Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Remembering sitar legend Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar, the world’s best-known sitar guru, will never play again. At 92,he is gone.

In 1966, Beatle George Harrison traveled to Bombay, India, to seek lessons from Shankar, thereby catapulting the Indian musician to great fame in the West. In those days, Shankar enjoyed the status of the sitar raga king. He played an exotic long-necked instrument with seven strings echoed by 11 sympathetic strings under the elevated frets. He made a big impact at some of the famous rock festivals of the 1960s like Woodstock and the Monterey Pop festival.

Shankar came to Taipei years ago (see picture above), bringing with him his daughter Anoushka. The half-sister of singer Norah Jones paled in comparison to her legendary father at the Indian music concert. Nevertheless the adolescent performer attracted a lot of attention as her father’s very young protégé. Shankar encouraged his daughter to explore and find her own way in interpreting music on the sitar.

George Harrison remained Ravi Shankar’s best-known pupil. In fact, years after his news-making encounter with the sitar master, the British guitarist and songwriter produced Shankar’s four-CD retrospective album. He later also did the introduction for a book of memoirs by the artist who dedicated his lifetime to the promotion of Indian music around the world.

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