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Shankar: Swara-Kakali

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: east, west, and in between…

The term “orientalism” has become a pejorative term used to criticize Western artworks that only superficially represent non-Western culture. However, while Western art has for centuries drawn inspiration from outside itself we are often surprised to find that the dialogue goes both ways. In the sixties, Indian sitar-player Ravi Shankar sprang to international prominence, due in part to a fad in the Western counter-culture for anything Indian. Nevertheless, Shankar has extended his own musical language into a number of works that fuse western and Indian styles and instrumentation. The work we just heard was recreated by violinist Daniel Hope and Shankar student Mazumdar on the basis of session notes from a series of recording sessions in the mid-sixties originally featuring Shankar and violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

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