Hey, the Indian sitar is a great instrument and all, but it's really refreshing to hear Indian music played on Hawaiian slide guitar, and in that department, you can't do better than Debashish Bhattacharya. Here's an hour and fifteen minutes of his sublime sound for your listening pleasure: Calcutta Slide Guitar vol.3.
It's the middle of August, and chances are pretty good that it's HOT where you are. Let's lend our ears, then, to some of the most cooling music around, from the Indian bansuri. Air conditioning for your soul. [more inside]
With a pickup mounted on the body of the instrument just below the strings, Revathy Krishna, KP Sarada and Sivanandam and Jayanthi Kumaresh get an unexpectedly fat sound out of their veena. Rocking! The instrument is more often amplified with a microphone, in which case it sounds more like this performance by D. Balakrishna, who, as you'll hear, ain't no slouch, neither. And here Pichumani gets his groove on, no doubt about it. So, hey, two more raags for the road, courtesy of Rajeswari Padmanabhan. The second tune on her clip, by the way, has got some deep blues in it, so I'm thinking maybe Rajeswari might've been down to the crossroads at midnight... [NOTE: see hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
Queens of Carnatic singing: Nithyasree Mahadevan: 1, 2 and 3. Sudha Ragunathan: 1, 2, 3 and 4. And the legend of the legends, M.S. Subbulakshmi, in her film appearances from decades past: 1, 2 and 3, and as an elder stateswoman of Carnatic vocal artistry: 1, 2, 3 and 4.
While you compose that incisive comment, or scour the blogs for an interesting post, or photoshop your latest masterpiece, or whatever you do on your computer, perhaps you'd like to do it to the mellifluous strains of some enchanting Indian vocal music. Learn more here. Listen to more Indian music of almost every type (including historic film music from decades past) here. [previously]
If you're interested in musical instruments from all over the world, Wesleyan University's Virtual Instrument Museum should not be missed. Instruments are searchable by type (idiophones, aerophones, etc.), by materials (wood, bamboo, etc.), or by geographic region. The photos are very good, and many instruments are represented by excellent MP3 audio clips. And the exhibits (QTVR movies: drag your mouse to see the instrument from all angles) are wonderful.
So the issue of India's rise in the IT world ("penetrating America's economic core," worries Business Week) has been discussed (here and here), but what about their influence in pop culture? It's hard to escape Panjabi MC in the UK. Jay-Z and Missy Elliott sampled S.Asian music, and now Britney Spears has a bhangra-flavored remix (even if her love of "Indian spiritual religions" doesn't mean she's heard of Hinduism). And there's more -- a Baywatch actress is the first foreigner to star in a Bollywood flick. From Pop Idol to American Idol, now there's Bollywood Star. "Bend it Like Beckham" director Gurinder Chadha is doing a Bollywood version of "Pride and Prejudice." Is this just the exotic flavor of the month, or a cultural shift in line with the economic changes ahead? (and, just for fun -- a dig at the whole S.Asian music collaboration thing, from a site that appears to be The Onion for British Asians)