Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar ★★★★

OK, it’s not fair reviewing six albums at once. The third (West Meets East) and last (Shankar Sitar Concertos) were a touch different, in that they also included either Yehudi Menuhin or an orchestra, or both). In the first album, Ravi explains in western musical terms exactly what is happening with the music. First, it is not based exactly on the western 12-tone system and will have many other tones included. It will not necessarily utilize conventional harmonies. The beat may be quite odd metered-such as 13 beats per measure. It is a mix of fixed format as well as improvisations, though Ravi makes clear that it definitely is not jazz. All in all, it has a tendency toward serialism, or minimalism, which it also is not.  Shankar did cut an album with the master of minimalism, Phillip Glass, which shows a tendency to accommodate such a musical form. I don’t like minimalism, though this music was rather enjoyable to listen to. The sitar is a fairly complex instrument to play and is usually accompanied by a “drone” as well as a semi-pitched percussion instrument. I’m not sure there is a necessity of purchasing many albums by Ravi Shankar since the pieces seem to lack the distinctiveness that would allow the listener to distinguish one piece from another. I’m sure more familiarity with his music might help a bit.