Pt. Ravi Shankar «Back
Plot No.7, Chanakya Puri,
New Delhi,
  • Shankar is an honorary member of the International Rostrum of Composers.
  • He has received many awards and honours from his own country and from all over the world, including 14 honorary doctorates, the Padma Vibhushan, Desikottam, the Magsaysay Award from Manila, three Grammy Awards, the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize (Grand Prize) from Japan, and the Crystal Award from Davos, with the title "Global Ambassador," to name but some.
  • In 1986 he was nominated to be a member of the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of Parliament, for six years.
  • In 2002, he was conferred the inaugural Indian Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • The Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, was awarded to him in 1999. In 1998 he was awarded the Polar Music Prize with Ray Charles.
  • He shared an Academy Award nomination with George Fenton for Best Original Score to Gandhi

Pandit Ravi Shankar was  born April 7, 1920, in Benares, is a Bengali Indian sitar player and composer. He is a disciple of Baba Allauddin Khan, the founder of the Maihar gharana of Hindustani classical music.

Baba Allauddin Khan Saheb throughout his life, learnt from many musicians. Wherever he went, when anything inspired him, he just took it. He had a tremendous grasping power. When he finally settled in Rampur to learn from Ustad Wazir Khan Saheb, at that time Rampur was a great seat of musicians. There were almost a few hundred musicians present in Rampur.

So Baba, used to listen to them and learn from them. He assimilated the

whole learning and created a style of his own. The style was enriched by thealap, jod of the drupad style of Beenkar gharana. At the same time in vilambit gat, the vistar and tan‑s etc., had the khayal style. In all tempo‑sfrom Ati vilambat, Madhya vilambit, Madhya drut, drut, ati drut he progressed gradually and tried to set his own style to start with slow alap and finish with ati drut gat jhala. Baba Allauddin created a new style by playing the drut gat from Sam and mainly the zamzama gats. So Zamzama and Gat starting from Sam were first Played by him which are very popular now.

Baba's association with different musicians and learning from some of them,finally brought out a style of his own, which we call the Maihar style of playing today, that is after Allauddin Khan Saheb died and his son and our Khalifa Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, his disciple and son‑in‑law Pandit Ravi Shankarji, daughter Annapoornaji, Nikhil Banerjee ‑ all these instrumentalists became popular, it was named as "Maihar gharana'. But basically they were following the Beenkar style of Beenkar gharana of Rampur i.e. the Senia  gharana, since Rampur was the place where Baba Allauddin came to learn at the feet of the great Ustad Wazir Khan who was the descendant of the Senia gharana from Tansenji's daughter's side.

His style of sitar has 7 main strings, 13 sympathetic strings and 20 frets. It has two resonating gourds, the main resonating gourd on one end and half size of the main gourd called tumbi on the other end. The tuning of the main strings are tuned as Ma, Sa (jora), Pa (kharaj), Sa (kharaj), Pa, Sa (chikari),  Sa(chikari) and sympathetic strings are tuned according to ragas. The decoration of the sitar is very elaborate. When Pt. Ravi Shankar ji started playing he was often criticized by some musicians saying “He plays Sarod baj on sitar”.

The sound of Pandit ji's sitar was on a much lower pitch, almost tuned to B flat and so very  soft. Pandit Ravi Shankar ji in order to get all the varieties that Baba had taught him brought some modi fications in the sitar. With the help of Mr.N.C.Mallick, a long time friend of Guruji, the shape of the instrument, the sound quality etc. was changed.

As a natural corollary to the Maihar Gharana, Pt. Ravi Shankar brought about many physical changes in the sitar:

l. Pandit Ravi Shankar felt the necessity of putting Ati‑kharaj strings ‑ to do justice to Baba's talim of the different styles of Been, Sur singar, Rabab and Surbahar playing. While playing Drut jor, Jhala, Gat Tan Toda, etc. the Ati­ Kharaj and Kharaj Pancham strings sounded loud and besura (or out of tune) with the loud strokes. Therefore he invented the 'hook' system which were attached on 'parda' (fret), where when needed, these two strings can be 'hooked' and tuned to SA,GA,MA,PA or DHA‑ any of these notes suited to the raga‑ which gives such a pleasant effect.

2. He also recommended the addition of the twentieth fret so that the upper octave MA (M) can be played without pulling the strings and reaching up to upper SA with the help of the meend.

3. Pt.ji was looking for the lower frequencies of surbahar which he wanted in his sitar and so the present day sitar is an amalgamation of sitar and surbahar.

4. The sitar that Mr.N.C.Mallick had designed was very huge and difficult to carry about, so looking at these difficulties Mr. Bishan Dass of 'Rikhi Ram Musical Instrument Mfg.Co.' designed a sitar which was not only compact in size but had a very good tonal quality. The present day sitar which Pt.ji plays has been made by Mr. Bishan Dass.

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