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My Music, My Life Hardcover – 31 Jan 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Mandala Publishing Group; New Ed edition (31 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601090056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601090058
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 1.5 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 835,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Ravi Shankar, the legendary sitarist and composer, is a singular phenomenon in the classical music worlds of the East and West. He has written music for Yehudi Menuhin, Jean Pierre Rampal, Phillip Glass and George Harrison. The international award-winning musician is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is a member of the United Nations International Rostrum of Composers. He is known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. He lives in California and India.


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Format: Hardcover
Ravi Shankars book "My music My life" from 1969 is a great introduction to Indian music and how it is to grow up in India as a music student.
In chapter one "My Heritage" Shankar explains the basic principles of Indian music, the difference between North and South Indian music and the most common musical instruments.Chapter two "My Masters" is about his teachers and chapter three "Myself" is Shankars autobiography. Chapter four is a manual for learning the sitar.
I found this book very enjoyable and a great introduction to one of the best music this planet has to offer and Shankar is one of the greatest musicians of this century. The chapter about his life in India as a music student were very interesting to me because it is so different from being a music student in Iceland.
See also his book published in 1999 the brilliant Raga Mala: The Autobiography of Ravi Shankar.
For those interested I would also recomend the video "Raga" which is a documentary about Shankar (done I think in the late 60's) and of course all his fabulous C.D's.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NADA BRAHMA - GOD IS SOUND. 30 Sept. 1999
By Örn Leifsson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ravi Shankars book "My music My life" from 1969 is a great introduction to Indian music and how it is to grow up in India as a music student.
In chapter one "My Heritage" Shankar explains the basic principles of Indian music, the difference between North and South Indian music and the most common musical instruments.Chapter two "My Masters" is about his teachers and chapter three "Myself" is Shankars autobiography. Chapter four is a manual for learning the sitar.
I found this book very enjoyable and a great introduction to one of the best music this planet has to offer and Shankar is one of the greatest musicians of this century. The chapter about his life in India as a music student were very interesting to me because it is so different from being a music student in Iceland.
For those interested I would also recomend the video "Raga" which is a documentary about Shankar (done I think in the late 60's) and of course all his fabulous c.d's.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterwork from a master 13 Jan. 2008
By R Foose - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I own the first edition of this book. It is probably one of the more accessible introductions to Indian music, the Guru/Shishya relationship, and the sitar itself that you will find. Other books cover each of these areas in more detail, but this one is enough unless you really want to invest a LOT of time...in which case, you'd probably do better to find a guru of your own. The last of the four sections of the book is a pretty thorough introduction to the sitar and its technique, as well a very rudimentary introduction to several ragas. It will take you a long way along the path to mastery if you dedicate yourself to completely assimilating the material provided..but again, a teacher would still do a better job in the same amount of time. So...definitely get this book, in either edition, and begin a relationship with this remarkable man and his even more remarkable music.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instruction from the Pandit himself 26 Aug. 2009
By Zwildesang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
After religiously listening to multiple Ravi Shankar recordings and looking at Sitars on Ebay for several months, I finally found an excellent deal on a "R.S. style" Sitar. Even before it arrived, I knew it was missing a few strings. I have been able to apply my experience with the guitar in restringing other stringed instruments (in the case of the chinese Liuqin) but the construction of the Sitar seemed wholly different and far more intimidating.

After finding out that "My Music, My Life" contained a manual for the maintenance and playing of the Sitar, I had no hesitation purchasing it for a chance to receive written instruction from the Pandit himself. The manual portion of the book has detailed information on the construction of the Sitar, the proper way to restring and tune it with Western notational equivalents and photographs of the resplendent Anoushka Shankar illustrating the proper techniques of holding and playing the instrument. At the end of all this is an explanation of the notational symbols used in Indian music that would be unfamiliar to the Western musician and multiple exercises and ragas employing this form of notation.

Of course that is only one half of the book. Chapter one gives a concise history of Hindustani and Karnatic music, drawing parallels and attempting to explain the differences between the Indian tradition and Western music, an explanation of the "Nine Sentiments" or colors of a Raga and a summary of the instruments employed in Indian music. The remaining chapters detail the pioneers of the Hindustani and Karnatic traditions, after which Ravi Shankar gives a short account of his life and experiences with his guru.

This is an excellent introduction to Indian music, and I felt honored to be shown insights into this rich and ancient tradition. The autobiography "Raga Mala" is a more detailed account of Ravi Shankar's life, but "My Music, My Life" will be an invaluable asset to the Westerner drawn to the exotic phrasing and drones of the Sitar.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fun, friendly, and informative 5 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found the chapter on introductory sitar technique particularly captivating and enlightening. I'd spent many hours pouring over explanations of Indian music in Grove's, world music, texts, etc., and this short chapter made it seem real for the first time. (A curiosity: This was edited by one Carly Simon, scion of Simon & Schuster's elder Simon, before she became known in another capacity.) Those interested in East-West musical synthesis will also want to take a look at Jeff Burns's PENTATONIC SCALES FOR THE JAZZ-ROCK KEYBOARDIST.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful book!!!!!! 4 April 2011
By StephenDvd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everything Raviji touches is gold!

This book is really wonderful, both as a personal autobiography of a master musician, and as a technical manual for learning Sitar.

I haven't had a chance to read the entire book yet, but I have tried some of the exercises in the technical section, and they are not only very helpful but quite beautiful in their own right.

Its probably true for every instrument, but practice exercises can tend to be uninteresting or not very melodic. But the material in this book makes even a beginner feel like he is playing "real" Hindustani music.

Ok, you still need personal instruction to learn to play a complete raga, but this is a really good start until you can find a teacher.

UPDATE
I finished reading the "autobiographical" sections and have been practicing the exercises for some time now, so thought this review should be updated.

The entire book is focused on music. By that I mean that even the "autobiographical" sections are focused solely on Ravi's involvement and development in music, as opposed to his personal life.

It starts off giving a brief, but concise history of the historical development of Indian music, and Hindustani music in particular, including development of instruments and styles/schools of playing. Then it shows where Ravi and his Guru fit into this context.

It then discusses Ravi's early years dancing in brother Uday's dance troupe; how he basically learned to play multiple instruments "by ear" and how he eventually focused on Sitar under the teachings of Usted "Baba" Allauddin Khan.

The book is a fascinating chronicle of how Ravi developed musically and began introducing Hindustani Classical music to the West and how he began changing the way even Indians listen to and honor their own music.

The only (very) slight complaint I have is that the book really doesn't touch much on his non-professional life. He barely mentions his relations with women, even though he had a reputation of being a "womanizer." He mentions Norah Jones' mother in passing, and his current wife. But, even though he mentions his first marriage to Baba's daughter, he does not mention what happened with this marriage. Did she die? Did it end in divorce?

However, I am not knocking this book because if you take it for what it is... a book focused on Ravi's professional life, music and teachings it is a truly fascinating read.

And, after working more on the practice exercises, I think you don't need another sitar book. This has everything you need to get started on learning Sitar, other than a live, in-person teacher. (which is critical, actually!)
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