Thursday, September 28, 2006

103. Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra and Hariprasad Chaurasia - Call Of The Valley (1967)

Track Listing

1. Ahir Bhairav/Nat Bhairav
2. Rag Piloo
3. Bhoop
4. Rag Des
5. Rag Pahadi


So we are in 1967, for the last couple of years there has been a marked obsession for all things indian in pop albums. This starts with the Beatles but the Byrds and even the more conservative Kinks got on the bandwagon. It is therefore only natural that attentions turned to the origins of these obsessions. Call of the Valley is really a different album from most of those which have been reviewed here.

I have always been a big fan of Indian classical music, from Ravi Shankar's collaborations with Phillip Glass and Yehudi Menuhin to traditional Qawwali. In fact I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on Indian Sufi Music, mainly Qawwali. So I have developed a taste for this. But even if you haven't this is a great album to start. It is quite accessible and beautifully performed.

There will be other albums of this type of music coming up here and unlike some of the choices on Brazilian music which I find quite innapropriate, the Indian selection is actually quite good.

This album has an amazing energy tempered by a quite plaintive sound, while the rythmic tabla drums give it a sweltering energy, the santoor and flute bring it back down to a dream-like quality. It is not hard to imagine the same hippies getting high on Jefferson Airplane and then switching to this. It really has that kind of universal quality to it, it is very easy to relate to it although it is performed in a quite alien form. But no more alien than what people were experimenting with in the West in the 60's. Stream it from Napster or buy it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

It is quite pointless to highlight 4 out of 5 tracks... and it is consistently good, so just listen to it.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The santoor is a trapezoid-shaped hammered dulcimer often made of walnut, with seventy strings. The special-shaped mallets (mezrab) are lightweight and are held between the index and middle fingers. A typical santoor has two sets of bridges, providing a range of three octaves.

The santoor is a hammered dulcimer, derived from the Persian santur (which is believed to be the first instrument of its type), and related to similar instruments in Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and other parts of Central Asia.

The Indian santoor is more rectangular and can have more strings than the original Persian counterpart, which generally has 72 strings. The santoor as used in Indian classical musician is played with a pair of curved mallets made of walnut wood and the resultant melodies are similar to the music of the harp, harpsichord or piano. The sound chamber is also made of walnut wood and the bridges are made of local wood and painted dark like ebony. The strings are made of steel from Germany and England.

Notable santoor players of the twentieth century include and Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Pandit Bhajan Sopori, and Kiranpal Singh.

The younger generation of santoor players include Rahul Sharma and Abhay Rustum Sopori, Saurav Chatterjee, and many other prominent names like Kakan Ghosal, Versha Aggarwal, Roshan Ali, and Sandip Chatterjee.

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