As each song on this impressive two-disc album, containing over two hours of music, bears the word “Raga” in its title and as it’s a word that I wasn’t familiar with before listening to this album and doing a bit of reading, I’d like to first give a short excerpt from the definition of the word taken from the glossary included in the cd liner notes:

Raga: “Thousands of Ragas have come into being with new ones still being created. All of them are associated with different times of day and night, seasons, and ceremonial occasions. They all have an individual and principal mood such as tranquility, loneliness, eroticism, heroism, etc., and the performer is encouraged to give his own interpretation.”

Based on this information and the dynamic variations present throughout this extensive collection of music – the relaxing “Raga Sindhu Bhairavi” is almost 20 minutes long and features numerous vocal contributions from chanting backup singers while the six minute “Raga Shudh Sarang” features a jumpy, energetic rhythm reminiscent of a restless insect – it’s clear that it will take much more than a brief glossary and two hours of music for the uninitiated to fully grasp the contributions of the renowned Ravi Shankar not only to Indian music, but to the music world in general.

But even a Shankar novice can appreciate the unique sounds put forward on this album, particularly on the second disc which contains only three songs – each upwards of 20 minutes. The seemingly dissonant notes of “Raga Lalit” offers an arhythmic and unaccompanied exploration of the sitar’s musicality, while the “Raga Khamaj” astounds with elaborate percussives providing additional tonality. Ranging from 1962 to 1988, this collection of music is easy to appreciate and a more than welcome addition to any collection.

Ravi Shankar has been actively involved in the musical world – most notably for his unique style on the sitar – for over 70 years and is still currently touring. For more specifics on Shankar (and for tour dates) visit his homepage. 

Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: A crash course in masterful sitar playing
Stay Away if: You’re satisfied with the music you already know

To purchase Rare and Glorious, visit Amazon

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