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1968_08_10--055_SP [Ravi Shankar]

Rovi Shankar (center), flanked by his accompanists, Alla Rakha (left) and Komala. "Too many young people," Shankar says disapprovingly, "have trained themselves to listen to Indian music while they are smoking pot or taking LSD." not just the speed and excitement, especially the rhythm excitement of the drums. It takes more time to appreciate the atop, the slow beginning, which has no pattern, but which is the highest part of the music and has completely to do with the soul. This I really want, because too many young people, for instance, have trained themselves to listen to Indian music while smoking pot or taking LSD. Many people think, and they have told me so, that I am high when I play. I have a hard time explaining I don't take anything, and it's all the stimulation of the music from inside." Alla Rakha and Kamala unpacked their instruments, joined Shankar on the rug and, after several rounds of raising toasts to one another with their smiles, began to play. The sound of the sitar is the voice of India—high-pitched nasalities, moaning sonorities and subtle wails. Shankar's fingers began to fly across the sitar's 20 metal frets with the speed of a hummingbird and after a while he and Rakha started to exchange nods and smiles. "In America, particularly, it's very disturbing," Shankar said after a pause in the music. "You find in everything where there's dress or music or art such quick changes, so much fad. I have been feeling after 13 years of experience that our music isn't a fad, it has come to stay. Sometime or other there might be a lesser number of people who are followers, but there will always be a solid group." Born in the Holy City of Benares, the son of a family of Brahmans, Shankar started out in the dance company of his older brother, Uday Shankar, and had already toured the world several times when he decided to take sitar instruction from Ustad Allaudin Khan, who is known in India as the Father of Instrumental Music and who now is also Ravi Shankar's father-in-law. Shankar now charges a minimum of $7,000 per performance, and when, only three days before our interview, he had played New York's newest pop-rock temple, the Fillmore East, saffron-robed disciples of the Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta had stood on the sidewalk outside, hawking leaflets on transcendental meditation. Inside the theater, impresario Bill Graham had dressed his ushers in white ludas for the one-night-only occasion. "For me," Shankar said, "it has been like walking on a tightrope. I have had to be so careful in not doing anything to be exploiting the situation. To keep the sanctity of the music has been a very difficult job." It was four o'clock, and Shankar was late for his next appointment. He didn't have time to change his clothes before he rushed out to catch a cab. Since meeting George Harrison at a dinner party two years ago, his record soles had more than doubled. His album, West Meets East, which he recorded with Yehudi Menuhin, had been No. 1 on America's classical charts for 26 weeks. He had formed his own motion-picture production company and had completed filming an autobiographical movie, to be called, unabashedly enough, Messenger Out of the East This summer he will sponsor Festival From India, a troupe of 18 musicians who will go on a 12-city tour, including a stopover at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. "The Beatles helped open up my music with new young people," Shankar said. "But I had o lot of problems to make them understand that this is not rock-and-roll.- 56


1968_08_10--055_SP [Ravi Shankar]
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