BARRY PHILLIPS, LINDA BURMAN-HALL, LUX MUSICA ENSEMBLE | RAGA & RAJ
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Celebrating Ravi Shankar's life and musical legacy of East-meets-West cultural exchange, Barry Phillips, Linda Burman-Hall and Lux Musica Ensemble (with guest Debopriyo Sarkar) present a selection of daring, experimental compositions that reflect and re-imagine the musical encounters between North India and British traditions encountered during the late 1780s. Featuring compositions by Lou Harrison, William Hamilton Bird, and Vishnu Digambar Paluskar arranged by Phillips and Burman-Hall, and an original composition by Phillips, the music of Raga & Raj is built on the affinities and attractions between North Indian and British musical traditions as they encountered each other in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Raga & Raj reinterprets the music of that intriguing historical moment, illuminating for us the triumphs and challenges of this type of cross-cultural exchange and reminding us of Ravi Shankar’s musical mission and life’s work: Peace through Music.
For more on Linda Burman-Hall: See her websiteTRACK LISTING:
Eight Ragas (2010)
composed by Barry Phillips
Hindoostanee Airs (1789)
collected and edited by William Hamilton Bird, arr. by Barry Phillips
Jahla Journey (various, 1953 - 1989)
composed by Lou Harrison, arr. by Linda Burman-Hall & Barry Phillips
Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram (music composed before 1931)
composed by Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, arr. by Barry Phillips
Lux Musica Ensemble with
Barry Phillips: Indian cello, composer, co-director
Linda Burman-Hall: harpsichord, fortepiano, percussion, co-director
Lars Johannesson: flutes
David Wilson: violin
Amy Brodo: cello and viola da gamba
Debopriyo Sarkar: tabla
Shelley Phillips: tanpura
Executive Producers: Shyama Priya, Cat Celebrezze
Music Producer: Barry Phillips, Shyama Priya
Recording Engineers: William Coulter, Barry Phillips
Edit, Mix & Mastering Engineer: Barry Phillips
Photo Credits: Nathan Phillips, Shmuel Thaler
Design: Wickstrom Design
Eight Ragas, Hindoostanee Airs and Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram published by Koustic Music (BMI). Lou Harrison "Jahla's" published by Lou Harrison Estate. Thanks to Charles Hanson for permissions regarding all Lou Harrison music. Special thanks to performance sponsors Talat & Kamil Hasan, Thomas Kailath, Anuradha Luther Maitra, Kiran & Arjun Malhotra.
Recorded at University of California at Santa Cruz Recital Hall, March 2010
This recording is performed in a tuning devised by Linda Burman-Hall to achieve intervals that are mostly pure against the tonic pitch, yet still allows for harmonic exploration when performed with great care.
Raga & Raj was made possible by a grant from The Creative Work Fund: Supporting New Work by Bay Area Artists and by a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation.
Introductory Note by Sukanya Shankar
Raviji and I have known Barry since 1996. We met him in Madras during the recording of Chants of India. I remember him coming for lunch and playing some music for Raviji - a classical piece and also an Irish jig, which Raviji liked very much - and I think Raviji started to teach him that very day! Over the years, Barry has become very close to us, helping with recording, tape transfer projects and also assisting Raviji on various projects. We love his sweet nature and silly sense of humour!!!! I am so happy EMWMusic is able to release his offering to his Guruji.
Note by Cat CelebrezzeRaga & Raj is an experimental project built on the affinities and attractions between North Indian and British musical traditions as they encountered each other in the late 1700s and early 1800s. During that period, a mutual fascination and appreciation flourished between the colonial European administrators of North India’s fertile plantations who brought instruments and music fashions of the West and the local Hindustani nobility with their highly trained musical retainers.
Though very different creative languages - Indian music communicates emotion through pitch nuance and elaborate metric foundations, whereas European music relies on simpler meters and melodies in order to convey emotion through harmonic progressions - these two traditions have diversified each other significantly ever since the British Raj, with results that are as complicated as they are beautiful. Raga & Raj reinterprets the music of that intriguing historical moment and illuminates for us the triumphs and challenges of this type of cultural cross-fertilization.
The tonalities of Western instruments such as harpsichords and cellos are set to Indian rhythmic systems (as with Eight Ragas), and Indian rhythmic patterns combine with European dance music melodies to form new hybrids (such as in Lou Harrison's Jahla Journey). Other times, Western sensibility takes over in a brute sense, despite the sweetness of the music (Hindoostanee Airs). And despite all complications, true meeting of both forms has the spirituality of the Raga form shining through and expanding western orchestrations, accentuating classical formal movements with tabla timbres, exemplified by Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram.
Whether the conversation started during the British Raj in India during the "Hindoostanee Airs" moment is considered a success or not, it certainly can be seen as illuminating the great musical encounters between East and West which Ravi Shankar ushered in with his virtuosity and appetite for new musical conversations in the late 20th century. Though the parallel can only be taken so far - harpsichords were never part of All-India Radio's Orchestra under the leadership of Ravi Shankar - it does speak to the curiosity with which Ravi Shankar experimented with Western orchestrations (see EMWMusic's Orchestral Experimentations or any of the Satjayit Ray film soundtracks) and the intensity with which he dedicated himself to bringing the Indian Classical in all its vibrant traditional form to the West. And the music of the "Hindoostanee Airs" moment, as performed on Raga & Raj, is nothing short of intriguing, opening up vistas of musical experimentation, in ways only a meeting of musical cultures can. The westernizing impulses of the music of the "Hindoostanee" moment, however, also foreshadow the challenges Ravi Shankar faced from within own cultural zeitgeist. The altering of Indian classical structures always risks taking ragas out of their spiritual context - the problem of which Ravi Shankar was well aware. Regardless, Ravi Shankar always remained fervent about the power music has to transcend national borders and cultural differences to foster peace. The music on Raga & Raj does not shy away from that challenge, but instead explores how the "Hindoostanee Airs" moment can be reinterpreted and reimagined.
Listening to Raga & Raj is a glimpse into the potential of musical exchange and one can imagine Ravi smiling and being very interested in how such a complex musical meeting will work itself out.
Notes from the Artists
Eight Ragas (2010) - composed by Barry Phillips
Eight Ragas is dedicated to Ravi Shankar, in thanks for all he has given me and all he has given the world. Eight Ragas is an exploration in combining Indian and western baroque music from a distinctly modern Californian point of view. Sparked by my interest in the historical east-west exchanges in 18th century Calcutta and the sheer virtuosity I witnessed in Ravi Shankar as a composer. Each movement of Eight Ragas is a new exploration in itself since ragas, with different sets of notes and melodic tendencies, yield different western harmonies, making each piece into a unique hybrid musical expression from the west looking east.
Dreaming and Quiet Hour are inspired by the beautiful and mysterious ragas Lalit and Puriya respectively - reflecting the time zones between dark to light and light to dark. These two are in an "alap" style without rhythm and with limited harmonic treatment. Awakening, inspired by raga Bhairav, becomes a minor mode with baroque bass lines below and written improvisations above. In Brindaban Forest, inspired by raga Brindabani Sarang, brings to mind the childhood forest home of Krishna. Homage uses a wonderful melody by Ravi Shankar in Raga Kafi, which allows for strong western harmonies. Many thanks to Ravi Shankar for allowing me to use his beautiful Kafi melody. Alap and Ground, inspired by raga Madhuvanti, starts with harpsichord solo in imitation of classical Indian style but migrates into a European baroque 'ground' with its repeating chord pattern below and improvisations above. Conversation, inspired by raga Handsadvani, has a fun exchange of phrases between the instruments, known as "sawal-jawab" (question & answer), followed by a beautiful short tabla solo by Mr. Sarkar. Finale, inspired by raga Jog, brought me home in a way, as Jog was my introduction to Indian music as a teenager via the Ravi Shankar LP "Three Ragas". I'm often reminded of the 60's with Jog - not only was "Three Ragas" a big hit then, but also the notes of Jog blend so well into the pop music of the time.
Eight Ragas was begun in Delhi, February 2009 at the Ravi Shankar Centre, and finished at home in Santa Cruz California, December 2009. The work is inspired by Ravi Shankar's composing for the All India Radio Orchestra (Vadya Vrind) in the 1950s as well as by his works that I notated for western instruments as he composed them. Among those works were "Palas Kafi" for Mstislav Rostropovich, "Vachaspati" for Anoushka Shankar and Joshua Bell, and "Arpan" for the "Concert for George". Notating these pieces for him opened up a window into the vast world of Indian music for me for which I am forever grateful. - Barry Phillips
Hindoostanee Airs (1789) - collected and edited by William Hamilton Bird, arr. by Barry Phillips
Ravi Shankar would have had a great interest in the historical meetings between the British and Indian musicians in Northern India in the 1700's. The British musicians studied and transcribed Indian music with great enthusiasm and genuine care. Regardless of how the transcriptions tend to turn into something akin to English country dances - still they tried! . . . and were genuinely deeply interested. We honor these historical musical experiences with four selections arranged from the collections of William Hamilton Bird.
In the late 1780s, the Anglo-Indian music culture of the British Raj began to cultivate specific knowledge of the Indian popular light classical styles when prominent colonial families formed an orchestra called ‘The Calcutta Band’. Along with encouraging performances of scores by Corelli, Geminiani, Handel, Arne, Bach, and Haydn, a group of influential English women began to hire renowned Kashmiri, Persian, and Bengali entertainers and then transcribed their love-songs for performance on western instruments. It is from these experiments combining local Indian musicalities with the tonalities of imported European instruments, such as harpsichord and fortepiano, that the popular genre known as "Hindoostanee Air" was born.
Within this context, British scholars attempted descriptions of the established North Indian music systems they had found, comparing them to familiar harpsichord tunings. At the same time, westernized maharajas started using complete orchestras, and sent their musicians to London for advanced training. Further evidence of the influence of the genre can be found in melodic writings of the famed English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and even the poet Lord Byron wrote heart-broken stanzas to ‘a Hindoo Air'.
William Hamilton Bird’s 1789 collection of Hindoostanee Airs transcribed for harpsichord illustrates this East-West hybrid arrangement at its height. The affinity for the grand-scale narrative between the two cultures is seen in the Rekhtah, or ghazal melody for a love-song sung by a woman. "Mutru be khoosh nuwa bego" is the most famous of all the ‘Hindoostanee Airs’ - popular among all the nautch (dance) girls and the signature song of famed court performer, Chanam. Despite Bird's avowed intent to let the simplicity of the Indian melody speak for itself, however, a great deal of adaptation to European classical norms occurred, resulting in arrangements seem thoroughly English, as evidenced in the Tuppahs, where the ornamentation is profuse, and the romantic question ‘What has my heart done?" (Kia kam keea dil ne) is eternally posed.
The Hindoostanee Air cultural hybridization did not last however. Though by the end of the eighteenth century Indian and western instruments sometimes attempted to play together in private concert — an intriguing experiment whose result was not recorded — a true acculturation (such as what occurred in the Spanish colonies) never took place in India. And by the late twentieth century when the 'fusion' experiments in popular music flourished, precipitated by the Beatles interest Eastern philosophies and the arrival of great Hindustani musicians such as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan on the American scene, the early musical instruments were no longer available. This rendition of Hindoostanee Airs seeks to re-imagine this encounter with a contemporary perspective informed by the East-West collaborations which grew out of these late twentieth-century encounters. - Linda Burman-Hall & Barry Phillips
Jahla Journey (various, 1953 - 1989) - composed by Lou Harrison, arr. by Linda Burman-Hall & Barry Phillips
It was intriguing when, in 1997 during a cello lesson, Barry Phillips mentioned Lou Harrison to Ravi Shankar and he responded with great enthusiasm, saying he knew Harrison from Los Angeles and the "the whole group I know, Lou Harrison [and others]…were the pioneers in the American group." (Ravi Shankar - Nov. 16, 1997).
Lou Harrison was one of the most active pioneers in combining Eastern and Western musical approaches, tunings, and instruments, who lived in Aptos, California until his death in 2003. As a contemporary of Ravi Shankar, Lou's work exhibits the vast permutations and that one can create musically when stepping out strict genre classifications - a sensibility truly on the rise when Ravi Shankar was first heard in the west. Although Lou's work is not strictly classical in the sense that Ravi Shankar's is, Lou frequently specified that his modal works be played with the pure intervals of Just Intonation, as traditional to Chinese, Indian and European pre-Baroque music.
Jahla Journey is a recent compilation of arrangements of various movements across Harrison’s long career that reference Indian style. Lou explains that in the traditional North Indian jhala (spelled 'jahla' by Harrison) “the tone or tones of the drone are rhythmically reiterated between all tones of the melody in ‘perpetuum mobile’ style”.
Jahlas I, II, & III are from "Suite for Violin with American Gamelan" (1973-74), Lou’s collaborative composition with Richard Dee, originally pairing a modern violin with Bill Colvig’s home-made gamelan instruments tuned in Just Intonation.
Jahla Duet, arranged for interlocked pizzicato low strings, is from Pedal Sonata for Organ (1989), thus originally for solo organ pedalboard.
The Jahla in the Form of a Ductia ‘to pleasure Leopold Stokowski on his ninetieth birthday’ (1972), which overlays an unmetered pulsing melody with a curious 23-beat percussion cycle, was originally for harp in Ionian mode with a c-flat tonic (here transposed to D). The Medieval form ductia repeats each phrase of melody with a first and second ending.
The Serenade, which may be played on harp, harpsichord or guitar, was originally scored as part of a private letter to Frank Wigglesworth (1952). - Linda Burman-Hall & Barry Phillips
Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram (music composed before 1931) - composed by Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, arr. by Barry Phillips
Wanting to end the recording with a Bhajan (devotional song), I chose Raghupati. I originally learned it in Santa Cruz in the late 1980's and then in 2008 Ravi Shankar taught a group of us at the Shankar Centre in Delhi how to sing this beautiful melody. I tried to fully blend the East to the West with a strongly baroque influenced harmonization below and harmonies around the melody. This Bhajan, a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi, is also heard on Ravi Shankar's soundtrack to the film "Gandhi". - Barry Phillips
BARRY PHILLIPS holds a Masters of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory and since 1996 has been a student and compositional assistant to Ravi Shankar. In addition to his performing on cello for classical, folk and Indian classical music ensembles and as a soloist with the Socttish National Orchestra at the Royal Hall, Glasgow, Barry also has performed on tanpura and toured with both Ravi and Anoushka Shankar. As compositional assistant to Ravi Shankar, Barry provided western and Indian notation for projects included music for Mstislav Rostropovich, Joshua Bell and the Concert for George. Barry also won a Grammy as music producer on East Meets West Music's Grammy-winning release, The Living Room Sessions, Pt. 1, which features music from Ravi Shankar's last studio sessions.
LINDA BURMAN-HALL is a cultural musicologist, performer, and director of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival and its resident ensemble Lux Musica. During her undergraduate years at UCLA in the mid 1960s, Linda was privileged to attend Ravi Shankar's historic UCLA seminars and be present at his first class in North Indian music. These seminal lectures and performances by the Maestro introduced her to the joys of Hindustani singing and rhythms, sensitized her to the feeling and tuning of several well-known ragas, and strongly influenced her turn toward ethnomusicology. She is Professor of Music at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
LUX MUSICA is the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival's core ensemble of virtuosi dedicated to presenting daring and beautiful works from the Enlightenment, drawing on a versatile combination of historical flutes, violin or viola, violoncello or viola da gamba, and historic keyboards with percussion. With a repertoire that explores both European and all "world music", as well as folk and classical styles, Lux Musica embodies the East-West cultural exchange and peace through music that is the legacy of Ravi Shankar.