Friday, December 14, 2012

R.I.P., Ravi Shankar

The master sitarist and dear friend of George passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92. Below is some of the coverage of his death.
- NYT: "Ravi Shankar, Sitarist Who Introduced Indian Music to the West, Dies at 92"
Excerpt: Ravi Shankar, the sitar virtuoso and composer who died on Tuesday at 92, created a passion among Western audiences for the rhythmically vital, melodically flowing ragas of classical Indian music — a fascination that had expanded by the mid-1970s into a flourishing market for world music of all kinds.
In particular, his work with two young semi-apprentices in the 1960s — George Harrison of the Beatles and the composer Philip Glass, a founder of Minimalism — was profoundly influential on both popular and classical music.
- WSJ: "When Ravi Shankar Met George Harrison"
Excerpt: But when Mr. Harrison first approached Mr. Shankar for lessons in the mid-1960s, the idea of blending Indian classical music with pop music was puzzling to the sitar maestro.
“It is strange to see pop musicians with sitars. I was confused at first. It had so little to do with our classical music. When George Harrison came to me, I didn’t know what to think,” said Mr. Shankar in Raga.
“But I found he really wanted to learn. I never thought our meeting would cause such an explosion, that Indian music would suddenly appear on the pop scene,” he added.
- The Guardian: "Ravi Shankar: the Beatles' muse who turned his back on rock"
Excerpt: Harrison learned about Shankar from the Byrds and, after adding sitar lines to Norwegian Wood, the Beatle sought him out and later went to India for lessons. Shankar was now treated like a rock star, playing at the Monterey pop festival in 1967, then Woodstock and the Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden, and enjoying co-billing on Harrison's Dark Horse tour in 1974. It was then he decided that his career had gone horribly wrong. Western rock audiences decided India meant drugs and free love, and Shankar was shocked at the way his music was misunderstood.
"The association with India was so wrong," he once told me. "The superficiality of everyone becoming 'spiritual', the cliches of yoga … the Kama Sutra, LSD and hash … It was all against our music and our approach to music because we consider it so sacred." As for Harrison, Shankar said "he himself was very sorry and sad to see the way it was twisted and taken so casually. He never dreamed it would turn out like this."
- The Telegraph: "How Ravi Shankar was charmed by George Harrison"
Finally, here's George and Ravi together in an interview:
(If the video is removed, go here.)

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