February 27, 2017

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)


  1. Thank you very much, Richard. Happy that you are back. Got already worried. Sorry for the hard disc problem. I had that recently too. Most of the files just had disappeared, amongst them all the files I had already prepared for future posts on my blog including cover scans. I used to restore it a program called Wondershare Data Recovery. It took about 24 hours to restore almost everything. Only some minor data remained lost.

  2. Tawfiq, I am sorry I caused you any concern. My profession is famous for taking up its practitioners' free time, but I have made some changes so I will have more time to do enjoyable things such as listen to music, go to concerts, and upload audio files to this blog!

    I wound up losing only about 50mb of data. The biggest problem was the slow-motion transfer of the files from the ailing HD to a new one. I would set a certain amount of files to be transferred, and because of the damage to the first drive, it would take, say, 8 hours to transfer a certain amount of data. I would perform it overnight, but that was still maybe 50 or 60 sessions of transferring data.

    Backing up data is a bit like exercising and eating healthy. Everyone will tell you it's important do do it but even those people who tell you that don't always get around to doing it themselves. I have told many people to back up their data! I was, but not as regularly as i am now (daily).

    Anyone looking for an excellent blog should definitely check out Tawfiq's magnificent blog, listed to the right. My blog is just a junior shadow of his achievement.