August 7, 2020

Ravi Shankar: The Sounds of India [Columbia WL 119] an LP recorded in the US in 1957 and released in the US in 1958

This is Ravi Shankar's second full length LP album, recorded on the heels of 1956's brilliant and required "Music of India" (later retitled "Three Ragas"). 

It was released as part of Columbia Records' series entitled "Adventures in Sound" which was begun in 1958 ostensibly as part of Columbia's celebrations of the 10th anniversary of their introduction of the LP. This series was one of the first to be devoted to world music on a major record label. Capitol Records would eventually produce a similar series entitled "Capitol of the World" featuring several reissues of EMI India titles.

The album was recorded in New York in 1957 and produced by noted producer George Avakian (uncredited). It was released as an LP in 1958. There have been multiple reissues and cover art changes but this is the earliest available edition.

This was originally conceived as an educational as well as entertaining record, and there is a very basic 4-minute talk entitled "An Introduction to Indian Music" which I have edited out of this transfer. There are so many more educational resources available to the average person 62 years after this album was released that it seems pointless to include this very basic introduction. I have also edited out Ravi ji's very brief identification of the ragas and talas before each piece. I am certain these spoken parts are available on YouTube and also on the CD reissue. 

The liner notes are by noted classical composer Alan Hovhaness.

Of interest to me is this review by Yoshi Kato of the album as part of the book "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die":

Ravi Shankar's The Sounds Of India was the ultimate mix compilation for classical Indian music, in that it was accessible, gloriously played, and inherently well informed. At a time when tracking down global musical styles took some effort, Shankar was the perfect musical ambassador, one who was already familiar to legions of listeners as both an elder friend and informal musical teacher to The Beatles (George Harrison once called him "the godfather of world music").

Please note two things: this is part of a journalistic genre I like to think of as, "Record Reviews Written With No Clear Evidence of the Record Having Been Listened To." More importantly, Mr Kato seems to be under the impression that the album was released in 1968 (a mistake that Wikipedia repeats). In fact, in 1958, almost no one in the United States knew who Shankar was, and George Harrison was 15 years old and spending his days in school in Liverpool.

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: AudacityClickRepair, and xAct

August 2, 2020

Vasant Rai and Alla Rakha Play Ragas of Meditation and Happiness [SRV 73013] an LP recorded and released in the US in 1975

Vasant Rai was born in 1942 and at the age of seven began musical studies. At 16 he became one of the last disciples of Allauddin "Baba" Khan, the sarod maestro who taught four legends of Hindustani music: his son Ali Akbar Khan, sitarists Ravi Shankar and Nikhil Banerjee, flautist Pannalal Ghosh, and many others. 

Rai died at the relatively young age of 43, and left only a handful of classical albums which supplement several "fusion" LPs. His collaborations with musicians such as Don CherryCarlos SantanaJohn McLaughlin, and the "world-fusion" band Oregon continue to bring new listeners to his body of recorded work.

Alla Rakha (1919-2000) was one of the towering figures of 20th century music. His collaborations with Ravi Shankar were legendary, but his tabla work was more than just as a partner to Ravi ji. His students included his son, Zakir Hussain.

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: AudacityClickRepair, kid3, and xAct.


highest resolution files I am capable of producing

after decoding to WAV files, these can be burned to CDR

highest quality mp3 files possible 

August 1, 2020

Sandhya Mukherjee: Geetashree [ECSD 2602] an LP recorded and released in India in 1980

For this post we have a delightful LP by Sandhya Mukherjee. Although she is best known for her work in the Mumbai and Bengali film industry, she has recorded several LPS of classical music. 

Born in 1931, she first began studies under A.T. Kanan and subsequently became a disciple of the great Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

Please see the photos for track listing and accompanists.

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: AudacityClickRepair, and xAct.


highest resolution files I am capable of producing

after decoding to WAV files, these can be burned to CDR

highest quality mp3 files possible 

July 28, 2020

Amjad Ali Khan and Abhijit Banerjee live in Ottawa, Canada on July 6, 1990

For this post we are able to experience music which was performed almost exactly 30 years ago in the capital city of Canada, by sarodist Amjad Ali Khan and tabla maestro Abhijit Banerjee in front of an appreciative audience.

Fortunately, the person providing the live sound that night was able to capture this performance onto audio cassette tape and share it with others in 2005 on the file sharing site named "Dimeadozen" which allows only previously unreleased live recordings.

The original information file (very lightly edited for clarity) accompanying the reposting of the show in 2016 is as follows:

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan - sarod
Abhijit Banerjee - tabla
July 6, 1990
Southam Hall, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
soundboard master cassette, unknown taper
2005 transfer and seed by (unknown)

June 2016 reseed by zootype:
volume adjustments and repairs

111:21 minutes

disc 1  59:15 minutes
01 Raga Bihag: Alap 27:03
02 Raga Bihag: Gat 32:10

disc 2  52:06 minutes
03 Raga Piloo: Alap 7:47
04 Raga Kirwani: Gat 22:53
05 Raga Khamaj 21:26 

original uploader's 2005 notes: 


Ustad Amjad Ali Khan comes from a long line of master musicians in India. He plays the fretless lute, the sarod. He is considered to be one of the top sarod players in India, along with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta.

Tabla accompaniment is provided by Abhijit Banerjee, 
a disciple of the great Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh
Jnan Ghosh has trained some of India's top tabla players, 

Amjad was in a good mood that day and in top form. He seemed to have a lot of tuning problems though and I have cut out the fairly extensive tuning segments. 

The Bihag Gat starts and almost immediately there was a tape flip and at the same time they started tuning again so it worked out. I just faded it in as they are tuning and they launch immediately into the gat. This is the complete show.

Technical Notes: 
I worked the sound for this show and this recording is produced from my master cassette recorded off of the (mono) soundboard. 

The level was set a little low so it's a bit hissy in quieter parts but excellent quality and performance. (I prefer lower levels and some hiss to distortion anyway.) 

Fine Print: 
You may distribute in lossless format only. 
You may not sell it under any circumstances 
but may trade (or give it away) freely.

SBD->master cassette->Audiophile 2496->Sound Forge->Flac8-> 2005 seed

volume adjustments [to correct clipping] 
and a few repairs [clicks] made,
no EQ or other processing applied;
new FLAC-8 files and checksum files created and this info file revised;
original info file included.

Thanks again to the taper and original seeder for this recording.

a zootype reseed June 2016
new ffp: 

In respect to the original's taper's wishes, I am not distributing this in lossy formats such as mp3. When such files are then converted to FLAC or WAV, there is a degradation in sound quality which can not be repaired.

This file can be burned to a CD and not lose any sound quality

April 10, 2020

The "Oriental Traditional Music" blog is back in a new home

As many of you know, it's been more than a year since Axel Elbin died. He was a great soul who ran the "Oriental Traditional Music on LP and Cassette" blog. He was also a commercial dealer in Indian Classical LPs and CDs -- quite a few of the posts here are transfers of LPs I purchased from him.

Since the links which he hosted at adrive have now expired, a dedicated group of individuals, led by Gary Pro from Seattle, have come together to host a mirror site. This site will look, act, and feel like the old site, with the exception that there will be no new posts.

Here is the announcement from the group. I was not involved in any way with the effort to do this and all credit goes toward those mentioned here:

Many of you are familiar with the priceless blog library of music and information called, Oriental Traditional Music from LPs & Cassettes.

The creator of that collection, Axel Elbin, aka Tawfiq, left his body last year. His last blog post was in March, 2019.

Axel stored all of the blog's audio files on public file storage sites...adrive, dropbox, and mediafire.

Axel's subscription to adrive has now expired, resulting in all of those audio file links to now fail. I suspect the same thing will happen with dropbox and mediafire.

Louis Farrugia, Daniel Fuchs, and I [Gary Pro] have worked to preserve this important library of incredible music.

A clone of Oriental Traditional Music from LPs & Cassettes, with all of the audio files, can now be found here:

It does not work exactly like the original. The little triangle zip expanders [on the years and months, in the index] do not work, so click the link [name of year, or month] next to it, instead.

This outstanding library must be preserved.

I [Gary Pro] encourage anyone, to use a website copier, such as HTTrack, do download the Whole site, which includes this blog clone. I may be told to take it down, in the future.

So please do visit that site and download what you can. Seek out these precious music files and listen to them and enjoy. 

March 3, 2020

Budhaditya Mukherjee: Soulful Melodies on Sitar Strings [Magnasound C4HI0067] a cassette recorded and released in India in 1989

Up next is a cassette from the ever-variable Magnasound label. Frequently these cassettes have one side which is distorted or otherwise unfortunate -- here we can hear that side A sounds much better than side B, although both are very listenable.

Mukherjee should need no introduction. He is certainly one of the very top sitarists alive today. He hasn't made a point in spending a lot of time seeking fame outside of India, which means that he doesn't have the name recognition he deserves.

YouTube has some great videos of this maestro as well.

Sitar: Budhaditya Mukherjee
Tabla: Vibhav Nageshkar

side A;
Raga Basant Mukhari with two compositions in teentaal

Side B:
Raga Bahar with a composition in teentaal
Raga Desh with a composition in ektaal

Transfer: Nakamichi ZX-9 cassette deck, extensively refurbished and rebuilt to "better than new" state by Willi Hermann
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24bit/96kHz resolution
Software: Audacity and xAct.
Monitoring: Focal Spirit One headphones


24bit, 96kHz FLAC files (1.2 GB)
highest resolution files I am capable of producing. These can be listened to on a computer using software.

after decoding to WAV files, these can be burned to CDR, or listened to with software such as Foobar2000 or Vox.

320 kbps mp3 files (129 MB)
highest quality mp3 files possible. Use responsibly. 

January 9, 2020

Alla Rakha: Tabla! [WPS-21458] an LP recorded and released in the US in 1969

Alla Rakha (29 April 1919 – 3 February 2000) should be familiar to most readers of this blog.

The article about Alla Rakha from the Enclycopedia Brittainica, written by Virginia Gorlinski, is as follows:

"Alla Rakha, Alla also spelled Allah, originally Allarakha Qureshi Khansaheb, also known as A.R. Qureshi, byname Abbaji, (born April 29, 1919, Phagwal, Jammu, India—died February 3, 2000, Mumbai), Indian tabla player, widely acknowledged in his day as one of the finest in India. As a regular accompanist of Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar in the 1960s and ’70s, he was largely responsible for developing interest in the tabla among non-Indian audiences. He traced his lineage to the Punjab gharana (community of musicians sharing a distinctive musical style).

"Despite opposition from his family, Alla Rakha left home at age 12 to learn tabla under the great master (ustad) Mian Qadir Baksh. He also trained under Ashik Ali Khan, a vocalist admired especially for his mastery of the khayal Hindustani song repertoire. Alla Rakha joined All India Radio at Lahore as a staff artist in 1936, and in 1938 he was transferred to Bombay (now Mumbai) as a senior percussionist. Initially he had a difficult time proving himself, but soon his command of the tabla—displayed through outstanding technique and tone production—impressed both the connoisseur and the layperson alike. In 1943 Alla Rakha left All India Radio to work in film music. Using his family name, A.R. Qureshi, he composed sound tracks and served as musical director for numerous movies.

"By 1958 he had become disenchanted with the film industry and left that arena to focus on classical music. Also that year he toured internationally with Shankar, and the two artists subsequently developed a musical partnership that lasted nearly three decades. Especially as Shankar’s counterpart, Alla Rakha played a key role in raising worldwide awareness of the tabla and of Indian classical music as a whole. In addition to Shankar, Alla Rakha teamed with other virtuosic musicians, such as sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, to perform playfully competitive duets known as jugalbandis.

"Aside from his work with Indian classical musicians, Alla Rakha notably collaborated with American jazz drummer Buddy Rich to create the album Rich à la Rakha (1968), a pioneering experiment in the type of cross-cultural musical fusion that became increasingly popular later in the 20th century."

side one:
Tala Dadra (9:45)
Tala Sulfakta (10:19)

side two:
Tala Pancham Sawari (19:42)

Tabla: Alla Rakha 
Sitar: Shamin Ahmed
Pakhawaj:  Taranath Ramroa
Liner notes: Lakshmi Shankar
Producer: Richard Bock

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: AudacityClickRepair, and xAct.


highest resolution files I am capable of producing

after decoding to WAV files, these can be burned to CDR

highest quality mp3 files possible 

A good explanation of what FLAC files are and why you should be listening to them if you can.

Please note — my scanner has been not working well with my new laptop. I can only scan once each time before I have to quit and restart. Each time I scan a cover I need to do it 4 times and then merge the photos using Photoshop (Windows uses can use a different application). The back cover and label scans will be forthcoming soon! Thank you for your patience!