Guita… I Mean… Sitar Jams

A recent stop at The Frugal Muse brought this album into my hands.

“Ravi Shankar – Three Ragas”

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Makes a great Sleeveface too.

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At any rate, I must say that the only reason I bought it was because of the low low $2.98 price. If it had been any more than that I would have passed on it. I can’t say that I have heard much Indian music, The Beatles for the most part giving me a taste. A George Harrison song that Al (Jeff) included on a tape at some point in our history, “Microbes” was another.

I have dabbled in some Punjabi music, like Bally Sagoo, Tigerstyle and Punjabi MC… but this was the real deal from the 50’s. While I looked up the date I found that it is listed in the 1000 Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die.

I was going to be doing some druggery in the living room, so I decided to give it a spin. I figured my whimsical purchase would be a mistake and I would regret even the paltry sum I paid. However, to my great surprise… I dug it.

A lot.

Side One is one long song entitled “Raga Jog”, with Side Two having the songs “Raga Ahir Bhairav” and “Raga Simhendra Madhyamam”. I played both sides and started to write this. It is really quite a piece of work. Not like, play it at your next party, but one to have on hand for that perfect moment, when gently lilting sitar and tabla and tamboura (the only instruments on the album) are just what you need. The sound is not random, but the complexity is such that you really have no idea where it is taking you. Correlations to Jazz come to mind, or it being the soundtrack to the plastic bag film from “American Beauty” movie and I mean that in a good way, not ironically.

There are some great liner notes (I know, right?!… man, I love it.) written by Ravi himself about the structure of the traditional forms of Indian music. It is very interesting and structured around parts that are open to improvisation. The numbers are important.

This is truly fascinating stuff and I am so glad I got it. What was a total fluke has led me to another form of music to appreciate.


Jam on Ravi.


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