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RIP Ravi Shankar

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He was one of my heroes as a kid. I was 14 when he played the Monterey Pop Festival, and was well aware of him being a teacher to George Harrison, and having an influence on lots of people at the time.

He was a part of the hippie era, but did not subscribe to a lot of its values.. he was 47 in 1967, not a teenager. He complained about Western audiences doing drugs and "carrying on indecently with their girlfriends" during his concerts, even to the point of putting down his sitar and explaining to them that it was disrespectful to do so. And he was quite upset when someone used one of his records as background for a porno film, LOL.

Coltrane admired him and even named his son after him. Ravi's ragas influenced Trane's modal direction in the early '60s. I read that the two were scheduled to record together, but decided not to, since neither knew the other one's tradition well enough.

I definitely remember when everyone was doing their modal noodlings (with varying results) and calling them "ragas", which is sort of like doing "Malaguena" and calling yourself a flamenco guitarist. It was considered cool to have a sitar on a song or two on a record at the time, and then came the electric sitar......

But it was fun at time, and Ravi stood above all the nonsense and just promoted his country's music and culture.

To me, his ragas were just another form of lead guitar playing, and I always enjoyed Indian music, though I never seriously tried to play it - just copy a lick or two from a record.

Ravi said he noodled on guitar for fun, but "never seriously...never!" so he respected our instrument, too, LOL.



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Heard the news while up late with a toothache and surfing the tube for distraction. Didn't help.


Shankar was the gateway for many who found a way of lifestyle through far eastern culture. The more some found out about Shankar and his music, the more they learned about his culture and found it interesting. I for one am ashamed I do not have more of his music at hand. The sitar is probably the most unique of all stringed instruments, and having largely Shankar to hear as a comparison study if you're trying to learn to play it must be frustrating to those students.


As far as Shankar is concerened, don't fret about him being gone. Some day, he'll be back!


I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Unique? Yes, indeed. I never played one, but those two gourds, and how you sit when you play it, and the moveable frets, and the metal sitar picks (mizrabs) that pinch your fingers......

Not an easy instrument, by all accounts,which is why guitarists played electric sitars - kind of a cool sounding instrument, BTW, though it's not designed for real ragas.

Somewhere in my collection I have an album by a jazz guitarist (whose name I forget) playing electric sitar instead of guitar - pretty cool.

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Was I thinking of Gabor Szabo? No - another guy.


I'd actually like to get a good electric sitar, if I could afford it. The problem would be having to tune the drone strings with an Allen wrench, though Jerry Jones makes one with standard tuners for the drones.

But there are other instruments I want more, and would actually USE ON STAGE regularly.... like this gorgeous electric mando I have $300 down on.

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I actually saw him live one time long ago in Toms River NJ (of all places) at the community college there. (which I actually helped build)(I was a union bricklayer at the time)


Anyways I have to say that I saw one stunning show of string player virtuosity, and it was one of the very best live shows I ever attended. RIP Ravi you done real good.

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I think his uncompromising professionalism is a big reason why his influence was so huge.

I have toyed with sitar but never really aspired to learn it. However a bandmate and I acquired the Ragapedia, which is kind of a thesaurus of ragas. He paid more than I did so he got the book. I got the tape that goes with it and copied the intro and forward, which is an education in itself. I can still recite the Indian solfeggio, which goes sa-re-ga-ma-pa-mi-re-sa. But it`s the microtonal values that make the music so fascinating.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-


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