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: 


  1. Glad you're back! Better to buy more than one smaller drive than to "put all your eggs" on one large drive that could fail and not be retrievable. Just a thought...

    1. Bill, you are absolutely correct. The problem is that when one has 20-25 TB of files and increasing all the time. That is a lot of little drives! I will think about data archiving as much as I can this coming year. For now, I am spreading my digital files as far and wide as possible (with this blog, for example!).

  2. It sucks when drives go bad. Good luck with the transfer, and thanks for this audio, solace in dark times.

    1. Jonathon, music has never let me down the way people have. Even in historic times which we would consider unthinkable, great music has been made. That is the thin string of hope I am holding onto right now.

  3. Dear Richard, it looks like the flac files are under 320kbps mp3 mono (158.5 mB) and the mp3 under 16bit 44.1kHz FLAC mono (280.9 mB).

    1. Dear Tawfiq: Yes, you are absolutely correct about this. I have switched them and they are correct now. Hope you are doing well!

  4. Thanks for correction of FLAC & MP3 file. i want more on instrumental, Tabla solo & Vocal LP if possible please.
    Music is Life & Life is Music.


    1. There are maybe a bit over 100 LPs and 50 cassettes in my home office awaiting transferring. Very soon there will be a lovely LP from 1980 featuring Ustad Vilayat Khan and Zakir Hussain. After that there will be two commercially released cassettes by Ravi Shankar which are quite rare -- I have never seen copies and I had to work from digital files made by someone else. Then there is a stack of LPs which my friend Nels has generously lent me in order to transfer. Then... well, you get the picture.

      Many more instrumental and a few vocal LPs and cassettes are on their way.

      Tabla solo records on LP or cassette are few and far between. I posted a lovely double-cassette by Anindo Chatterjee last year but had to remove it when I found out it was still in print as a CD. My sincere suggestion to you is to watch the many tabla solo recordings on youtube, which is beginning to become the premiere source of hard-to-find music. 10 years ago I would have said that place was your local used record shop; 5 years ago I would have said blogs such as this one were the place. Now, it is youtube. People are uploading amazing material every day. There is one fellow who is uploading recordings his father made back in the 1960s of classical concerts in India. There is one gentleman who would video tape house concerts in the 1980s and 90s and is slowly releasing them on his account. There are a dozen other accounts on youtube i could tell you about. If you have the time to properly search, you can find things that will never be available in any other form.

      Maybe once a week I should round up a selection of youtube videos which are particularly noteworthy. (and don't forget there are excellent "youtube downloaders" which are apps that capture either the whole video or just the audio portion from youtube videos. The one I use is called "iTubeDownloader" but there are many more out there)

  5. Yours is completely a labour of love and it shows in what you do. Thank you very much for the music that you post.

  6. I am discovering your blog. It's fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your passion and make us discovering such treasures.

  7. I am discovering your blog. It's fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your passion and make us discovering such treasures.