Rahul Deshpande’s Audio Blog

•June 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

About a year ago, I discovered that renowned classical vocalist Rahul Deshpande has been publishing an audio blog on Soundcloud. Rahul Deshpande is the grandson of Vasantrao Deshpande (who we have discussed on this blog before). He is very active in the theatre scene, where he has recently revived old musicals (or Sangeet Natak as they are called in Marathi) with new actors. One of these musicals, Katyar Kaljat Ghusli, was recently made into a movie, where he provided the voice for the character of Khansaheb. He also organises the very popular Vasantostsav festival annually, in the memory of his grandfather.

In his audio blog, he covers a range of musical styles including bhajans, bandishes, ghazals and even popular music. This includes him singing parts of,  or entire pieces and then going on to explain the various nuances not just pertaining to the music, but also the lyrics. This is accompanied by anecdotes and his own path to becoming a successful musician.

So do check it out!

Albert Marsicano

•December 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Right then. So several months ago, I promised four recommendations. Clearly that has not happened, and for once, boredom is not the reason. Anyway, here’s the third of those four recommendations.

Albert Marsicano is this Brazilian guy who learnt his art from the very best – Pandit Ravi Shankar – and yes you guessed right, he is a sitar player. His website also tells me he is quite the academic types and has published several books on poetry right from Basho to Keats, not to mention several papers and articles on music

I discovered this guy by accident when I was looking for a particular Hendrix video on youtube. One of the related links was a rendition of Purple haze on the sitar. I quite liked it and searched for more. I found more great stuff by this guy.

Here are a few videos. Enjoy

Purple Haze:


And my favourite of the lot – Iron Man.



The Manganiyar Seduction

•January 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Here is the second of the promised four recommendations from my side.

Roysten Abel is an awesome guy. Brought up in Ooty and an alumnus of NSD, he is instrumental in coming up with one of the best musical innovations I have seen in the Manganiyar Seduction. After his stint at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, he started putting up his own shows. He created acts featuring street musicians who were out of work and toured Europe. After this success he also made a few more plays including one on the life of Anne Frank.

The Manganiyar Seduction however is by far his most interesting work.

The Manganiyars are a muslim community from Rajasthan and consider themselves descendents of Rajputs. They are famous for their typical folk music which makes heavy usage of bow instruments (including a particularly interesting instrument called the ‘kamayacha’ which has a large sound box and thus gives a great resonating sound) and vocals. They mostly sing songs about maharajas and, if wikipedia is to be believed, even about Alexander the great.

But, you must be wondering, where does the seduction come in? The ‘Seduction’ comes in form of the visual presentation of the show. A hundred odd musicians sit in cubicles (very similar to those in Hollywood Squares, just a lot cooler) which are lit up in bulbs and have a red theme – supposedly a direct reference to the Red Light district of Amsterdam.

In addition to this, you have dancers on the stage (as can be seen in the pic). There is not much more I can really say to describe this, but implore you to watch the video and see the magic for yourselves.


Oh, by the way, you can see Roysten Abel’s website for more info about The Manganiyar Seduction as well as his other stuff, which I am sure will be awesome as well.


Krishna Das

•December 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a long time since something was posted on this blog. To tell you the truth it was mostly procrastination. Now I’ve finally got around it and have 4 new recommendations which I will post over the next week or so. Here is the first one.

I’ve been a doing a lot of random Youtubeing and random reading lately. On one such random walk, I chanced upon a very unique artist. He went by the name of Krishna Das and had recently released an album called “Heart as wide as the world”. I looked him up on youtube and found him to be quite fascinating.

He was born Jeffrey Kagel and was a regular follower of the 60’s rock scene. Somewhere down the line he met a chap going by the name of Ram Das who had just come back from India and could not stop gushing about his guru – Neem Karoli Baba aka Maharaj-ji. Jeffrey too went to India and found Maharaj-ji and stayed with him for a good three years. He learnt devotional music and studied Bhakti Yoga. And then Jeffrey Kagel  returned to the States but as Krishna Das.

What makes his music extremely different is that he mixes the normal Western rock and roll tunes, and the normal blues chorals with kirtans, yes you read right – kirtans!

Krishna Das does not have a great voice, but he does bring a lot of feeling into his singing, much like Bob Dylan(who also does not have a great singing voice) and that really makes all the difference.

The mixture of kirtans and blues is very interesting to say the least. It is actually quite commendable that he has been able to mix styles as disparate as these to come up with a very new sound which, quite frankly, does not fit into the generic genre of ‘New age music’ that critics have dumped him into. His genre ‘kirtan roll’ ( as he calls it) is something that deserves a bit more recognition.

He uses both Indian and western instruments – Harmonium, table, violin, guitar etc. The use of the guitar on kirtans and the use of the tabla and harmonium on blues is yet another unique aspect of the music.

Do check out this guy. Whether or not you like listening to kirtans mixed with blues, if you listen to him in a purely musical sense, you will find that he does have rhythm and soul, and strictly musically speaking,his work  is very good to say the least.

Here is my favourite song by Krishna Das called Narayana/For your love which combines the kirtan “Narayana Narayana Narayana
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudeva” with the Yardbirds classic “For your Love”. Enjoy:

Recommendations from across the border

•October 31, 2010 • 9 Comments

This post is essentially about a Pakistani Television show called Coke Studio. It is possible that many of our readers have already seen and heard stuff from Coke Studio. Coke Studio is a show that premiered in 2008 and is already into its third season. It features prominent artists from Pakistan who try to fuse their individual styles and genres to create a “hatke” soundscape. IMHO, they do a great job. Here are some songs you should listen to:

  1. Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi – Alif Allah
  2. Zeb and Haniya – Nazaar Eyle, Paimona, Bibi Sanam
  3. Abida Parveen – Nigah-e-Darwaishan, Ramooz-e-Ishq
  4. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Azmat – Garaj Baras
  5. Shafqat Amanat Ali – Khamaj, Kuch Ajab Khail
  6. Aunty Disco Project – Sultanat
  7. Noori – Hor Vi Neevan, Tann Dolay
  8. Sanam Marvi – Pritam
  9. Tina Sani – Mori Araj Suno

Any more “likes” from your end are most welcome!

(Hat tip to Sangeetha Ramaswamy for introducing the blogger to Coke Studio)

Vasantrao Deshpande

•August 1, 2010 • 5 Comments

After a pretty long lull, during which our dear readers have hopefully been able to digest all the previous preaching, here is another recommendation.

Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande belonged to the so-called golden era of Marathi music. He took tutelage from different schools of music which lent strong musical foundations. He had a firm grasp not just over Marathi and Hindi, but also Urdu. Apart from being a vocalist, he was also proficient at playing the Tabla.

He was a highly skilled Hindustani classical vocalist, but his fame came mostly through Natyasangeet (literally, musical theater). His performance as “Khansaheb” in the play “Katyar Kaljat Ghusli” was probably his most popular stage appearance. This, and his fluency in Urdu led to his being titled Pandit Vasantkhan Deshpande. He also sang for Marathi films. Other than music, he was also an academic and he earned a PhD for his study of Hindustani Classical Music.

His vocal style was very different from that of his peers. He was greatly influenced by Master Dinanath Mangeshkar. A powerful voice coupled with immense control over his voice gave greater colour and depth to his singing.

A multi-faceted singer, a must hear.

Recommended recordings:

1) Numerous renditions of numerous ragas (especially some classic versions of Marwa and Maru Bihag)

2) Surat Piya Ki

3) Tejonidhi loh gol

4) Ya bhavanatil geet purane

5) Mruganayana Rasika Mohini

6) Kanada Raja Pandharicha

7) Shatajanma Shodhitana

Of course, I cannot include all over here. In case you would like to recommend a track you like, the comments section is always open.

The music of Cowboy Bebop

•July 8, 2010 • 1 Comment

The music of Cowboy Bebop

This post is a guest post. Which is our way of saying a reader has sent in this article. (Hint: send in your articles! They’re always welcome). The author here is Mohit Karve.

Let me start off by saying that my knowledge of musical styles is limited. I cannot say with authority that a particular song is one genre or another. However, I do think I can distinguish between music that is brilliant and music that is not. It is with only that yardstick that I present to you Cowboy Bebop.

Cowboy Bebop is an anime from the late 1990s. And a fantastic one at that. Cowboy Bebop is set in the 2070s, where space travel is commonplace, following the fortunes of four bounty hunters aboard a spaceship of the same name. You can accuse it of lacking a coherent story. In fact, rather than a very loose thread holding the series together, the episodes are mostly stand-alone, and generally end on a tragic note. Yet, what the series does get right is the feel. I cannot describe it properly. The series makes you feel for the characters. The series establishes a brilliant relationship between the viewer and the characters. But I digress. This post is for the music of Cowboy Bebop, and not the series.

The music then. CB draws heavily on American music of the 60s and the 70s. Most of the episode titles make references to musical styles or specific songs. The episodes themselves are called sessions. Music is intertwined into the very essence of CB. The music explores a rich palette of music- beat, arabic, lounge, swing, heavy metal and a lot more. However, most of it falls into jazz, rock and blues. The people behind the music are a Japanese band called the Seatbelts, and prominently the composer for the band, Yoko Kanno. What you are treated with is a mix of music- slow and fast, to suit every mood.

There’s the excellent starting credits music – “Tank!” It’s an instrumental piece, and features a long solo on a saxophone. It’s a fast paced and vibrant track, and the first thing that you’ll hear if you start to watch CB. Then there’s “Space Lion”, a laid back, slow track. It has a wonderful mix of the sax and tribal chants. It fits in perfectly at the end of Jupiter Jazz, in partial mourning of the death of a character. And talking of death- the series has no aversion to violence and blood. You’ll see a lot of both in most episodes, if not all. “Tank” and “Space Lion” are excellent indicators of the contrasting music that the Seatbelts have played for the CB soundtrack.

The end credits song, “The Real Folk Blues” is an out and out rock song, sung in Japanese, and is another of the memorable songs on the sound track. There’s “Call me, call me”, a soft rock song (in English), that comes in at the end of the soul shattering session 24 – “Hard Luck Woman”. If you’re a fan of the mouth organ, there are two tracks that you’ll love- “Spokey Dorkey” and “Don’t Bother None”. “Don’t Bother None” features a mouth organ/ piano solo that literally drowns you in a flood of sublime music.

Mention must also be made of “ELM”, a single musician song- there’s just a guitar and a vocalist, who’s singing nothing in particular. There’s also a lot music that falls in the category of “Random Japanese Stuff”, which is still great to listen to. I could go on and on about various individual songs, but this post grows too long. The entire soundtrack is a very good listen, but it’s probably better to invest a few hours watching the whole series. You will certainly not regret it. The music takes what is already an iconic series to soaring heights. Whatever sort of music you like, the sheer diversity of CB’s music will definitely have something for you.


I’ll post Youtube links, since these songs may not be easy to find.

Tank! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-TAxm00jOg

The Real Folk Blues – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BQs9onayvU

Space Lion – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKnVaDwUg5s

Don’t Bother None – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJaf1k_EdNg

ELM – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR4TDBXebWc

Green Bird – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9POYDoHXUX0

Gotta Knock a Little Harder – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdE1JCEKtg4

Happy listening, and I hope you watch this (almost) legendary anime at some point in the future!