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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Sounds Of India

Ravi Shankar

1957

The Sounds Of India
Album Summary

The Sounds of India is an album by Ravi Shankar which introduces and explains Hindustani classical music to Western audiences. Released by Columbia Records in 1957, it was influenced by Ali Akbar Khan's The Sounds of India, and recorded and produced by George Avakian in 1957 at Columbia's New York studio.It is regarded today as being of historical interest for showing both Shankar's musical skills and his interest in teaching the West about classical Indian music.It was digitally remastered and released in CD format by Columbia Records in 1989.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.87

Votes

10048
Genres
World

Reviews

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Wed Oct 06 2021
5

I took a lot of drugs before listening to this. I was whisked off to a magical land, where a talking frog convinced a boy to kill his father. Then a grumpy emo chick started pestering me, trying to get me to choose between fuckin' a zebra or fuckin' a corpse. I chose zebra. Then an abused orphan watched me peel a verucca sock off a disabled ghost. Then a noseless man raped a singing omelette. What's it all about?

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Fri Aug 20 2021
4

One of life's great mysteries has been solved! I couldn't for the life of me understand why a sitar has at least twice as many tuning pegs as it has strings. Now I know! There are strings that run under the strings that are picked and each of these other strings is attached to a particular fret and needs a separate tuning peg. I learned this by clicking on the word sitar on the wiki page for this album. I didn't get it from Ravi's instructional comments before each song. All I can say for Ravi's comments is "sounds good to me". I suppose George Harrison would have understood what Ravi meant but I doubt anyone other than a music scholar could make heads or tails of it. George Harrison is responsible for the western world hearing a sitar for the first time, but Ravi's playing speaks for itself. His sitar playing is exotic and magical. It's no wonder all the hippy rock stars travelled to India to find this music. The influence on 60s music deserves +1. I'm equally interested in the drums, called tabla, played on this album. My disdain for drum solos by no means extends to the tabla. If you never have, dig up some solo tabla music. It's extraordinary. Tabla are also tuned but they have no strings. Another one of life's great mysteries but this one remains unsolved.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
2

While the Sitar is an interesting instrument, this album sounds more like a 50 minute solo on the Sitar which is just not that enjoyable as an album

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Wed May 05 2021
1

This album comes with a instructions and I still don't get it.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Legend. He actually teaches you about the music before he shreds face.

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Fri Dec 17 2021
2

More of an historic curiosity than a listenable album.

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Tue Apr 20 2021
2

This is so not my genre. I can tell that Ravi is hella talented but the constant, repetitive, droning of the sitar absolutely gives me anxiety. There are some really interesting bit in here where Ravi gives short lessons on how Indian music is built and what to listen for which is the only thing saving this from a one-star review.

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Wed Oct 06 2021
4

this was gonna go one of two ways, and luckily for me it was good. turns out i am still a dirty, smelly, hairy hippy deep down.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
4

One of the more intriguing albums recommended so far. There was no beginning, middle or end. Just sitar, all the way. Lovely.

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Fri Sep 23 2022
4

Honestly appreciated and enjoyed the spoken explanations throughout the album. Like a mini crash course on the rudiments of Indian classical music. I have only really heard this type of music via its pale imitation in 60s psychedelic rock. The real deal is far more dynamic and exciting. Really love the interplay of the percussion, drones, and soloing sitar. Exquisite jams.

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Thu Dec 31 2020
2

Not really my cup of tea. I like how he breaks down the various theory of what he's playing, but an hour of this is a lot.

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Wed Aug 18 2021
5

I've always loved the sounds of sitar and tabla. It sounded so "alien" to me as a kid. Later, when I finally heard this album in its entirety, I loved how it explained why it seemed so "alien". I wish there were other explanation albums in other musical genres.

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

I'm not fond of Indian culture, but Ravi Shankar sounds like an exception. First of all, the sole purpose of the album was not only to show but also to explain to the western audience — what is the sounds of India. And personally, I still can't describe the feeling, but there is really something magical that gives a feeling of control over the chaos. Similar to jazz music it requires more time to understand it. I won't lie, I've tried to listen to it the second time and am not able to distinguish one raga from another. But in the end, this album was able to shift my interest towards Indian culture and I'll definitely dig up more similar music

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Sun Feb 20 2022
5

There is something so delightful about the simple and friendly presentation of this album while still demonstrating virtuosic and archetypal classic Indian music.

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Mon Sep 21 2020
4

An interesting exploration of a type of music and culture that I am not at all familiar with. I enjoy the pauses to explain the music theory behind what makes Indian compositions unique.

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Mon Oct 26 2020
4

Dynamic from front to back the way I find much Indian music is to my novice ear. The explanations were a high point; I didn't expect them after the first track, but can now go back and try to understand each piece a bit better. Whatever the theoretical temptations to relate Indian classical music to jazz, it sounds entirely unique.

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Wed Jun 09 2021
4

Can totally see the influence on various bands of the time. Really interesting, actually

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Fri Mar 26 2021
4

I very much enjoyed this. At first I was a little taken aback by his, well I guess I’ll call it instructions. But only at the very beginning. I actually really liked it. I was cooking artichokes while I listened and I was able to shut off my kind and just concentrate on the act of cooking. I really liked that. Everything felt very natural and organic. Will listen again. For tomorrow Jason, it’s a 4. It could go a little over or under depending on the mood, but 4 it is

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Thu Feb 24 2022
4

Great Meditation music. The sitar is such a cool instrument and Shankar is the premier Indian musician for 9 decades. You are probably most familiar with his music from The Beatles when they were experimenting in the sixties with middle eastern philosophy.

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Thu Mar 24 2022
4

I had read some years ago an anecdote about Ravi Shankar and his combo giving a show, can't remember if it was in Europe or North America but this side of the world; as the show started the musicians played for a minute or so and then they stopped, and the audience got up and cheered. Ravi Shankar went to the mic and said something in the lines of "that's very kind of you but we were only tuning our instruments" On the first track of this album, An Introduction To Indian Music, he takes the time to explain the basis to us Occidental people. Actually, these explanations come and go from time to time across the length of the album. All this might sound somehow condescending, in the sense that he might try to school his audience (us, westerners), but it really is helpful if not necessary, as Indian music has rules of its own that doesn't really relate nor translate to the academic approach to European (and its descendants) music. The question presents itself spontaneously: is music really a universal language? I don't want to start myself on the possibilities of other life forms across the whole universe or even the possibility of the existence of music beyond the boundaries of our planet Earth, and if the aliens exists, do they still have ears? Can those ears hear? Can their brains or whatever those ears are connected to (if they exist, of course), decode the sonic signal the way we understand it? Because, you see, we imagine aliens from our human point of view, but they might be something, someone, completely different. Because we conceive that "somewhere else" from here, from the very place we live and always have lived in. "That" is there because "this" is here, but what if we could make abstraction of "this" and "here"? Where would "there" be?  But, yeah, music might as well be a universal language, but still, besides matters related to personal taste, one might lack the tools to really understand and appreciate "all" the music. Or the interest, right? In the same way that, say, a three year old kid might not have the same understanding of the spoken language than a professor in philosophy, even if they both speak the same "language". Or then again, the interest. Please note that I want to stick with the language thing, because a language is nothing else than a means to communication. And communication (I am about to become very technical here) is about coding, transport, and decoding. Therefore, communication is movement. Communication is evolving. The meaning of that last sentence is deliberately ambiguous, and I will leave it at that for you to interpret.  Me bringing up aliens having or not ears was also deliberate. Because when one chooses to be open, the possibilities become endless.  Ravi is a cool dude, his voice has a soothing quality. Or maybe it's just me fulfilling my own need of an Indian musician who speaks in a soothing way. We will never know. But we know that at the end of the aforementioned Introduction, Shankar says "The Western listener will appreciate and enjoy our music more if he listens with an open and relaxed mind" It's all about that. With everything, everywhere. 

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Thu Jul 21 2022
4

Really cool...like Indian classical music. Makes for great background listening. I appreciated the lessons that he gave on each song as well. 3.5/5

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Fri Sep 23 2022
4

Interesting that he was interested in evangelizing Hindustani classical music. I wonder if he would be so well known if not for George Harrison, but clearly his interest in spreading the music to the west was already in place before the Beatles. I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would, but I did enjoy it. Fun to hear his explanations of the music, but it does take away from this feeling like a real "album" as opposed to an instruction manual.

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Wed Nov 09 2022
4

I was familiar with this kind of music through well-known collaborations between Indian and western artists, in particular John McLaughlin (Shakti), but I was not familiar with this particular record. Shankar's explanations of the different musical elements are interesting, but it would take more listening and explanation to fully understand it all. However, following the master's advice by listening with an "open and relaxed mind", I was able to enjoy and appreciate this album.

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Wed Jan 04 2023
4

A fascinating artefact documenting the West’s introduction to Indian classical music. Although Shankar wasn’t the first to implement the album format as a didactic tool of cultural discourse as much as a strictly melodic anchor point, his heightened profile really makes this a significant milestone in the Western canon. The actual music, interspersed with Shankar’s brief monologues explaining the forthcoming musical structures, is a gargantuan slab of exhilarating sitar playing which is undoubtedly captivating at various particular points as opposed to a coherent whole. If you embrace Shankar’s initial plea to an open mind towards this form of music, it is a truly rewarding experience from a legendary player.

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Wed Dec 06 2023
4

Ravi’s music is mesmerizing, intricate, soul-stirring, and, for those of us in the western hemisphere, so incredibly unique. Forget 4/4. How about 14? How about 16? In his intros, Ravi tells you he’s going to come at you with some wild stuff. And then he does. Effortlessly. I only only wish I could hear this sound in person.

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Fri Apr 02 2021
3

Liked it as my introduction to Indian music. Don't really know what subgenres there are but the sound was cool. The concept of the album was interesting and a great way to introduce a western audience to the genre. Will probably relisten if I want to listen to Indian music, 5/8. Favorite song An Introduction to Indian Music.

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Thu Feb 04 2021
3

Love the introduction to Indian music. Different scales leading to different sounds. The sitar is an amazing backing instrument, when its the lead it's chimey and annoying. A talented musician for sure but the sound got old fast

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Fri Feb 12 2021
3

I seriously respect what he did and his musicianship is amazing. It’s incredibly difficult to break into the West and his career is worth knowing about. But I simply can’t listen to a 50 minute sitar solo any more than I could a Joe Satriani guitar album. It may sound shallow, but I prefer to listen to the sitar used in a more Western song style. But I would see the traditional sound live 100%.

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Mon May 24 2021
3

5 x 10 minute / song album, recording in 1958. This guy has so much music released, incredible. Known to be a virtuoso from north of India. Very interesting pick, the first song is an introduction to the theory of Indian music.

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Sun Jul 18 2021
3

If I had to pick my favorite Indian sitar virtuoso,I would always choose the only Indian sitar player I know, Mr. Shankar.

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Wed Oct 06 2021
3

Really fucking excellent. Ravi shagged the shit out of it, didn't he? If it was a TV show, it'd be Big Break and Jim Davidson would be livid.

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Wed Nov 09 2022
1

For sure, this is influential music, but I lack the open mind to go for it and just found it unlistenable on this occasion.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
5

Ich hab dreimal Rave geschrieben... Brain... Die Introduction hat mir gefallen. War mal was anderes und hat es für mich aufgewertet. Im Folgenden habe ich versucht auf die angesprochenen Details zu achten und habe festgestellt, dass die Musik mir dabei nach einer Weile geordneter erschien. Kann natürlich auch Einbildung sein. Erforderte jedoch Konzentration. Die Art von Musik hatte mir schon vorher zugesagt, als ich sie mir nur mit Improvisation erklärt habe. Anders als das türkische Klacker-Gedudel. Es wirft aber wieder Fragen auf. Sinnliche Background Noise, die der Künstler mir geholfen hat auf einer neuen Eben wertzuschätzen. Merk ich mir und werd ich erneut hören.

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Fri May 14 2021
5

Really good intro to the whole genre. Ravi is a beast

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Mon Jul 05 2021
5

I really enjoyed this, particularly with the voiceovers Ravi does to provide context to the songs to those unfamiliar with Indian classical music. I listened to some Western classical music on the radio the other day and I was struck by how much work the host was doing to set the stage for the music that was being played - the context really helps me understand and get into the music. Also I've heard sitar before (including live performances) but these were particularly good.

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Fri Jul 23 2021
5

Ravi alternates giving helpful lessons and absolutely SHREDDING a sitar to within an inch of its life for 45 minutes. First album on this whole list that I feel like is way too short by half.

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Fri Sep 24 2021
5

Great listen. I would like to listen to it a bit more focused with his guidance in mind from the opening track and middle, but the overall sound is so beautiful.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

I dig this kind of music, will be listening again and again.

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Wed Nov 17 2021
5

This album is a beautiful soundbath

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Wed Apr 13 2022
5

Musikaliskt geni, älskar att försöka räkna med men misslyckas, kan lyssna på hans musik hela dagen

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Fri Apr 15 2022
5

5.0 + Ragas for gringos - love it!

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Fri Oct 14 2022
5

Uh? This is unusual? 1957? Should this be counted as 'Classical Music'? World Music? This guy is a legend even now. Weird to think he's Norah's dad. I'm listening to this with an incense burning and chilling. Beautiful music.

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Mon Nov 28 2022
5

muito massa o som indiano, grande mestre de geroge harrison

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Fri Mar 24 2023
5

I always love Indian music when I listen to it, although it is very very complicated and I often felt like I was losing something. The introduction tracks made an excellent addition and were greatly appreciated for this reason! As to be expected, there are loads of inspiring improvisational ideas, and overall a great listen

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Fri Apr 14 2023
5

I'm just gonna go ahead and give this a 5.

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Fri May 05 2023
5

Come for the great tunes, stay for the music theory lesson! ✒️✒️✒️✒️✒️

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Mon Aug 14 2023
5

Wow this is excellent- will be listening to this a lot

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Tue Sep 12 2023
5

There's something so sweet and uncynical and almost naive about this, it's like a music lesson and an album in one.

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Thu Sep 28 2023
5

High art vaikka pikku intiamies vanha taivaltaja kadulle päästelee.. Low elämä.. Ruskeat kadut mutta musiikki viisasta.. Soundi liian länsimaistunut tässä.. huomaa erilaista kun englantia kaveri veisaa.. Ei ihan huippuunsa pääse siis.. Kuitenkin onko utopistista aito intia kaveri.. tämän lähemmäksi ei pääse..kö....?

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Thu Dec 14 2023
5

I loved the little lessons before each song even if I didn't always understand them very well. (I never thought classical Indian music was kind of like jazz until he told me it wasn't.) I like his willingness to teach to help others appreciate it more. And it's wonderful, timeless music. (It also benefited from being on Apple Music so that I could listen to it more easily and closely than our other recent classical Indian album.)

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Fri Dec 22 2023
5

uncle George was good friends with him

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Sun Jan 07 2024
5

Отлично. В плейлист ничего не занесу, но отлично

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Mon Jan 22 2024
5

An awesome introduction to the sitar by the Maestro himself.

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Thu Feb 08 2024
5

A foundational work that introduced foreign audiences to the essential sounds of the Indian subcontinent.

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Wed Apr 07 2021
4

Very interesting introduction to Indian classic music!

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Sat Apr 10 2021
4

Interesting, different, enjoyable

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Fri Jun 18 2021
4

- genuinely hard to rate a genre of music you don't know - nice balance of busy and background - can't tell the different impacts of the ragas but fascinating introductions.

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Fri Jun 18 2021
4

I'm not sure if listening to this is cultural enrichment or cultural appropriation... Nonetheless the journey to Shangri - La was very enjoyable.

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Fri Jul 23 2021
4

I like music I like sitar I like learning

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Fri Aug 06 2021
4

Let's my mind roam free and walk down strange avenues. Standout Tracks: Dádrá, Bhimpalási, Sindhi-Bhairavi

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Mon Sep 27 2021
4

Not my preferred style, but I can appreciate the talent.

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Fri Oct 08 2021
4

yo eerlijk tof dat die zo tegen u praat

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Wed Oct 13 2021
4

Found myself really enjoying this. The bit of music theory was nice too.

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Fri Nov 05 2021
4

Chill nice music with some good basic explanations.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
4

Very relaxing, rapid scitar is impressive and interesting changes in tempo.

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Wed Dec 01 2021
4

I know nothing about indian music, but I enjoyed this and it's great music to work to.

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Wed Jan 05 2022
4

Really interesting to hear the teaching aspect and theory presenting Indian musical stylings to western audiences alongside the music itself. I like the sound of a lot of Indian music and instrumentation, so glad to have gotten this little bit of insight I would not have had otherwise.

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Thu Feb 17 2022
4

Good but didn't hit the same as my slime shivkumar sharma. I am woefully unqualified to speak on this topic. Plz disregard arbitrary star rating

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Fri Feb 18 2022
4

Well that was fun and different for me.

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Sun Feb 20 2022
4

Felt like a warm invitation into a new cultural experience of music, and clearly a virtuosic one. I wouldn't return to it often, but I'll enjoy it every time I do.

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Mon Mar 07 2022
4

The commentary needed to be more detailed or nonexistent.

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Fri Mar 25 2022
4

Treating this as a tutorial of Indian music made it fascinating.

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Thu Apr 07 2022
4

I’ve always loved the sitar interesting to listen to it for a full album!

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Wed Apr 13 2022
4

ÄNTLIGEN! det här är anledningen till varför jag signade upp på den här utmaningen. så kul att höra nåt nytt och fräscht. Jaja även om han kanske är den mest västerländskt kända sitar-spelaren (som the beatles skamlöst hm inspirerades av) var det ändå något nytt.

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Wed Apr 13 2022
4

Cool to get some music theory in here. The music is really cool, and it's neat to hear someone explaining what's going on.

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Fri Apr 22 2022
4

Just looking at the cover, I'm glad this wasn't the first album generated for me. I'm guessing this will be a bit challenging to get through. Opening it up and looking at the track lengths yes, potentially a chore but could go either way. Here we go! Turns out the best of anything is often pretty good. I liked it.

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Fri May 06 2022
4

Ravi, what a master! Loved hearing this. And his little explainers for the uninitiated were great.

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Fri May 06 2022
4

They'll probably be in the Zen room.... The tabla is one of my favourite instruments. This was very enjoyable. Stop! Raga time!

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Thu Jul 21 2022
4

love Ravi - could listen to this for hours

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Mon Aug 22 2022
4

Interesting to hear, not to good for background music.

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Wed Aug 24 2022
4

Great intro. Interesting compare/contrast to jazz

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