|“It is utter joy, uninhibited, that an artist experiences. The raga, the musician, the listeners, all become one.” ~ Ravi Shankar|
I awoke this morning to the very sad news of Ravi Shankar's passing. I grew up listening to Shankar. And to the Beatles whose interest in his music introduced him to a much larger audience than he might otherwise have known. In my mother's massive record collection was the album Live at Monterey. Over the years, I practically wore the grooves off of it. Shankar taught me an entirely new way to experience music -- as deep meditation. I would come home from school, some days, and drift through time and space as I listened to Bhimpalasi, "one of the most beautiful raga of the late afternoon."
This was Shankar's incredible gift. He was able to school the West on the consciousness shifting capacity of music.
With an instrument perplexing to most Westerners, Ravi Shankar helped connect the world through music. The sitar virtuoso hobnobbed with the Beatles, became a hippie musical icon and spearheaded the first rock benefit concert as he introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over nearly a century.
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Labeled "the godfather of world music" by [George] Harrison, Shankar helped millions of classical, jazz and rock lovers discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music.
"He was legend of legends," Shivkumar Sharma, a noted santoor player who performed with Shankar, told Indian media. "Indian classical was not at all known in the Western world. He was the musician who had that training … the ability to communicate with the Western audience."
I could probably go on at some length about the man, his genius, and the incredible gift to the world that is his body of work, but compared to the incredible tapestry of sound he created, words fail.