The 1968 Exhibit: Ravi Shankar, The Sounds of India, 1968

“An Introduction to Indian Music” by Ravi Shankar [1968]

shankar-sounds-of-india1968 was unquestionably a crucial year in the spread of Indian classical music to the West. In February, George Harrison‚Äîwho had experimented with Indian instruments and composition techniques as early as 1965 with “Norwegian Wood”‚Äîand the rest of The Beatles traveled to India to study under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Their presence in India shone the spotlight directly on Indian culture and music. It is no coincidence that Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Brij Bhusan Kabra‚Äôs LP Call of the Valley, a ‚Äúconcept album‚Äù about a shepherd from Kashmir, began to infiltrate markets worldwide in ‚Äò68, eventually attaining platinum status.

The same year, sitar master Ravi Shankar, whose music David Crosby had introduced to Harrison three years earlier, took advantage of rising Western interest in all things Indian by releasing an album, The Sounds of India, targeted at speakers of English. As the opening track makes plain, Shankar interspersed explanations of Indian classical music to provide basic context to otherwise lost Western listeners. The rest of the album contains more playing and less talking, but still introduces the unique rhythms and instruments effectively. Highly recommended, whether you are obsessed with 1968 or not.

Listen to the track and read other entries by music historian John Vanek on his blog, from which the above entry has been shamelessly lifted. Thanks for the post, John!