When one thinks of Indian music, the sitar instantly comes to the forefront of our minds. For westerners, the sitar embodies Indian music. Perhaps most aren’t even aware that there are more instruments on the subcontinent.
And, like the sitar has come to represent Indian music to the west, Ravi Shankar has ultimately become the poster boy for the sitar itself. His music has ushered in a sort of Indian Invasion in Britain, America and beyond during the 1960s and 70s, with help from such loyal friends as George Harrison, guitarist from The Beatles. He has come to the forefront of our western reception even more so in recent years with the arrival of his all-too popular musician daughter, Norah Jones.
Throughout my study of the Indian subcontinent and its cultures, I have found something missing in Ravi Shankar’s music. It, more than likely, is a hint of western flare that I’ve quite obviously come to crave as an American-based fan of music.
I found redemption in Ananda Shankar. A sitar player by trade, Shankar is the nephew of world-renowned Ravi Shankar. It is my well-informed opinion that if you have a hard time with sitar music as it is, in terms of difficulty relating, Ananda Shankar’s tunes are perfect for you. While Ravi’s musical career has largely been aimed at preserving Hindustani traditions in music with albums such as “Sounds of India”, which is great by the way, Ananda speaks directly to his expanding western musical audience in his eponymous album.
Playing classic rock ‘n’ roll tunes such as the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” & The Doors’ “Light My Fire”, Shankar gently introduces western ears to traditional Hindustani music instead of shocking their system right off the bat. He even has another album in which he marries two of my personal favorite instruments, the sitar and the moog!
For a pleasant experience in sitar and traditional Indian music that will ease your western ears into this magnificent world, check out Ananda Shankar.