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Navras Raga Interactive Guide

Navras NRSW 013


This DVD is a sequel to Magic Software's INDIA MUSICA CD-ROM (1998) and THE RAGA GUIDE, a highly recommended survey of 74 Hindustani Ragas supplied with 4 CDs [Nimbus NI 5536-9].


Despite their huge sales neither addresses adequately a central need for Western explorers of (for older listeners) an alien musical culture.


We have been listening to Indian Classical Music with continual fascination and pleasure for many decades now, ever since the early visits to England of great instrumentalists such as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan (singers were not to be heard easily until later). Many of their concerts were in small venues, given to audiences often better balanced numerically than can happen nowadays. We English were not privy to the language of the spoken introductions (published programme books are still a rarity!) nor could we comprehend what special magics earned audible appreciation from the cognoscenti during the performances. (We tried to augment our inadequate knowledge and insight by attending a course at the School of Oriental and African Studies; vocally inept, and not comfortable enough to sit on the floor for a week...)


Please click onto the link to THE RAGA GUIDE (which sold over 10,000 copies), and of which I wrote " - - you can find all the ragas you are ever likely to encounter in miniature performances on flute, sarod and voice, the ascent-descent and melodic outlines of each rag transcribed in both western and Indian notation - - the core of the enterprise is the raga Alhaiya bilavi, winningly sung in a four minute version and fully transcribed in its entirety - - one might wish that others of the miniature performances had been transcribed similarly, rather than devoting so much space to the more esoteric background - - illustrating different rags. Had the project been reviewed during its long gestation, a CD-Rom might well have been considered, to include help with the rhythmic basis of the compositions (talas) which in performance are accompanied by claps and waves of the right hand, without which knowledge they are hard to follow. - - "


The new DVD (beware! It, like Magic Software's INDIA MUSICA, is actually a DVD-ROM and it will not play on through our TV via my DVD-Player/Recorder) boasts about its utilisation of recent developments in computer technology. It provides a lot of information on its "Book" section, but the DVD tracks, sad to relate, are too simple and fail to address my (our) needs in ways that could have been easy.


We are not given "the ascent-descent and melodic outlines of each rag transcribed in both western and Indian notation", which would have made a huge difference to its value for those of us who sought to get beyond superficial enjoyment. There are now on the market a variety of innovative CD-ROMs and DVDs which could point the way, and surely achieve large sales?


Of those I have reviewed, I add here links to follow to two innovative discs which allow you to follow the scores easily on screen. The Pollini CD-pluscore has a pointer which keeps pace with the pianist's fingers and turns the pages... All the techniques would apply with equal benefit to recordings of Indian Classical and other oriental musics:


BEETHOVEN Sonatas (CD-pluscore) Maurizio Pollini
Deutsche Grammophon 435 472-2


Beethoven Piano Concertos with a multitude of interactive extras Duchâble/Nelson
Ambroisie Interactive AMI 99403002


A missed chance!

© Peter Grahame Woolf