

Studs Terkel No wonder American jazz men go crazy when when they hear your sitar, or when they hear Mr. Dutta's tablas.

Ravi Shankar And you see, when I said solo a little while ago, any form of music, either vocal or instrumental, even when we call it solo, you always hear something else in the background. It is known as the background drone instrument. It is

Studs Terkel The tambura of Mr. [Malek?].

Ravi Shankar This tambura is played by [Malek?]. This is the tambura. [Music]. Actually, the three strings are keeping the tonic all the time as you hear it, and the rest of the two are tuned according to the different ragas, either the third or the fourth or the fifth. And this is also known as the hypnotic drone because it continues all the time being played in the background, you see. And it builds an atmosphere which is very important to us, the musician as well as the listener, and also it keeps in the mind the constant pitch, which is one very important thing, that we never change the pitch in our music. We might change the ragas, you see, whereas in Western music it's very unusual and that is the reason why most of our Western listeners after some time feel that our music is a bit repetitious, which is

Studs Terkel Which is not true.

Ravi Shankar But it is because we don't change the pitch, you see, we keep it keep the tonic all the time the same, we go on changing the ragas but the tambura is always behind maintaining the pitch.

Studs Terkel You see, we too of the West are so unaccustomed to that music which is string, accustomed as we are to harmony. Their harmony itself is not present in Indian music.

Ravi Shankar No, it is not present in our music in the sense that it is known here but it is there in the various subtle way. For instance, the tuning of the tambura itself is in harmony. You know, as I told you, the hypnotic drone because it is tuned to the tonic and the octave and fifth. After some time you start getting the illusion of hearing the, you know, harmonics of that.

Studs Terkel I imagine for a Western listener to truly appreciate Indian music he himself must be seeped in the tradition of India, its centuries old, to really, I mean to fully in all the subtleties and all.

Ravi Shankar Well, that can be said for anything which is foreign, one who has to really try to understand sympathetically, you see.

Studs Terkel All you're asking for is the open ear.

Ravi Shankar Up 'til now our music has been understood or thought of as purely ethnic or exotic or rather like a museum piece. But I tell you our music is alive, full of life and it is not like in many countries music in the Orient country which, you know, which has a lot of folk tunes, a lot of Aboriginal music, but it hasn't got that music which is alive and which is traditional. Ours is very old, as you know. I mean, we have books which mentions our music which are 3000 years old, the books itself, but the music itself is much older because it came directly from our old texts, the Vedas, and like in the Western music, of course, the Gregorian music, the music was associated with the church. Same way, our music was very deeply associated with old spiritual religious life.

Studs Terkel All you're asking for, then, is a sympathetic ear. The artistry alone will take care of the rest. You speak of this music then, every aspect of Indian life, then, is touched by the music, every aspect.

Ravi Shankar Every aspect, only as in the case of Western music classical music. You see, the approach has been more intellectual even the emotional aspect has been very, very much more associated with, I would say, our old -- You see, in olden days the musician has had to be a great yogi also. So yoga, music, religion, all our spiritual occult science, everything was, you know

Studs Terkel Connected. Interrelated. So the musician then has to be a a rounded man, a fully dimensional man in every way, more than just

Ravi Shankar It is through his experience of life he can bring out richer and richer.

Studs Terkel There's a raga, as you say, for every part of the day, for every mood. Obviously you would not be playing an evening raga now. Is there a demonstration, for example, of a music, of a raga, that would fit your mood now while you're seated here in Chicago this time of the day?

Ravi Shankar Well, yes, there's a, as I told you, a raga for every time. For instance, Alhaiya Bilaval, is a raga which is in major scale. I'll just play a

Studs Terkel It's haunting, it's beautiful, and as you as you play this, Mr. Shankar, with your accompanying artist who came in, and we'll ask of Mr. Dutta in a moment and the tablas. I think of what your admirer, Mr. Yehudi Menuhin said, he said listening to you has offered him some of the most inspiring moments of his life as a listener to music. It's interesting that many of the Western classical artists so admire your approach and your colleagues.

Ravi Shankar I have found a lot.

Studs Terkel As you -- Perhaps we should describe the sitar and then discuss perhaps some of the artistry of Mr. Dutta and the tablas. The sitar itself, I've lost count of the strings on up there.

Ravi Shankar Well, I'll show you, you see, it's a big thing, it's nearly four feet in height.

Studs Terkel Five.

Ravi Shankar Four.

Studs Terkel Four feet.

Ravi Shankar Four feet.

Studs Terkel Four

Ravi Shankar And in the [base?] piece you see below it is a gourd. Upper part is made of teak wood. It's completely hollow and there's a small piece of [gourd? gold?] on the top which is also serving as the resonating chamber. There are four strings mainly for playing in two-four rhythm, making it six [music] and below there are 13 sympathetic strings which resonate [music] which is really interesting thing in this instrument, you'll see that it can be played vertically [music] as well as horizontically [music] which gives the effect of vocal music.

Studs Terkel The human voice. So I didn't realize that your fingers move both ways that you can use the strings horizontally as well as vertically.

Ravi Shankar And I pluck the plectrum which I wear in my right hand

Studs Terkel So the sympathetic strings there are the actual strings above. And then there are two ways to direct

Ravi Shankar All together, 19. 19.

Studs Terkel Nineteen all together and there's so many different ways and angles, they say, in playing this.

Ravi Shankar Now about the drums. I'm sure they would like to know. You see, actually this is known as tabla. Tabla. But tabla in reality it is the right hand drum and the left hand drum is known as the baya and both together naturally is known as tabla. Now the tabla is tuned with a hammer. It's actually [music], it's tuned to the tonic mostly. Sometimes you find the tabla tuned in the dominant or the subdominant also. Now, actually like the raga, there's a word called tala. Tala means the rhythmic cycle. Like we have a lot of ragas, there are lots of talas also, of course, much in lesser number, though. There are about 360 different talas mentioned in our old texts but actually in common use we have the rhythmic cycles of the three, four, five, six, seven, eight, the 10, the 12, the 14 and the 16. These are more common in use, these cycles of this number. And of course the unusual ones are the talas of, say, nine, 11, 13, 15, 17, etc. which we play very rarely, and often there are only groups of musicians listening, then we play all this odd number of talas which is very complex actually. But same way, either when the drummer plays a solo or he accompanies a sitar player, for instance, it is the sitar player who chooses what he is going to play, whether he's going to play piece, a slow piece or medium or fast and in what rhythmic cycle or what tala. For instance, he chooses teental, which is a rhythmic cycle of 16. Then the moment he starts, it is by experience, actually, for a number of years, the tabla player immediately finds out what tala it is, and he starts accompanying him. And while accompanying, the main thing is that one has to know where is the starting point, which is the one, or the sum. To us, that is very important, you see. Unless we keep track of that starting point one, or the sum, you really cannot enjoy the music, because we always improvise and come back on that one and that is something which our listeners, most of them, that is, not all, they know it and that's what they enjoy.

Studs Terkel The starting point, there's an old phrase, if you know where to start, you know where you will end.

Ravi Shankar Yes, exactly. It's known as the sum.

Studs Terkel The sum.

Ravi Shankar Sum, yes. Now, for instance before we ask Mr. Dutta to give a little solo performance, I would like you to know another thing. You see, while he will be playing, he will be saying also certain things which will play immediately, which means there's a language of the drums which is not something like you have heard [Vedanic?] is saying, I suppose, because it is really an old thing we have in India, it is traditional way of saying these things and anything that can be played can be spoken. For instance, we'll start with the alphabets at the right-hand drum, the tabla: [Indian] [music]; now the left-hand drum, the baya: [Indian] [music]; now, both hands together: [Indian] [music]. Now small phrases: [Indian] [music]; now [Indian] [music]. You see, by pressure of the wrist and the left hand, he gets, almost one can get one and half octave. Then there are more complicated what we call bols, like: [Indian] [music]. You see, things like that. So now, I'll ask Kanai Dutta to play little pieces from different taal to help you understand the cycles. Now, we'll start with the taal or the written cycles known as rupak, which is a cycle of seven beats. Divisions are three, two, two, like that. One, two, three, one, two, three, four, one. I'll be keeping the beat with my hand, you see, to help you understand. [Music]. This was a rhythmic cycle known as rupak. Now listen to a rhythmic cycle known as jhaptaal, which is a cycle of ten, ten beats. The divisions are two, three, two, three. So what we do, we keep the beats like this: one, two, one, two, three, one, two, one, two, three, one, two, three, four, five, six, in six we don't clap, you see, we do the hand inside like this: six, seven, eight, nine, ten, one, two, three, four, five [Indian] [music]. Now we'll hear a little piece in teentaal, that is

Studs Terkel There's an American phrase to describe all this, Mr. Ravi Shankar and Mr. Dutta: Wow.

Ravi Shankar No, we say "[Vaa?]!" You know, you might have heard me saying we in India when the music goes on, actually we don't wait 'til the end to applause. We wait for -- Don't wait 'til the end, I say. Even the audience, when there's something very exciting and interesting, they shout, "[Ah ha ha! Vaahaava?]!"

Studs Terkel As it's going on, and this, of course, helps build the enthusiasm of the artists, too.

Ravi Shankar Between ask the musicians.

Studs Terkel And here I wish, this is a matter, not only is this audio exciting to watch, but visually, too.

Ravi Shankar Exactly.

Studs Terkel As Mr. Dutta was watching you and you were watching him.

Ravi Shankar And there is one more thing, you see. We have entered the sign when we are at times silent. But we sort of shake our head from side to side like this. You know, it has been misunderstood many times by our listeners as if we are disapproving when we do like this.

Studs Terkel The opposite.

Ravi Shankar Yes, but actually means appreciation, is saying, it's like saying "[Va va?]! Very nice, wonderful." Like

Studs Terkel Also emotionally move, too, I suppose, this is emotional movement, too, as well.

Ravi Shankar When it is very deep, then you don't sort of speak out, you just say like this.

Studs Terkel I'm sure this is the way the audience reacts when they hear Mr. Dutta and you and Mr. [Malek?] play. The language of the tabla, the language is manifold. There are so many, you say it could be the human voice, it's the talking. I don't use the phrase 'talking drums,' we associate this with

Ravi Shankar It's not actually talking, but what I mean to say, each sound can be pronounced and that's how we write down also. The pieces of drums can be written down the same way it is spoken, like a notation. And talking of notation, I am sure you

Studs Terkel I was just about to ask you about the role you've played in the notation of Indian music. Isn't it true that's been oral to a great extent for centuries

Ravi Shankar Yes, our music, you see, has been, is basically oral and not visual. That's very -- The main difference from the Western music and our music and it has been handed down from one person to the other through generations, you know, like that. Of course, we have our notation system which is like the 'sol fa' system; you know, each of our notes are like 'do re mi fa sol la ti do,' we call them 'sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa.' And calling them by names we have short initials for each notes either in Hindi or Roman letter. For instance, we might write 's' for sa, 'r' for re, 'g' for ga, etc. And that's how we write our notation and the time measure is set of there are signs below the initials and this notation system is good enough for us really, because we only use it for keeping records, mostly, of old songs, fixed pieces, you know, like in our music and also the new forms like the film scores or the ballet music or different sort of orchestral pieces that has to be written down because it's not improvised music, it's fixed music, so those are the things we usually write down and it is read by the musicians the same way as it is done here and they can play. Of course, it needs for a little detail things like the usage of quarter tone and those little, you know, things we have to tell them.

Studs Terkel Thinking about your contributions not only as a notator of Indian music, earlier you mentioned the musician of India must be a man of many parts, a man of many interests and many talents. We think of you, Mr. Ravi Shankar, not only the finest sitar player of India and leading composer, but you founded the India all-state radio. You have written for film, for ballet, you've been a dancer, too, with your brother

Ravi Shankar Yes,

Studs Terkel For a while, Uday Shankar.

Ravi Shankar A dancer as well.

Studs Terkel Perhaps the movie filmed first, a number of Chicagoans I know have seen the marvelous trilogy, or at least one of them, of Satyajit Ray.

Ravi Shankar Yes,

Studs Terkel The film director, "Pather Panchali," "Aparajito" and there's a third film, "World of

Ravi Shankar -- "The World of

Studs Terkel And what many of us remember, is the soundtrack you were the composer but you were the only instrumentalist, and there's one scene that I think everyone who has seen this film can never forget: In "Pather Panchali," I notice Mr. Dutta is smiling, he rememberd, we talked about this earlier, in "Pather Panchali," as the girl dies, the mother screams. We do not hear her voice but we hear your sitar.

Ravi Shankar No, it was

Studs Terkel Whatever it was, that

Ravi Shankar It was a bowed instrument.

Studs Terkel But that was yours.

Ravi Shankar Yes. No. I'll tell you. It was very interesting working for "Pather Panchali" because you see, when Satyajit Ray asked me to do the music score, he actually wanted me to take three, four days at least, you know, for recording and sing it. And I thought that I would like to see the whole film once, and we saw it complete film once, and after that the studio, sound studio was taken for three, four days at least in continuation, mostly three, four nights because we like to work in the night there. It's quieter and cooler and much better. So after I had seen the whole film once, I was so moved and it really got me so deep in my mind and I immediately sort of had this theme music in my mind which you remember, perhaps.

Studs Terkel Please.

Ravi Shankar [Music]. This I -- It came to me spontaneously while I was seeing the picture for the first time. And then in the nighttime from 10 o'clock we started the work. I had only three musicians with me. One flautist for the wind instrument and one bowed instrument player and one drummer. That is all. Just three, and myself four. So having seen it in the afternoon as I told you, I had everything completely in my mind and I utilized the theme music as much as possible again and again, on different instruments, on solo instruments as well as together, and then the main little pieces where there dramatic moments. They were just done on the spot. You know, seeing the film once and I told them there was no need to write them down, also. And would you believe me that I think it's all-time record that we finished the whole music, the music for the whole film, that is, in four hours and 15 minutes.

Studs Terkel That's fantastic!

Ravi Shankar Four hours and

Studs Terkel You had it all in your mind. Then it was all in your mind.

Ravi Shankar And the music of "Pather Panchali" was done in that short time, four hours

Studs Terkel So that one moment, that was a bowed instrument, then.

Ravi Shankar Yes.

Studs Terkel When the mother screamed.

Ravi Shankar Exactly.

Studs Terkel But it had a vocal, a feeling as to what you're able to do, as though you heard

Ravi Shankar -- Let the shriek,

Studs Terkel shriek. Her voice even more

Ravi Shankar Yes.

Studs Terkel Even more than if she actually did it

Ravi Shankar Exactly.

Studs Terkel Because it was beyond reality.

Ravi Shankar Because, you see, it was the emotion of her having been very hard and kept her sorrow and not, you know, breaking out. But when the father gives her the sari, or the cloth that he has brought from the city for the girl, she breaks out absolutely emotionally.

Studs Terkel There's another moment in that second film, I'm sure a number of the listeners will remember, this "Aparajito," the second film, when the father dies.

Ravi Shankar Yes, those

Studs Terkel The pigeons flew! What was the instrument then?

Ravi Shankar That was sitar.

Studs Terkel That was the sitar. And again they flew. Is that -- Is there -- I'm sure you're acquainted with Tagore?

Ravi Shankar Oh, yes.

Studs Terkel Music, too.

Ravi Shankar His -- We are really proud of him because we consider him as one of the greatest men born in our country not only as a poet, as a philosopher, as a playwright. I mean writer of all sort of the man of letters as well as a composer. He has, you know, he's at least done many thous-- over 6000 songs he has composed. Words as well as giving the tunes.

Studs Terkel Six thousand.

Ravi Shankar About. And you know that he's now fast becoming famous as a painter, also. He started painting after he was 60 and his paintings are supposed to be so abstract and so modern that it is now only it is getting notices everywhere and I believe exhibitions are being held all over the world now.

Studs Terkel Is there a Tagore -- Is

Ravi Shankar Yes. Actually there are a lot of songs that we know. For instance, our national anthem of India is a song composed by Tagore, which I don't know, I'll just play the first line [content removed, see

Studs Terkel And this is the anthem, then.

Ravi Shankar Yes, this is our Indian national anthem, which is a song by Tagore.

Studs Terkel As I was listening, and this has been a -- Well, more than a -- A highly moving, you speak of the emotional impact of the music of India, but Indian people, I see now, something you said earlier about all that is required is a sympathetic ear, and not my original concept that one has to be inured with a culture, just -- As I listen to the other, I think of dancing. During some of the pieces you were playing, is the dance part of it, too, or is this strictly instrumental.

Ravi Shankar Yes, it is strictly instrumental because we have music for the dances. You know, when we say music for the dances, I mean the traditional styles of dancing like the Bharatanatyam of the south, the Manipuri of the eastern, northeastern, and the Kathak of the north. These are the four main traditional styles of dancing, out of which Bharatanatyam is the really the most traditional. And for that, there are fixed music which go along with this separate dance but my brother Uday since last, I would say, about 40 years, has been working on this new form, this ballet-style which was not yet in India, and he was rather condemned in the beginning, you know, for being rather untraditional by a lot of so-called traditional people in India and even there are some people now who are criticizing him, but nevertheless his influence has been so great. It is the pioneer of all the ballet-style, you know, presenting in the new form. Actually this form is not Western at all. It is Indian, basically, but instead of following one particular tradition he has taken from all the separate styles and also taken from our very, very rich folk styles all over India folk dance, you know, dances from different regions and it's almost like a synthesis of all the style and he has really evolved a new style, which is known as the Uday Shankar

Studs Terkel His, your brother, Uday Shankar, India's greatest dancer, then, has taken so many old forms neglected, and

Ravi Shankar No, I wouldn't say neglected. No,

Studs Terkel No, not neglected.

Ravi Shankar No, but, you

Studs Terkel Put them together.

Ravi Shankar Yes.

Studs Terkel

Ravi Shankar

Studs Terkel [Live music in background] This music, as you may have guessed, is the music of India. This morning, seated on the floor of the studio, are three musicians, three artists from India, the leader, the world's finest player of the sitar, perhaps one of the world's finest virtuoso instrumentalists, Ravi Shankar, his accompanying colleague at the tabla, quite possibly the finest tabla player, the double drum player, Kanai Dutta, and the supporting artist on the tambura, which we hear, Mr. [M.C. Malek?]. Mr. Shankar, we're delighted this morning to have you as our guest, and we're honored, too. Namaste. This station -- What was the phrase you used? I said, "Namaste." This is the greeting from India. We say, "Namaste." It means, "Hello," "Good morning," "Goodbye," anything, any form of greeting. That's a perfect way for us to open the day, too and later on perhaps we know you will offer us demonstrations of the, of the raga, or the basic musical pattern of India that I know is adapted to every mood of the day, every mood of the season, and life, immediately as I look at you now seated across the microphone, how would you describe -- We think of the raga, I hear this phrase a lot, I know that we in the Western world are not too well acquainted with the nature, the meaning, of the music of India itself. We know that centuries old, we hear the word 'raga' used. Well, I'll try to explain in as few words I can. It's really hard to explain a raga, you know. You see, it is not a scale, neither it is modal like the Grecian modes. It is not a mode. The ragas are actually based on scales. We in India have like the major and minor here. We have got 72 full octave scales. 72, mind you. And on this 72, on the each of the scale of 72 scales, there are quite a number of ragas, which means we have got hundreds and thousands of ragas. Now, each of these ragas are associated with different phase of the morning, day, noon, afternoon, evening, night, etc. Not only that, each of these ragas have got their own sentiment, their own mood. You see, they -- Actually in the olden days they signified different pictures. There are old paintings from Rajput paintings, Mughal paintings, on the ragas, you see, of course, which means that each raga is to convey a particular mood and sentiment but the artist while performing, either singing or on the instrument, always had some liberties to give his own version, you know. And as I said, based on the scale, this raga again has its own ascending descending moment. I'll just give you a little example, for instance. Now, this is what we call shankara [unintelligible] or bilawal thaat, it has both the names, which is equivalent to the major scale, for instance. [Music]. This we understand. Well, this is one of our scales, and on this scale, we have got I would say hundreds of ragas. [Vendetonic?] ragas, [music] or even full scale ragas [music], but what I'm playing actually are the skeletons of the ragas, or rather known as the ascending and descending movement of the ragas. The moment we start playing raga, there are a lot of other things like using the slides. You know this slide. What is known as slide, and little quarter tones, which is usually we make usage not in a static way. For instance, we won't use a note like this [music], we won't use it like this, but we will use it, in a, it's almost like heighten the emotional [music] and you see. Just slide it, not use it directly, the quarter tones, that is. That's why we choose a raga. In India actually we play ragas of that particular time. For instance, we don't usually play the evening raga in the morning or vice versa, but after choosing the raga the other thing we have to bear in mind, that duration of the performance, for instance. Whether I'm going to perform for one and half hour or two hour one raga, or whether I'm going to perform it for three minutes. For instance, in the 78 discs or I perform for 15 minutes. You see, once we know that, we can start the performance, the recital, accordingly, you see. So the raga then, one raga may last for an hour or it may last for three minutes? Oh, it can last for three hours, four hours in the hand of a good musician who knows, who has learnt and really has an experience. And in India I never play a raga less than one and a half hour. At least. So the fact that there is this much variation of the raga, even the variations you just hinted at, indicated based on this one scale, elementary scale, is only one of a thousand variations of the manner in which it can be used and it always I sense is connected with the emotion, the feeling of the moment of the artist. Yes. No, you see, when you say the variation, variation comes afterwards. When we choose a raga, a raga has its own shape. As I told you, it has -- Each raga is like a different personality, different person. Some of them are very playful. Some of them are very erotic. Some of them are tranquil. Some of them are, you know, full of petals. So once we decide the raga we have to as much as possible keep the personality of the raga intact. But as I told you, the artist does have a bit of freedom to give his own, you know. And as I told you after deciding the duration of the recital, that duration of the raga, we do the improvising accordingly. When I know that I have to perform 15 minutes on one raga, you see, I do everything proportionately according to that 15 minutes and the usual procedure in our music is to start slow and get faster and faster and end in a climax. That's the usual. Are there three elements, are there three steps to the raga? There's the first, isn't that, which is called the invocation? Yes, what is known as alap, and that is the actually the solo playing. The solo sitar playing and that is how we start, the alap. It is a very slow soft sitting movement. Actually I would say it is very spiritual and very introverted, you see, it hasn't got all those extrovert, playing for the gallery, things. It is very, very spiritual and one has to understand our music really much more deeply to really understand the alap because it is completely emotional. And the second movement is the jhor, actually that's where the element of rhythm is added and the later movements are known as jhalla because there's a And throughout there is improvisation allowed for the artist. improvisation is all the time. It's this train system you see it is like being bound down in a system, it's very rigid, the raga. When we choose a raga and play the raga we cannot go out of the raga, but at the same time we have all the freedom in the world. Within that framework. Within that framework. Within Exactly. No wonder American jazz men go crazy when when they hear your sitar, or when they hear Mr. Dutta's tablas. And you see, when I said solo a little while ago, any form of music, either vocal or instrumental, even when we call it solo, you always hear something else in the background. It is known as the background drone instrument. It is -- The tambura of Mr. [Malek?]. This tambura is played by [Malek?]. This is the tambura. [Music]. Actually, the three strings are keeping the tonic all the time as you hear it, and the rest of the two are tuned according to the different ragas, either the third or the fourth or the fifth. And this is also known as the hypnotic drone because it continues all the time being played in the background, you see. And it builds an atmosphere which is very important to us, the musician as well as the listener, and also it keeps in the mind the constant pitch, which is one very important thing, that we never change the pitch in our music. We might change the ragas, you see, whereas in Western music it's very unusual and that is the reason why most of our Western listeners after some time feel that our music is a bit repetitious, which is -- Which is not true. But it is because we don't change the pitch, you see, we keep it keep the tonic all the time the same, we go on changing the ragas but the tambura is always behind maintaining the pitch. You see, we too of the West are so unaccustomed to that music which is string, accustomed as we are to harmony. Their harmony itself is not present in Indian music. No, it is not present in our music in the sense that it is known here but it is there in the various subtle way. For instance, the tuning of the tambura itself is in harmony. You know, as I told you, the hypnotic drone because it is tuned to the tonic and the octave and fifth. After some time you start getting the illusion of hearing the, you know, harmonics of that. I imagine for a Western listener to truly appreciate Indian music he himself must be seeped in the tradition of India, its centuries old, to really, I mean to fully in all the subtleties and all. Well, that can be said for anything which is foreign, one who has to really try to understand sympathetically, you see. All you're asking for is the open ear. Up 'til now our music has been understood or thought of as purely ethnic or exotic or rather like a museum piece. But I tell you our music is alive, full of life and it is not like in many countries music in the Orient country which, you know, which has a lot of folk tunes, a lot of Aboriginal music, but it hasn't got that music which is alive and which is traditional. Ours is very old, as you know. I mean, we have books which mentions our music which are 3000 years old, the books itself, but the music itself is much older because it came directly from our old texts, the Vedas, and like in the Western music, of course, the Gregorian music, the music was associated with the church. Same way, our music was very deeply associated with old spiritual religious life. All you're asking for, then, is a sympathetic ear. The artistry alone will take care of the rest. You speak of this music then, every aspect of Indian life, then, is touched by the music, every aspect. Every aspect, only as in the case of Western music classical music. You see, the approach has been more intellectual even the emotional aspect has been very, very much more associated with, I would say, our old -- You see, in olden days the musician has had to be a great yogi also. So yoga, music, religion, all our spiritual occult science, everything was, you know -- Connected. Interrelated. So the musician then has to be a a rounded man, a fully dimensional man in every way, more than just a It is through his experience of life he can bring out richer and richer. There's a raga, as you say, for every part of the day, for every mood. Obviously you would not be playing an evening raga now. Is there a demonstration, for example, of a music, of a raga, that would fit your mood now while you're seated here in Chicago this time of the day? Well, yes, there's a, as I told you, a raga for every time. For instance, Alhaiya Bilaval, is a raga which is in major scale. I'll just play a little It's haunting, it's beautiful, and as you as you play this, Mr. Shankar, with your accompanying artist who came in, and we'll ask of Mr. Dutta in a moment and the tablas. I think of what your admirer, Mr. Yehudi Menuhin said, he said listening to you has offered him some of the most inspiring moments of his life as a listener to music. It's interesting that many of the Western classical artists so admire your approach and your colleagues. I have found a lot. As you -- Perhaps we should describe the sitar and then discuss perhaps some of the artistry of Mr. Dutta and the tablas. The sitar itself, I've lost count of the strings on up there. Well, I'll show you, you see, it's a big thing, it's nearly four feet in height. Five. Four. Four feet. Four feet. Four And in the [base?] piece you see below it is a gourd. Upper part is made of teak wood. It's completely hollow and there's a small piece of [gourd? gold?] on the top which is also serving as the resonating chamber. There are four strings mainly for playing in two-four rhythm, making it six [music] and below there are 13 sympathetic strings which resonate [music] which is really interesting thing in this instrument, you'll see that it can be played vertically [music] as well as horizontically [music] which gives the effect of vocal music. The human voice. So I didn't realize that your fingers move both ways that you can use the strings horizontally as well as vertically. And I pluck the plectrum which I wear in my right hand forefinger. So the sympathetic strings there are the actual strings above. And then there are two ways to direct -- All together, 19. 19. Nineteen all together and there's so many different ways and angles, they say, in playing this. Now about the drums. I'm sure they would like to know. You see, actually this is known as tabla. Tabla. But tabla in reality it is the right hand drum and the left hand drum is known as the baya and both together naturally is known as tabla. Now the tabla is tuned with a hammer. It's actually [music], it's tuned to the tonic mostly. Sometimes you find the tabla tuned in the dominant or the subdominant also. Now, actually like the raga, there's a word called tala. Tala means the rhythmic cycle. Like we have a lot of ragas, there are lots of talas also, of course, much in lesser number, though. There are about 360 different talas mentioned in our old texts but actually in common use we have the rhythmic cycles of the three, four, five, six, seven, eight, the 10, the 12, the 14 and the 16. These are more common in use, these cycles of this number. And of course the unusual ones are the talas of, say, nine, 11, 13, 15, 17, etc. which we play very rarely, and often there are only groups of musicians listening, then we play all this odd number of talas which is very complex actually. But same way, either when the drummer plays a solo or he accompanies a sitar player, for instance, it is the sitar player who chooses what he is going to play, whether he's going to play piece, a slow piece or medium or fast and in what rhythmic cycle or what tala. For instance, he chooses teental, which is a rhythmic cycle of 16. Then the moment he starts, it is by experience, actually, for a number of years, the tabla player immediately finds out what tala it is, and he starts accompanying him. And while accompanying, the main thing is that one has to know where is the starting point, which is the one, or the sum. To us, that is very important, you see. Unless we keep track of that starting point one, or the sum, you really cannot enjoy the music, because we always improvise and come back on that one and that is something which our listeners, most of them, that is, not all, they know it and that's what they enjoy. The starting point, there's an old phrase, if you know where to start, you know where you will end. Yes, exactly. It's known as the sum. The sum. Sum, yes. Now, for instance before we ask Mr. Dutta to give a little solo performance, I would like you to know another thing. You see, while he will be playing, he will be saying also certain things which will play immediately, which means there's a language of the drums which is not something like you have heard [Vedanic?] is saying, I suppose, because it is really an old thing we have in India, it is traditional way of saying these things and anything that can be played can be spoken. For instance, we'll start with the alphabets at the right-hand drum, the tabla: [Indian] [music]; now the left-hand drum, the baya: [Indian] [music]; now, both hands together: [Indian] [music]. Now small phrases: [Indian] [music]; now [Indian] [music]. You see, by pressure of the wrist and the left hand, he gets, almost one can get one and half octave. Then there are more complicated what we call bols, like: [Indian] [music]. You see, things like that. So now, I'll ask Kanai Dutta to play little pieces from different taal to help you understand the cycles. Now, we'll start with the taal or the written cycles known as rupak, which is a cycle of seven beats. Divisions are three, two, two, like that. One, two, three, one, two, three, four, one. I'll be keeping the beat with my hand, you see, to help you understand. [Music]. This was a rhythmic cycle known as rupak. Now listen to a rhythmic cycle known as jhaptaal, which is a cycle of ten, ten beats. The divisions are two, three, two, three. So what we do, we keep the beats like this: one, two, one, two, three, one, two, one, two, three, one, two, three, four, five, six, in six we don't clap, you see, we do the hand inside like this: six, seven, eight, nine, ten, one, two, three, four, five [Indian] [music]. Now we'll hear a little piece in teentaal, that is a There's an American phrase to describe all this, Mr. Ravi Shankar and Mr. Dutta: Wow. No, we say "[Vaa?]!" You know, you might have heard me saying we in India when the music goes on, actually we don't wait 'til the end to applause. We wait for -- Don't wait 'til the end, I say. Even the audience, when there's something very exciting and interesting, they shout, "[Ah ha ha! Vaahaava?]!" As it's going on, and this, of course, helps build the enthusiasm of the artists, too. Between ask the musicians. And here I wish, this is a matter, not only is this audio exciting to watch, but visually, too. Exactly. As Mr. Dutta was watching you and you were watching him. And there is one more thing, you see. We have entered the sign when we are at times silent. But we sort of shake our head from side to side like this. You know, it has been misunderstood many times by our listeners as if we are disapproving when we do like this. The opposite. Yes, but actually means appreciation, is saying, it's like saying "[Va va?]! Very nice, wonderful." Like Also emotionally move, too, I suppose, this is emotional movement, too, as well. When it is very deep, then you don't sort of speak out, you just say like this. I'm sure this is the way the audience reacts when they hear Mr. Dutta and you and Mr. [Malek?] play. The language of the tabla, the language is manifold. There are so many, you say it could be the human voice, it's the talking. I don't use the phrase 'talking drums,' we associate this with Africa, It's not actually talking, but what I mean to say, each sound can be pronounced and that's how we write down also. The pieces of drums can be written down the same way it is spoken, like a notation. And talking of notation, I am sure you -- I was just about to ask you about the role you've played in the notation of Indian music. Isn't it true that's been oral to a great extent for centuries and Yes, our music, you see, has been, is basically oral and not visual. That's very -- The main difference from the Western music and our music and it has been handed down from one person to the other through generations, you know, like that. Of course, we have our notation system which is like the 'sol fa' system; you know, each of our notes are like 'do re mi fa sol la ti do,' we call them 'sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa.' And calling them by names we have short initials for each notes either in Hindi or Roman letter. For instance, we might write 's' for sa, 'r' for re, 'g' for ga, etc. And that's how we write our notation and the time measure is set of there are signs below the initials and this notation system is good enough for us really, because we only use it for keeping records, mostly, of old songs, fixed pieces, you know, like in our music and also the new forms like the film scores or the ballet music or different sort of orchestral pieces that has to be written down because it's not improvised music, it's fixed music, so those are the things we usually write down and it is read by the musicians the same way as it is done here and they can play. Of course, it needs for a little detail things like the usage of quarter tone and those little, you know, things we have to tell them. Thinking about your contributions not only as a notator of Indian music, earlier you mentioned the musician of India must be a man of many parts, a man of many interests and many talents. We think of you, Mr. Ravi Shankar, not only the finest sitar player of India and leading composer, but you founded the India all-state radio. You have written for film, for ballet, you've been a dancer, too, with your brother -- Yes, For a while, Uday Shankar. A dancer as well. Perhaps the movie filmed first, a number of Chicagoans I know have seen the marvelous trilogy, or at least one of them, of Satyajit Ray. Yes, The film director, "Pather Panchali," "Aparajito" and there's a third film, "World of -- "The World of Apu." And what many of us remember, is the soundtrack you were the composer but you were the only instrumentalist, and there's one scene that I think everyone who has seen this film can never forget: In "Pather Panchali," I notice Mr. Dutta is smiling, he rememberd, we talked about this earlier, in "Pather Panchali," as the girl dies, the mother screams. We do not hear her voice but we hear your sitar. No, it was not Whatever it was, that instrument It was a bowed instrument. But that was yours. Yes. No. I'll tell you. It was very interesting working for "Pather Panchali" because you see, when Satyajit Ray asked me to do the music score, he actually wanted me to take three, four days at least, you know, for recording and sing it. And I thought that I would like to see the whole film once, and we saw it complete film once, and after that the studio, sound studio was taken for three, four days at least in continuation, mostly three, four nights because we like to work in the night there. It's quieter and cooler and much better. So after I had seen the whole film once, I was so moved and it really got me so deep in my mind and I immediately sort of had this theme music in my mind which you remember, perhaps. Please. [Music]. This I -- It came to me spontaneously while I was seeing the picture for the first time. And then in the nighttime from 10 o'clock we started the work. I had only three musicians with me. One flautist for the wind instrument and one bowed instrument player and one drummer. That is all. Just three, and myself four. So having seen it in the afternoon as I told you, I had everything completely in my mind and I utilized the theme music as much as possible again and again, on different instruments, on solo instruments as well as together, and then the main little pieces where there dramatic moments. They were just done on the spot. You know, seeing the film once and I told them there was no need to write them down, also. And would you believe me that I think it's all-time record that we finished the whole music, the music for the whole film, that is, in four hours and 15 minutes. That's fantastic! Four hours and 15 You had it all in your mind. Then it was all in your mind. And the music of "Pather Panchali" was done in that short time, four hours and So that one moment, that was a bowed instrument, then. Yes. When the mother screamed. Exactly. But it had a vocal, a feeling as to what you're able to do, as though you heard -- Let the shriek, shriek. Her voice even more -- Yes. Even more than if she actually did it -- Exactly. Because it was beyond reality. Because, you see, it was the emotion of her having been very hard and kept her sorrow and not, you know, breaking out. But when the father gives her the sari, or the cloth that he has brought from the city for the girl, she breaks out absolutely emotionally. There's another moment in that second film, I'm sure a number of the listeners will remember, this "Aparajito," the second film, when the father dies. Yes, those pigeons. The pigeons flew! What was the instrument then? That was sitar. That was the sitar. And again they flew. Is that -- Is there -- I'm sure you're acquainted with Tagore? Oh, yes. Music, too. His -- We are really proud of him because we consider him as one of the greatest men born in our country not only as a poet, as a philosopher, as a playwright. I mean writer of all sort of the man of letters as well as a composer. He has, you know, he's at least done many thous-- over 6000 songs he has composed. Words as well as giving the tunes. Six thousand. About. And you know that he's now fast becoming famous as a painter, also. He started painting after he was 60 and his paintings are supposed to be so abstract and so modern that it is now only it is getting notices everywhere and I believe exhibitions are being held all over the world now. Is there a Tagore -- Is Yes. Actually there are a lot of songs that we know. For instance, our national anthem of India is a song composed by Tagore, which I don't know, I'll just play the first line [content removed, see catalog And this is the anthem, then. Yes, this is our Indian national anthem, which is a song by Tagore. As I was listening, and this has been a -- Well, more than a -- A highly moving, you speak of the emotional impact of the music of India, but Indian people, I see now, something you said earlier about all that is required is a sympathetic ear, and not my original concept that one has to be inured with a culture, just -- As I listen to the other, I think of dancing. During some of the pieces you were playing, is the dance part of it, too, or is this strictly instrumental. Yes, it is strictly instrumental because we have music for the dances. You know, when we say music for the dances, I mean the traditional styles of dancing like the Bharatanatyam of the south, the Manipuri of the eastern, northeastern, and the Kathak of the north. These are the four main traditional styles of dancing, out of which Bharatanatyam is the really the most traditional. And for that, there are fixed music which go along with this separate dance but my brother Uday since last, I would say, about 40 years, has been working on this new form, this ballet-style which was not yet in India, and he was rather condemned in the beginning, you know, for being rather untraditional by a lot of so-called traditional people in India and even there are some people now who are criticizing him, but nevertheless his influence has been so great. It is the pioneer of all the ballet-style, you know, presenting in the new form. Actually this form is not Western at all. It is Indian, basically, but instead of following one particular tradition he has taken from all the separate styles and also taken from our very, very rich folk styles all over India folk dance, you know, dances from different regions and it's almost like a synthesis of all the style and he has really evolved a new style, which is known as the Uday Shankar style. His, your brother, Uday Shankar, India's greatest dancer, then, has taken so many old forms neglected, and -- No, I wouldn't say neglected. No, not neglected. No, but, you know Put them together. Yes. Synthesized Put Them.

Ravi Shankar Yes, and brought out a new which is so sort of easy for showing stories, you know, anything which is, which can be very modern also. He has done lots of ballets, really, and it is understood by everyone because actually the original tradition styles have their stylized manners. You have to know a little to understand them completely. They have their mudras, which is the gesture language. They have their own powers, their expressions, and you have to know a little to understand even the pantomimes that you see. You have to know a little of those styles to appreciate fully. But my brother's style is something which the common man can

Studs Terkel You just said something that interests me very much. Your brother, then is understood by everyone in India, not the sophisticates only, not the highly literate only. Everyone understands this great artist, as, say, everyone understands Chaplin, let us say.

Ravi Shankar Exactly.

Studs Terkel In that way. Now, about to ask you, the music you are playing, the sitar, the tabla and the [unintelligible]. Is this too popular, in the sense that everyone understands, or is this?

Ravi Shankar Well, I'll tell you that it is very popular really, especially since we have achieved our independence. In the beginning, very old days, the music was also very popular, because classical music was attached with the temple. And in our old temples, they were the center of all the creative art: the sculpture, the painting, the music, the dance. It was through the temple. They had their own [stage? state?], their own huge backyard where the people used to come and hear and see the dance and hear the music and later, especially in the north, you see, music was brought in the palaces. It was shut-in, rather, for the aristocrats and the maharajahs and the kings, the rulers, that is. And little by little in the north, mainly, as I said the common people lost the contact with our traditional music. I would say the same thing was done in Europe, remember the days of Mozart and Wagner, it was the archdukes and councillors

Studs Terkel -- The patrons, who were the nobility.

Ravi Shankar So it was very much in the same way, I would say, and it is only since last 50 years or so that some of our pioneer, you know, people in India, in north India, especially again, who tried to arrange, as we call in India, music conferences, which is like music festivals, and get all the musicians together to perform almost like a jam session, you know. One after another. But of course, the duration of each artist is much more because there you see we are actually supposed to play each raga for at least one and half hour, not less than that. So if one plays, one set of, performs two ragas, which means easily three hours. So especially after the independence, our music has become very popular through the radio as well as through a number of music conferences all over like cities like Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Lucknow.

Studs Terkel Since independence, then, there has been this flowering, this resurgence of interest on the part of everyone.

Ravi Shankar Absolutely, and it is very easy, it's common thing to see a huge big what we call pandal, it's like a big tent, you see, in open air. They build it and you see 5000, 8000, 10000 people sitting all night 'til the early morning 'til about seven o'clock and again repeating the next day, it goes on for seven, eight days and such festivals you have at least 20, 30 of them in each big cities every

Studs Terkel year, And

Ravi Shankar Oh, it has done a great, All India Radio, especially All India Radio has done a great service.

Studs Terkel This is a role that you personally have played, Mr. Shankar.

Ravi Shankar Yes, I was in All India Radio for many years.

Studs Terkel Thus far, we've understood, you've taught us something of the sitar and Mr. Dutta something of the tabla. We think of the drone instrument of Mr. [Malek?], the tambura. Mr. [Malek?] is also a maker of instruments, too.

Ravi Shankar Yes, he makes the sitar. He is a wonderful, I would say craftsman, and he's not, in the sense, he hasn't a shop or he's not a professional person, but he has done a lot of research and I cannot think being without him because his all the time takes care of my sitar, which is like a Stradivarius to me.

Studs Terkel It's like a Stradivarius to you, you say. Is the sitar also old, the ones you have, I mean, in the -- As the violins are?

Ravi Shankar The one I have is 17 years old.

Studs Terkel Oh, 17.

Ravi Shankar But actually the form of the instrument is pretty old, about seven, 700 years.

Studs Terkel Wasn't there an antecedent to the sitar? The veena. What was the veena?

Ravi Shankar Veena is the ancient instrument. Actually, the veena, the original form is very much, I would say it's not played anymore. Very few people play it. There's another form of veena which is very popular in south India. It is a bit different from -- It hasn't [gourd? gold?], it has got a wooden piece attached to it, and that is quite popular in the south and sitar is actually a modified version of the old veena, but it is mostly popular in the north in India.

Studs Terkel Now, I realize this is ridiculous. I look at a Western clock and I see that an hour has gone by so quickly. And I think of what you've taught us within this hour, perhaps over and above everything, aside from some hearing of the instruments involved. The important thing, the need for the sympathetic ear to understand the people who have so much to offer, a centuries-old tradition and highly emotional and highly moving. At the beginning, you said, it was a phrase you said as a greeting. What was that phrase again?

Ravi Shankar Namaste.

Studs Terkel Namaste.

Ravi Shankar Namaste.

Studs Terkel Namaste. Now, how do we say farewell, until we meet again?

Ravi Shankar Well, we say,

Studs Terkel Namaste again?

Ravi Shankar Yes, we just have those -- We join our hands like this, and say "Namaste."

Studs Terkel So I say to you, sir, and to your two colleagues, "Namaste," and perhaps some music that fits the hour of eleven o'clock in Chicago on this day, a raga.

Ravi Shankar All right.

Studs Terkel Thank you very much.

Ravi Shankar Namaste. [Music].

Studs Terkel Marvelous, Mr. Dutta is shaking his head and at first thought it was wrong, then I see it's great.

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Studs Terkel Again, we say, "Wow!" And thank you very much, Mr. Ravi Shankar, Mr. Kanai Dutta and Mr. M.C. [Malek?] for offering us insight.