Famed sitar player and music legend Ravi Shankar passed away this week at the grand old age of 92. Dubbed "The Godfather of World Music" by ex-Beatle and longtime friend George Harrison, Shankar was an unlikely international music star whose sitar playing introduced millions to the beautiful ragas (melodies) and talas (rhythms) of Indian music.
There may never again be a musician who exerts the depth and breadth of universal, intergenerational, cross-cultural, pan-stylistic influence that Shankar exerted in the world of music. Consider that Shankar played with the top rock musicians of the day at both the Woodstock and Monterey Pop festivals. Consider that in 1971 he both organized and played at the Concert for Bangladesh — the first "benefit" concert which later inspired such benefit concerts as "Live Aid", "Farm Aid", and, more recently, the "12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief". Consider that Shankar influenced and collaborated with such diverse musicians as minimalist composer Phillip Glass, classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane (who named his son Ravi in honor of Shankar.)
I personally became acquainted with the beauty of Shankar's music 25 years ago when I stumbled across his album "Tana Mana" in my local library's CD collection. If you'd like to acquaint yourself with this lovely album, which combines the traditional instruments of Indian music (sitar, tabla, etc.) with synthesizers and keyboard, you can download tracks, as well as tracks from many other Shankar albums, free from our Freegal database with your PPL library card.
If you're interested in exploring and learning more about Ravi Shankar and his music, the library offers a number of avenues, including books, CDs, and DVDs. I've put together this curated list in our Bibliocommons catalog that links to these items as well as YouTube clips, and a playlist of Shankar's music curated from our Contemporary World Music database.
If you'd like to stream a few tracks from the playlist, point your smartphone at these QR codes or follow the hotlinked song titles. (Note that Contemporary World Music is only one of many online resources that offers you free streaming or download access to millions of tracks.)
Raga Bhupal Todi – Tala Ardha Jaital (Live), in The Ravi Shankar Collection: In San Francisco
Dhun Kafi, in The Ravi Shankar Collection: In London
Mishra Ghara Dhun , in Sitarscape
Enjoy this YouTube audio track of "Tana Mana", also available for download with your Princeton Public Library Card from Freegal