Often, when discussing my passion for Indian Classical music – attempting to offer entry into its remarkable traditions for others, I raise instrumentation. Particularly in my early explorations, this was a crucial vehicle for discovery.
By far the most well know instrument in the Indian Classical traditions, thanks in large part to the popularity and fame of Ravi Shankar, is the sitar, but, for this very reason – its presence in pop culture, it was an instrument which I almost exclusively avoided during my first years plumbing the depths. It was my quest for, and response to, other sounds, which illumined the path.
The two primary traditions of Indian Classical music – the Carnatic and the Hindustani, are among the oldest living traditions on the planet. Many of the ragas played today, date back thousands of years. While often difficult to discern – so much time and evolution having transpired, this music lays at the root of countless distinct cultural traditions fingering across the globe. It is the well from which so much springs, making the examination of its instruments a fascinating web.