It was uncanny because only last night I had been listening to a work of his Chants of India which was produced by George Harrison, a wonderful soothing collection, like balms for the soul, in these tepid times that we are living in.
He had been ill for several years but still his passing came as unexpected, he seemed timeless like his beautiful music.
He was still performing up to November of this year, playing with his daughter Anoushka. He was I guess one of my first introductions to what is now known as World Music, introducing me to a melting pot of sounds, his mastery of his chosen instrument long inspiring me, eventually getting drawn to music that was even more out their, but that is another story.
He was born Robindra Shankar in 1930, in the city of Varanas, spending his earlier days in poverty. Initially he was a dancer performing with his brothers Indian and classical folk dance troup, but by the 1930s he had become a master of the Sitar, along with other classical indian instruments. I first became aware of him through watching old performances of him plaing at the Woodstock and Monterey Pop Festivals and later at the 1972 Concert for Bangladesh. Every time I heard his complicated music, it was like their was some kind of magic in the air.
Over the years I was still drawn to his playing, and I regarded him as an almost visionary figure, who became a legend as his life traversed nearly a century, his music transcending trends and cultural barriers becomming one of Indias most effective ambassadors.
His influence soon spread, maintaining a purity of vision, but was not afraid to collaberate.His the work with Phillip Glass and with Yeudi Menuhin, in the 1960s and 1970s are now regarded classics, where east truly did meet west.
And now he has gone, aged 92, but his sounds still rythmically breathing so to speak, beyond the melancholy of this world, still stirring hearts, lingering in moments of peace, and satori's twinkling stars.
R.I.P Ravi Shankar.
Dub Syndicate - Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar at Monterey 1967
Ravi Shankar & Phillip Glass - Ragas in a Minor Scale
Yeudi Menhuin & Ravi Shankar - Jungalbandi