August 12, 2018

Himangshu Biswas [SMOCE-1068] an LP recorded and released in India in 1967

This is a nice copy of a flute recital LP by a musician who recorded half a dozen or so LPs for EMI and Music India -- about half of them being duets. As can be seen, this copy has had its share of hard times, but the vinyl inside was in excellent shape.

Bansuri: Himangshu Biswas
Tabla: Shankha Chatterjee

Side one: 
Raga Narayani with compositions in slow Ektaal and fast Teentaal
Side two:
Thumri in Raga Khamaj

Equipment used in transfer: 

Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in pure clean water.
Turntable: Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure m97xE
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6 at 24bit/96kHz resolution
Software: AudacityClickRepair, and xAct

June 25, 2018

A sad note about the death of GS Sachdev

GS Sachdev, a flautist strongly associated with Ali Akbar Khan, has passed away.

I own several of his LPs and hope to digitize them soon.

Sachdev's playing showed a gravity and soulfulness which is often attempted but not always successfully by younger players... He had a very reserved, serious, and somber approach music and he will be missed.

June 23, 2018

Something unexpected

I was at my favorite local record shop yesterday, glancing through the bins of used and new LPs when I spotted something quite unexpected:

It probably isn't obvious when looking at a picture, but it was certainly obvious when picking these up and holding them -- they are two quite hefty double-LP's released this month by a French record company. These performances have never been released in any form before.

The first LP is from a house concert in Seattle, Washington and the second recording comes from a performance at a university in Seattle about a week earlier. The sources for both of these records came from the archive of Dagar's family and students.

Here are the promotional notes -- I hope the label (whose website is here) won't mind me borrowing them:

Around ten years ago, deep into a cozy and hazy night following a concert with my sound brothers Daniel O'Sullivan and Kristoffer Rygg in London (as Æthenor), they graciously introduced me to a recording of rudra veena (a kind of noble deeper bass relative to the sitar, in a way) as performed by dhrupad master Zia Mohiuddin Dagar.

Dhrupad, for those who do not know, is a branch of Hindustani classical music said to "show the raga in its clearest and purest form". It's pacing concentrates heavily on the slow, contemplative alap section and works with specific microtonal gestures and deep characteristics of resonance ... in short I was hooked on this new (to me) and ancient form of music from the first listen, and feel that a more or less continual listening & reviewing of Zia Mohiuddin Dagar's recordings in the years that followed have influenced my own approach to music quite heavily (if, albeit, indirectly).

In early 2015 I was able to make contact with Zia Mohiuddin Dagar's son Bahauddin and some of his American students/disciples, primarily Jeff Lewis. Over time we developed a friendly and educational exchange, including access to a massive archive of recordings and developed these two paired titles for my label. It's been a long path to arrive at actually releasing them but also probably in many ways one of the most significant releases I've worked on. And I'm proud to be able to reveal these to date unreleased archival recordings of one of the masters of dhrupad, Z. M. Dagar, to the public for the first time.

Zia Mohiuddin Dagar was the nineteenth generation in a family tradition known as Dagar gharana, a rich lineage which continued and performed the musical form of dhrupad (Bahauddin Dagar continues the lineage as a master rudra veena dhrupad player of note today). Initially, dhrupad was a rigorous, austere, devotional genre that was sung in Hindu temples. But between the 16th and the 18th centuries, it became the preeminent genre in royal courts in North and Central India, and the Dagar gharana developed and continued publicly following the eventual loss of court patronage for dhrupad in the 19th century. The French ethnomusicologist Renaud Brizard covers the story of Zia Mohiuddin Dagar's life and teaching (a long story also in Seattle, my hometown!), the Dagar family and gharana, the rudra veena and more topics in an extensive set of liner notes in this release.

Raga Yaman was recorded at a public concert in Seattle at the HUB Ballroom at the University of Washington in March 1986 (the week after the accompanying release SOMA028 Ragas Abhogi & Vardhani was recorded) at the end of his last tour of the United States. Yaman was a special raga for Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, one of his signature raags. For centuries, Yaman has been considered as one of the most fundamental ragas in Hindustani music and is one of the first ragas which is taught to students. A deep knowledge of Yaman gives a key for understanding many other ragas. It's filled with tranquility, contemplation, pathos and spiritual yearning. .

-Stephen O'Malley, March 2018, Paris, France

And who is Steven O'Malley, you might be wondering. He is a guitarist best known for his "drone rock" group called Sunn O))) - pronounced "sun." He is originally from Seattle but currently lives in Paris.

I find it interesting how many musicians I meet who are performing in so-called Western traditions such as jazz or rock music, but who have a deep interest in Indian Classical Music. I personally know at least half a dozen musicians, including a film composer, several full-time jazz musicians and one violinist for a local symphony orchestra who are taking lessons in Indian rhythm. Those are just the people I happen to know by name in my city. There are other musicians whom I happen to talk to, who share with me their interest in Indian Classical. It always surprises me, each time. 

Just a note about download links - none, this time. Go buy the LP or CD (easily available online from the usual suspects such as Amazon) or listen for free (with ads every few "songs") on Spotify, or enjoy the entire albums on the label's YouTube feed. The public concert is available as a multi-part video:

June 11, 2018

Pannalal Ghosh: The Magic Flute of Pannalal Ghosh [MOAE 5006] an LP released in India in 1968

Here we have a delightful LP by the legendary bansuri maestro Pannalal Ghosh, uncle of a certain sitarist (and tabla maestro) who was recently featured in this space with several live performances.

Hopefully, it will be the beginning of a series of transfers of LPs by Pannalal Ghosh as well as some other (at least three, possibly four) flautists both in his tradition and outside of it. 

Equipment used in transfer: 

Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in pure clean water.
Turntable: Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: ATmono3LP
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24bit/96kHz resolution
Software: Audacity, ClickRepair, and xAct

May 26, 2018

Nayan Ghosh and Yogesh Samsi: live in Austin and Houston (Texas) on their 2001 tour

Nayan Ghosh: sitar
Yogesh Samsi: tabla

Excerpts from concerts in:
Houston, Texas, USA on June 30, 2001
Austin, Texas, USA on July 01, 2001
soundboard (straight from the mixing board) recordings

Total time: 79:14 minutes

01 Raga Poorvi 2001-07-01 (56:56)
Composition in Vilambit (slow tempo) 
Composition in Drut (fast tempo)
02 Raga Sohini 2001-06-30 (13:01)
03 Baul Song 2001-06-30 (9:14)

Nayan Ghosh happens to be the nephew of legendary flautist Pannalal Ghosh. Of somewhat more interest is that he has a dual career as both a sitarist and a tabla player. 

The original seeder's notes (presented as a courtesy to the taper -- his opinions are his own):
"Terms of use: These files are intended for non-commercial use for music lovers  and may be freely traded or given away provided that (a) all the files including this one are included and (b) they are not converted to any lossy format such as mp3. Any commercial use is prohibited and will result in the copyright holder pursuing legal action against the violator(s).

"Nayan Ghosh is one of the best amongst is his generation of sitar players that include Shahid Parvez Khan and Buddhaditya Mukherjee. Of the three, his playing is the most soulful and conveys a high-level of emotion.  Indian music is based on playing vocal compositions. Pandit Ghosh learnt vocal and tabla from his father, Padmabhushan Pandit Nikhil Ghosh.

"I am seeding a CD's worth of material that I listen to all the time consisting of material from Houston, TX (June 30, 2001) and Austin, TX (July 1, 2001). I had been after Pandit Ghosh for a long time to get me a quality recording of the last two pieces of this collection and in Houston he not only played them but gave an inspired performance. The first piece, presented in 3 movements, was a raga I had not heard him play before and has quickly become one of my favorites.

Accompanying on tabla is Yogesh Samsi, a disciple of Taranath Rao (who taught at Cal Arts) and Alla Rakha who is Zakir Hussain's father).

Please support the artist as he does tour the USA regularly and has several CDs out. Check out his CD on Raga Records ( which is available on Amazon or from Raga.

SBD->DAT->Soundforge->CD-R->EAC->FLAC 8 w/align on sector boundaries

Editing Notes: Because Indian music involves a lot of tuning and the pieces are each very long, I edit so that only the music remains to allow the most music to fit on each CD."

Nayan Ghosh and Parviz Ayan: Live in Furth, Germany, on 2010-05-06

Please note: the download link is now working correctly. Please see my note in the comments section for details.

Here is the fifth live recording I am sharing this week -- I originally downloaded this from the Dimeadozen live music torrent site.

Maybe one or two more live concerts before I return to the serious business of digital transfers. This is a long holiday weekend in the United States and I hope that there will be some time for me to devote to a few transfers. Probably after I clean out the garage!

Nayan Ghosh: sitar
Parviz Ayan: tabla
at the Kulturforum, Furth, Germany

Excellent audience recording by Thomas Wulf using Soundman OKMII binaural microphones -- listen on headphones for a "you are there" experience. Mr Wulf also designed some lovely CD art if you like to make CDRs from these uploads.

Total time: 119:50 minutes

disc 1 (66:48 minutes)
Tuning and intro (7:50)
Rag Puriya Kalyan
- Alap, Jod and Jhala (25:40)
- Compositions in teentaal (26:33)
Rag Kamod (6:35)

disc 2 (53:04 minutes)
Tuning and intro (2:47)
Rag Charukeshi (19:55)
Rag Khamaj (Thumri alap, Thumri, Dhun) (20:11)
Rag Bhairavi (10:08)

original taper's notes:
"One of the most renowned musicians of Indian classical music came to play a wonderful concert this week. The region had been starving for this for years now..

"It was an amazing evening. His tone and lyrical moods touched our hearts and his virtuosity made quite an impression. He played one long rag with all the explorations and variations. In the second set he played two medium length ragas which were very lyrical and romatic imo. Both sets were concluded by two short ragas.

"In his introduction the artist not only explained the structure of ragas in general and the special properties of the ones he played; he also mentioned how coming back to Germany after 25 years has a nostalgic feeling; it was here that he played his first concerts outside of India..

"He was accompanied by the Munich-based Afghan tabla virtuoso Parviz Ayan; the two had meet earlier that day for the first time and only played a little during the afternoon! Absolutely astonishing!! They were cautious, not to be in each other's way but their perfomance was flawless and very sweet.

"The recording came out very good, I feel, but judge for yourselves!

"As usual: share freely but never for money!

"Covers and labels are included and the tracks are tagged. In time you will also find infos etc on my covers site at\covers "

May 23, 2018

Aashish Khan and Prabir Mitra: live in Stuttgart, Germany on 2015-07-19

Here we have another selection from the virtual pile of live recordings I have acquired slowly over the years. This one was certainly a concert at which I would have liked to have been present. First of all, there were two morning ragas performed in the morning and secondly there was no amplification.

Hindustani musicians often explain that their tradition goes back centuries. Not so often mentioned is how this could possibly be, when there were no microphones, amplifiers, or speakers turned up past the point of distortion. It just doesn't seem possible that there were concerts in the 15th or 16th century!

Aashish Khan has not lived his life without some controversy. I will give him a lot of credit, however, for the courage to perform a morning concert and to not use amplification and processing effects such as compression and artificial reverb. 

The taper seemed to have some problems with the batteries on his Edirol R-09HR (a well-known complaint about this recorder -- I use an AC power cord when I am recording LP transfers) so that we only have the first half of the concert. 

Half is better than nothing, however, and I am grateful to have it and also to be able to share it with you.

The original info file which accompanied the recordings is below (unedited, as received):


Theater Am Faden, Stuttgart, Germany


Lineage: Audience regording with Roland R-09HR > AUDACITY > YOU
Ustad Aashish Khan: sarod
Prabir Mitra: tabla

An almost private concert featuring this morning raga in front of a rather small audience of about 30 people in a very intimate atmosphere in a very (very!) old and dark building - and without any sound system.

The concert started at 11 am and featured two mornig ragas. The second one (I forgot the name of) was even a bit longer and very free - with a very long duell between sarod and tabla! 

Well, I was only able to record the first one due to battery problems (as always with the Roland).

The night before they also played there (this time it was sold-out) but I couldn't come.

Complete content of my recording:
0: tuning and announcement 3:28
1: Raag Bilahkani Todi 35:23


May 22, 2018

Aashish Khan and Pranesh Khan: live in Eugene, Oregon on 2012-04-15

This is a concert (the third of four that I am going to upload this week) featuring Aashish Khan on Sarod with his brother Pranesh Khan on tabla. There is a little bit more explaining than usual for such concerts and I found the commentary interesting.

April 15, 2012
Beall Concert Hall
University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 

Aashish Khan: sarod
Pranesh Khan: tabla
Doug Scheuerell: tanpura
Josh Feinberg: tanpura

Track listing:
101 Introductory remarks
102 Raga Bhimpalasi Alap
103 Remarks from stage
104 Compositions in teentaal
201 Remarks from stage
202 Tabla solo 
203 Remarks from stage
204 Raga Bhairavi 

Total time: 104 minutes

recorded from the audience using a pair of DPA 4061 microphones

May 21, 2018

Ali Akbar Khan and Zakir Hussain: live in Stockholm, Sweden on 1980-11-15

This second live recording of Ali Akbar Khan's fall 1980 tour is from an FM broadcast of the concert which took place on 1980-11-15. The venue was not specified in the digital transfer I received.

Ali Akbar Khan: sarod
Zakir Hussain: tabla
Mary Johnson: tanpura

Total Time: 46 minutes, 9 seconds

This was certainly not the entire concert and may or may not have been the entire broadcast. It is not clear whether the date I have is of the concert or the broadcast, or both. Once again an audio cassette was transferred and shared by Jack Warner. Thank you, Jack!

Ali Akbar Khan and Zakir Hussain: live in San Diego, California on 1980-10-17

This is one of two live recordings of Ali Akbar Khan and Zakir Hussain recorded in the fall of 1980 which I will be uploading in the next few days. 

This one is from venue at SDSU in San Diego, California. The next upload will be from a concert in Stockholm, Sweden on 1980-11-15. 


Ali Akbar Khan and Zakir Hussain
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA
October 17, 1980

Ali Akbar Khan: sarod
Zakir Hussain: tabla
Mary Johnson: tanpura

Total time: 76 minutes, 32 seconds

This tape was transferred (from an analog cassette recorded at the mixing desk) by legendary audio collector Jack Warner, who graciously shared his transfer. Thank you, Jack!

May 19, 2018

Bhajan Saupuri: Santoor Recital [CBS BS001] a cassette recorded and released in India in 1984

Bhajan Saupuri (or Sopori, or Sopuri -- depending on your source) is a santoor performer born in 1948. Not a lot of his recordings are currently available. This one is from a series produced by Swarashree Records and released (reissued?) in India by CBS. The Swarashree recordings document many lesser known but musically interesting performers. Some labels are only interested in recording musicians they consider to be the absolute highest tier artist for each instrument and that is how we wind up with many dozens of LPs, cassettes and CDs by a small and dwindling group of artists. Swarashree recorded both very well-known musicians and other, equally interesting musicians. Despite uneven quality control in recording and manufacturing, it's often worth searching out their releases.

side one: 
Raga Jog: Alap, Jod, Jhalla followed by a composition in teentaal

side two:
Compositions in Ragas Jhinjhoti and Misra Kafi
Kashmiri Dhun

Bhajan Sopori: Santoor
Mahadeo Indorekar: Tabla

Equipment used in this transfer:
Cassette Deck: Teac W890R (azimuth was carefully adjusted for each side)
Preamp: Parasound PHP 850
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24/96 resolution
Software: Audacity and xAct

April 23, 2018

Kishori Amonkar: Mharo Pranam - Meera Bhajans [STCS 850699] a cassette released in India in 1984

Here is a nice collection of Bhajans (devotional songs) sung by the great Kishori Amonkar. These sorts of collections (this one released almost 35 years ago and featuring Meera Bhajans) can sometimes have less than tasteful musical arrangements, but this one is serious and devotional without being over the top or overly prettified.

Upon listening to the beginning of the second side of the tape, I was very surprised to hear what sounded like Kishori ji underwater, whether singing or drowning I wasn't entirely sure. I picked up a small screwdriver I have in place for such circumstances and hoped I could adjust the azimuth to make the cassette sound as it should. It was close, but after I tightened the screw for the second (playback) head so that it was as far to the left as it could be, suddenly the sounds above 4000Hz sprang to life, and i was no longer worried about the safety of Kishori ji.

Anytime I hear someone complain about how bad a particular cassette sounds, I have to wonder if they have learned about azimuth adjustment and practiced it. I know that as for myself I have sold or thrown out several cassette decks in my long life which may have only had to have their azimuth adjusted. I will spare you a long post detailing every cassette deck I have ever owned.

Eventually I am going to do a YouTube video about azimuth adjustment (since YT reaches a much larger audience that this small blog). It might seem like I am always mentioning this, but in terms of cassette transfers the correct tape-head alignment (azimuth) is a much more important factor than the quality of the deck or the audio tape used.

Please note: unavoidable travel and work issues will keep me from posting to any of my blogs for at least a week. Please do not worry about me! I will just be away from home and will come back very much motivated to transfer a stack of vinyl for your listening pleasure. In the meantime, please take the opportunity to deeply listen to my uploads as well as those of my blogging comrades listed at the right. Some of them upload their delightful posts so quickly that I personally don't have the time to appreciate the music they are sharing with me. That is a shame and I will do my best to keep up with my listening. In real life if I purchase a stack of records but don't get around to enjoying them, there is a visual reminder. However, it should be obvious that with digital files there is no stack of cardboard or plastic to remind you to get back to serious listening.

Equipment used in this transfer:
Cassette Deck: Teac W890R (azimuth was carefully adjusted for each side)
Preamp: Parasound PHP 850
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24/96 resolution
Software: Audacity and xAct

April 13, 2018

N Ramani: Haunting Melodies [Keerthana C-599] a cassette released in India in 1998

As a companion to the last post, we have an N Ramani cassette from Chennai from the late 1990s. Certainly there is quite the contrast in terms of budget for graphic design. One advantage the cassette has is the possibility for greater amounts of music per side, and this tape totals about 60 minutes.

Equipment used in this transfer:
Cassette Deck: Teac W890R (azimuth was carefully adjusted for each side)
Preamp: Parasound PHP 850
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24/96 resolution
Software: Audacity and xAct

March 26, 2018

N Ramani: La Flute de N Ramani [ESP 165516] an LP released in France in 1978

This was the 7th in a line of very distinguished LPs of Indian music released by Disques Esperance with the assistance of the French Association of Friends of the Orient. 

The AT-440MLb cartridge was having some difficulty with this slightly warped record. I recorded the entire LP only to listen on headphones and hear a high shrieking sound in the right channel intermittently throughout the first few minutes of each side. So I re-recorded it with the M97xE and there was no shrieking (thankfully).

It's a little amusing to see the differences between the names of the tracks on the label and the back cover -- I think maybe someone's handwriting was difficult to decipher.

N Ramani: flute
Paighat R Raghu: mridangam
Joanne: tanpura

Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in pure clean water
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure m97xE
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24bit/96kHz resolution
Software: AudacityClickRepairand xAct

March 25, 2018

Pramod Kumar: Le Sitar Indien [Arion ARN 34207] an LP released in France in 1973

This pleasant album has been reprinted in many different versions, with different titles and cover art. This particular LP has been manufactured in Italy, according to the labels. It is well recorded (as so many French albums are) and definitely deserves to be preserved and enjoyed.

There is not a tremendous amount of information on the internet about Pramod Kumar (1938-83) but he appears to have been an early disciple of Ravi Shankar and to have died at the young age of 45.

Unfortunately, the name of the tabla player is not mentioned -- a typical situation which persisted into the early 1980s.

side one: 
Raga Purya Kalyan

side two: 
Raga Shudh Sarang
Thumri based in Raga Sindhi Bhairavi

Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in pure clean water
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Audio-technica AT440MLb
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24bit/96kHz resolution
Software: AudacityClickRepairand xAct