Friday nite… what a rush! (A music diary)

Soooo… Friday nite I did what I almost always do that night. I go down to my music room and play music.  

About a year and a half ago Daphne came to me to study drums. (Tabla, the drums that are used in the classical music of India. I play Sarod, a stringed instrument.)

This person showed nice talent, mixed with a lot of shyness. I sort of played music with her, but it was tentative.

The last six months I encouraged her to study with my friend Joss, who is an outstanding Tabla player. Joss worked with her a lot. Last Thursday he went to San Francisco to work in the store of the school that I attended from 1967 to 1979, the Ali Akbar college of Music.

My friend Daphne came over and we ‘sat’, as we say in Indian music, at 7pm.

I particularly like a rhythm called ‘Sitarkhani’, which is a syncopated, danceable, wonderful rhythm that I happen to love. I explained it to her, we practiced, and then I started playing for real. I kept it simple for the first fifteen minutes, then started getting wild as I realized that she was playing ROCK SOLID. I was doing some very intricate things, and she was supporting my wildest flights of fancy.

After a while we listened to a recording of my teacher, Ali Akbar Khan, playing with one of the greatest Tabla players of the 20th century, the late and very lamented Mahapurush Misra. On the recording, which happens to be one of the famous ‘Connoisseur Society’ recordings by my teacher, and some of the greatest recordings not only of Indian music but of all time, Mahapurush plays some of the most engaging Sitarkhani ever recorded, and we listened, analyzed, notated, played, and laughed a lot as we realized that Daphne had ‘broken through’.

We stopped around midnite, and realized that we had been playing almost non-stop for five hours.

Yeah, I know; It’s not a political diary, and it may not be very meaningful in terms of Global Warming and all, but it’s that kind of moment that I live for; when someone ‘connects’, as another of my musical friends says.

Yes, I believe that music can save the world, and that, as Ali Akbar says, “there is only positive outcome from playing music together”.

Oh, and if you think that Indian music is that whiny, repetitive stuff sometimes referred to as ‘cats howling’ (That’s what my father called it until the day he heard me playing the real thing) I urge you’all to access the following, which is one of those Connoisseur Society recordings re-issued, and a recording that I feel is among the ten greatest ever of any type:

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan

Signature Series

Volume one

Part one

and set aside half an hour (Twenty minutes to listen, ten to be able to stand up) when you have absolutely no distractions. Start with just part one, “Chandranandan” and then let me know what you think, or feel, or whatever.

By the way, Allauddin Khan, the father of Ali Akbar Khan, was also the teacher of Ravi Shankar, who is much better known than Ali Akbar.

It’s a saga, the way that the music that was secret and kept for kings was accessed by Allauddin and taught to these two, and others, such as Nikhil Bannerjee, by far the greatest sitarist of the 20th century… But that’s another story!


  1. for bringing your musical experiences to this forum.  I, personally, love every minute of it and appreciate your comments as pertains to it.  

    I love Indian music and learned to love it from Ravi Shankar, the world’s greatest sitarist.  It’s wonderful music!

    It’s not the kind of music one could listen to endlessly, no more than one could stand to listen to jazz endlessly, but it is, to me, wonderful music that I appreciate.

    Thank you again, for bringing a “musical point of view” here to us all!

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