Reuters blog archive

from India Insight:

Ravi Shankar and the West’s search for the lost chord

There is a moment in the beginning of the Concert for Bangla Desh live album when sitar master Ravi Shankar and his fellow musicians play some notes on their Indian instruments. When they stop, the audience at Madison Square Garden applauds and cheers. "Thank you," Shankar said. "If you appreciate the tuning so much, I hope you will enjoy the playing more."

He and his band members then begin playing the piece called "Bangla Dhun." At the end, the crowd cheers just as lustily as they did for the warmup.

That was 1971. Forty-one years later, and a day after Shankar's death at the age of 92, I'm not sure that most of the western world is any more hip to the difference between tune-up and performance in Indian music than the people who filed into Madison Square Garden that August to hear the show. I wasn't when I heard the album in the 1980s, and I am not now. (If that's a tune-up, I'll listen to tune-ups for hours)

People are remembering Shankar today as a maestro of Indian music, and as the man who tried to build a bridge between western and eastern styles of music, both performance and theory. He was a crossover success, in large part because the Beatles and George Harrison in particular fell for his sound at the height of their own popularity. At least dear George stuck with it after the pop music industry wrung all that it could from adding sitars and sarods to rock and roll, and the psychedelic revolution spent itself silly on sex and drugs.

from India Insight:

Ravi Shankar, a song more felt than heard

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

As the world pays tribute to sitar master Ravi Shankar, who died on Tuesday at the age of 92, it's worth reflecting on his greatest contribution to the world: his attempt to bridge the gap between "eastern" and "western" music with the likes of the Beatles and violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – From Russia With(out) Love

Not a great day for US-Russia relations. The United States won the extradition of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout from Thailand against Moscow’s vehement objections. The Russian government said the extradition of the man known as the “Merchant of Death” was not only illegal but also the result of “unprecedented political pressure from the United States.” Earlier this month we had news that a key Russian spymaster and double agent had defected to the United States after unmasking the spy ring here. And then to top it all off, Republicans signaled they would block ratification of the START Treaty this year.  It looks like more of a meltdown than a reset in US-Russia relations.

THAILAND-BOUT/Not that START is dead yet, with Joe Biden leading the charge today to twist arms in the Senate and Hillary Clinton due on the Hill tomorrow. But if anyone was hoping President Barack Obama would rescue the second half of his presidency by focusing on foreign policy, it has hardly been an auspicious couple of weeks, after the debacle of the G20 meeting, the failure to strike a trade deal with South Korea and now this.  Still, here’s hoping the president can strike peace in the Middle East or negotiate a successful exit from Afghanistan.

from Fan Fare:

Alan Parsons’ third act: instructional filmmaker

Alan Parsons is perhaps best known for his work with the easy-listening progressive rock group that bears his name. Between 1976 and 1990, the Alan Parsons Project enjoyed eight top-40 singles in the United States, including the No. 3 smash "Eye in the Sky." But before he became a rock star, Parsons was a knob-twiddler at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London. He was an assistant engineer on the Beatles' final albums "Let it Be" and "Abbey Road," and one of the brains behind the 1973 Pink Floyd opus "The Dark Side of the Moon," one of the biggest-selling albums of all time.
alan2Now resident in Santa Barbara, 95 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Parsons is trying his hand at instructional filmmaking. He has just released a three-disc DVD package that aims to lift "this mysterious veil of secrecy" that surrounds the recording experience, he said Wednesday.

"Art & Science of Sound Recording," which was two years in the making and is narrated by Billy Bob Thornton, is aimed at both music industry professionals and casual observers. It covers such topics as studio acoustics, the use of microphones and consoles, and recording techniques for vocals and various instruments. There's also a useful section called "Dealing with Disasters." 

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Imagine there’s no toilet, it’s easy if you try…

Blog Guy, the last sign of the approaching Apocalypse you told us about was singer Justin Bieber publishing his memoirs, but I believe there was another one this week that you overlooked.

BRITAIN-LENNON/Those of us sitting out here waiting for the End of the World count on your blog for timely telltale signs.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Goofy new attraction for Doughnut Day


Blog Guy, did I read someplace that your Goofy Face Museum and Doughnut Shop is turning into a wax museum as well?

Well, not exactly, but in the tourist entertainment business it's a fact of life that you have to have a couple of wax figures, just to pull the hayseeds in off the streets.

from Fan Fare:

The kids are all right as Beatles’ White Album gets a fresh coat

The good thing about cuts to music education in schools is that wannabe rock stars flock to savvy entrepreneurs like Paul Green -- the Philadelphia musician who inspired the Jack Black movie "School of Rock." 

stan2Green -- himself the subject of the 2005 documentary "Rock School" -- has set up a nationwide School of Rock chain that helps kids unleash their inner Ozzys, Jimis and Janises. It's certainly more fun than learning "Home on the Range" and "Kumbaya" in a public-school setting. 

from Fan Fare:

Jeff Beck says Beatles “as good as George Martin allowed them to be”

The Beatles probably would have gone down in history as a pretty good bar band had it not been for their producer George Martin, according to Jeff Beck. The guitar virtuoso, who worked with the studio wizard on a pair of acclaimed albums in the 1970s, said on Thursday the Beatles were "as good as George Martin allowed them to be."

jeff1 " To my ears I wasn't hearing much," Beck said during a Q&A at the Grammy Museum. "George put (in) all these chords and these fantastic sounds, and all the experimentation was afforded by George. He enabled it. Up to that point they were singing the Star Club (in) Hamburg and doing Gene Vincent songs.

from Fan Fare:

Ringo Starr gets his Hollywood star at low-wattage ceremony

If the stars come out at night, they failed to illuminate Ringo Starr's Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony on Monday, the first time a star has been unveiled at night.

starrA surprisingly low-wattage assortment of celebrities showed up to see the former Beatles drummer get his star outside the Capitol Records building, most of them holdovers from Roy Orbison's ceremony 10 days ago such as Joe Walsh, Jeff Lynne, David Lynch, Eric Idle and Barbara Orbison. 

from Fan Fare:

Ringo Starr: “I’m the greatest”

After more than 50 years in the music business -- eight of them in the most scrutinized band on the planet -- Ringo Starr would rather do anything than submit to even more questions. But the former Beatles drummer has a new solo album to promote, and that means more interviews -- most recently at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Tuesday, when he took part in a Q&A and mini concert for about 230 fans.

ringo1Dressed in black, including an Elvis Presley t-shirt and Nike tennis shoes, the 69-year-old Starr lived up to his reputation as the "funny Beatle." The fans were eager to project a Beatles connection onto his every word, and Starr knew it.