February 27, 2017

Vilayat Khan: Enchanting All the Way [ECSD 2857] an LP released in India in 1980

Here is a solid LP released in 1980 featuring Vilayat Khan and Zakir Hussain.

Very little needs to be said about these two musicians that hasn't been said many times before. I do think having three different photos of the Ustad on the front cover is a bit much.

side one: Raga Mand-Bhairav (alap)
side two: Raga Mishra Mand (gat in tritaal)

Vilayat Khan: sitar
Zakir Hussain: tabla

Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in pure clean water, followed by a quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24bit/96kHz resolution
Software: Audacity, ClickRepair, and xAct. 

(the highest resolution I am capable of producing)

(suitable for burning to CD)

320 kbps mp3 (110 MB)
(highest possible quality mp3 file, 
suitable for listening on a portable player)

Another FM broadcast -- Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha Khan, live in Paris 1973-11-28

Here is another (the last) recording made by "The French Gentleman" of Indian Classical music broadcast on French radio in the 1970s.  This is also the last of my posts before I start up again with vinyl and cassette transfers. These will be starting to appear within a day or so.

Eventually I will be starting a new blog devoted to live, unofficial recordings of Hindustani and Carnatic music. This will include three kinds of recordings: mixing board recordings by sound engineers, open air recordings by members of an audience, and also FM broadcasts captured by enthusiasts at home. This offer is an example of the last category.

Had the French Gentleman not been home that night to record the radio broadcast with his reel-to-reel recorder, we probably wouldn't be hearing the performance, as truncated as it is. I find it a shame that such broadcasts are not more freely available. We have many documents of Ravi ji in the studio in the 1970s, but relatively few of him live in concert in the 1960s and 1970s. There is a spontaneity of such live performances which cannot be replicated in the studio.

Here is the original info file I shared a few weeks ago on the "Dimeadozen" website, which is devoted to sharing previously unissued live recordings:


Salle Pleyel
FM broadcast (mono)

01 introduction by RS  (03:05)
02 Raga Kaushi Kanada (with radio announcer at the end)  (34:34)
03 Tabla solo in rupak taal (interrupted by announcer)  (08:52)

Total Time: 46:27

original lineage:
fm > reel-to-reel (mono, 1st gen) > wav > flac

additional lineage:
flac -> wav -> click repair (click and buzz removal) -> audacity (EQ, minimal compression, DC offset, normalization) -> flac and mp3(xAct)

The original audio files, recorded by the reclusive, somewhat mysterious man known only as “The French Gentleman,” were in mono and were brickwalled. I was extremely concerned about possible severe distortion, but after removing clicks and ticks with the excellent app “ClickRepair,” and then (de-)amplifying the file by -6dB and applying much more aggressive EQ than usual, I was able to get a very nice sounding result. There is mid-range warmth and very little distortion.

Unfortunately, the broadcast seemed to be live in real time and was concluded before Alla Rakha’s tabla solo (as well as the rest of the concert) could be broadcast. Maybe somewhere in Paris, in the archives of the national broadcaster, there is the complete concert — but that would have required an engineer at the concert with a recorder as well as the desire to document this wonderful music.

This was recorded in 1973 by “The French Gentleman” and audio restoration was undertaken by Richard. The files were provided by Dimeadozen member “UncleMeat.”

(after converting to .wav files, these are suitable for burning to CD)

(the highest quality level of mp3 - suitable for listening on portable devices)

February 25, 2017

Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha Khan, live in Paris 1977-01-28 (FM broadcast, mono)

Unfortunately one of my hard disks developed a malfunction. I have been spending most of my spare time over the past few weeks slowly transferring the data to another drive, with the help of an excellent app called "Disk Warrior." Very little data will wind up being lost, but it has been a very very slow process and there has been little or no extra time for working on the blog.

It is always a good idea to back up your data. Hard drive costs are continually going down; a 4TB is a bit over $100 USD and is as much storage as most normal people will need. An 8TB drive is running about $200 from my favorite online retailer. After 4-5 years of use most drives will start to be at risk for failure. Always a good time to back up!

Here is a small post in the meantime. It was recorded from French radio in 1977 by a mysterious person known to tape trading circles as "The French Gentleman." I spent several hours restoring the audio as noted in the description below.


La Sorbonne (Grand Amphlitheatre)
28 January 1977

Ravi Shankar (sitar)
Ustad Alla Rakha Khan (tabla)
Sharmilla (?) (tampura)
Djarna (?) (tampura)

01 Introduction by RS (02:17)
02 Tabla solo in rupak taal (16:13)
03 Raga Misra Pilu (51:21)

Total time: 69:51

original lineage:
fm > reel-to-reel (mono, 1st gen) > wav > flac

additional lineage:
flac -> wav -> ClickRepair (click and buzz removal) -> audacity (judicious EQ, minimal compression, DC offset, normalization) -> flac or mp3 (xAct) -> mac os compression to .zip -> you

The relatively small file size reflects the fact that it is a mono recording.

These files were recorded off the air by the French Gentleman and remastered by Richard.

(the above is an edited version of the original text file provided to me)

There was a considerable amount of FM radio-sourced clicks, buzzes and other extraneous noise as well as a small amount of intermittent HF distortion. The former was IMO fairly successfully dealt with; the latter is not able to be corrected. The resulting files are quite listenable.

Unfortunately the tabla was barely present in this recording (except for the tabla solo) and that is a reflection of the time. Often in the 1970s and before, tabla players were not even credited on LPs. It would take the world-wide success and popularity of Ustad Alla Rakha's son to help change this. 

(after converting to .wav files, these are suitable for burning to CD)

(compressed files with lowest level of data loss possible with mp3 files - 
suitable for listening to on portable devices)

My gratitude to my readers for their patience during this hard drive trouble. 

My final message today is a reflection of the very dark times in which we are living. Unfortunately, we are at a stage where a short-fingered vulgarian and 39% of the US population can make me reconsider whether it was a good idea to bring children into the world.

This slogan was originally part of a series of posters printed by the UK government during the second world war and designed to be posted in London metro stations. And yet 75 years later it is just as relevant: