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Pandit Ravi Shankar

A Legacy of Musical Excellence

By Allwyn Roman WaghelaPublished 28 days ago 3 min read
Twenty-three years older than Harrison, Shankar described their relationship as, variously, that of father and son (with each one adopting either role); close friends and brothers; and teacher and student.

Pandit Ravi Shankar, born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury on April 7, 1920, was an iconic Indian sitarist and composer. His influence extended far beyond his own performances, leaving an indelible mark on the world of music. Here are some highlights from his remarkable legacy:

Sitar Virtuoso:

Ravi Shankar was a master of the sitar, a traditional Indian stringed instrument. His virtuosity and innovative approach made him a global ambassador for Indian classical music.

Global Impact:

  • In the second half of the 20th century, Shankar became the best-known expert in North Indian classical music worldwide.
  • He influenced countless musicians in India and beyond, bridging cultural gaps through his music.
  • Collaborations:

  • Shankar collaborated with renowned artists like violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Beatles guitarist George Harrison.
  • His association with George Harrison helped popularize Indian instruments in Western pop music during the 1960s.

Film Scores and Awards:

  • He composed music for Satyajit Ray’s acclaimed Apu Trilogy.
  • Shankar’s work on the blockbuster film Gandhi (1982) earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.

Honors and Accolades:

  • India honored him with the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, in 1999.
  • He received prestigious accolades such as the Polar Music Prize and four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for The Concert for Bangladesh (1973).
  • Teaching and Legacy:

Shankar imparted his knowledge to musicians like John McLaughlin, who founded the Mahavishnu Orchestra and played a pivotal role in creating the fusion band Shakti.

Enduring Influence:

Even after his passing in 2012, Ravi Shankar’s legacy continues to inspire generations of musicians and music lovers worldwide.

His collaboration with George Harrison

Pandit Ravi Shankar and George Harrison shared a remarkable musical collaboration. Here are the key points:

Chants of India” Album (1997):

  • In 1997, George Harrison of The Beatles reunited with Pandit Ravi Shankar to create the album Chants of India.
  • The album featured traditional Indian chants and compositions, blending Shankar’s sitar expertise with Harrison’s Western sensibilities.
  • Their collaboration resulted in a beautiful fusion of Eastern and Western musical elements.

The Concert for Bangladesh (1971):

  • Harrison and Shankar’s friendship led to the historic Concert for Bangladesh in 1971.
  • Shankar approached Harrison, seeking help to alleviate suffering caused by the Bhola Cyclone and the Bangladesh Liberation War.
  • Harrison responded by organizing the first-ever charity single by a major artist: “Bangla Desh.”
  • The concert featured artists like Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Billy Preston, raising awareness and funds for Bengalis affected by the crises.

Legacy:

Their collaboration left an enduring impact on music, bridging cultural boundaries and showcasing the power of artistic unity.

What other musicians did Pandit Ravi Shankar collaborate with?

Pandit Ravi Shankar collaborated with several notable musicians, both in India and internationally. Here are some of his significant collaborations:

Yehudi Menuhin:

  • Shankar’s association with the renowned violinist Yehudi Menuhin led to cross-cultural performances and recordings.
  • They blended Indian classical music with Western classical traditions, creating a unique fusion.

Philip Glass:

  • Shankar collaborated with American composer Philip Glass on various projects, combining their distinct styles.
  • Their compositions showcased the fusion of Indian and minimalist music.

Jean-Pierre Rampal:

The legendary flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal collaborated with Shankar, exploring the intersection of Indian ragas and Western flute melodies.

John Coltrane:

  • Although they never recorded together, Shankar’s influence on jazz saxophonist John Coltrane is well-documented.
  • Coltrane was inspired by Shankar’s approach to improvisation and modal music.

These collaborations enriched the world of music and exemplified cultural exchange!

What was his approach to fusion music?

Ravi Shankar was a trailblazer in blending Indian classical music with other genres. His approach to fusion music was characterized by:

Respect for Tradition:

  • Shankar deeply understood and respected Indian classical music traditions.
  • He maintained the integrity of ragas, scales, and rhythmic patterns even when fusing them with other styles.

Collaboration with Western Musicians:

  • Shankar collaborated with Western artists like George Harrison, Yehudi Menuhin, and Philip Glass.
  • These partnerships led to groundbreaking albums that merged Indian and Western musical elements.
  • Innovative Instrumentation:

  • He experimented with different instruments beyond the sitar, incorporating tabla, flute, violin, and more.
  • Shankar’s compositions featured unique combinations, creating a rich sonic tapestry.

Improvisation and Adaptation:

  • Fusion allowed him to improvise freely, adapting to the context and fellow musicians.
  • He seamlessly blended intricate Indian melodies with Western harmonies.
  • Global Influence:

  • Shankar’s fusion work transcended borders, influencing world music and jazz.
  • His legacy continues to inspire artists seeking cross-cultural musical expressions.

In summary, Ravi Shankar’s fusion approach was a harmonious blend of tradition, collaboration, and innovation. 🌟

90s musicliteratureinstrumentshumanityhistoryfestivalsconcertclassicalart80s music70s music60s music

About the Creator

Allwyn Roman Waghela

I am a professional blogger, writing about topics such as travel, food, and lifestyle thus, showcasing my creativity and communication skills.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (1)

  • Mark Graham28 days ago

    Very interesting article/review. The sitar is an interesting instrument that produces an interesting sound.

Allwyn Roman WaghelaWritten by Allwyn Roman Waghela

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