Monday, September 28, 2009

Falu to sing (classical) at Joe's Pub in New York

Falu, the professional name for Falguni Shah, the Mumbai-born singer who has made a mark by using her training in Hindustani classical music to bring new dimensions to popular music in the U.S., will be performing a primarily classical music concert at Joe's Pub in New York City on 1 October. Accompanying her will be Mark Tewarson (acoustic guitar), Gaurav Shah (vocal, harmonium, and bansuri [bamboo flute]), Sami Shumays (violin), Borahm Lee (tanpura), Dave Sharma (dholak, daff, and manjira), and Naren Budhkar (tabla). She also has a forthcoming concert at Carnegie Hall on 15 November.

When she was in Washington last year as the opening act for Junoon, the Pakistani supergroup which was performing at the National Geographic auditorium, I was able to interview her about the origins of her interest and career in music. I'll be posting the first video clips from that interview--now that I've learned the basics of video editing--in the near future.

In the meantime, click on this link to see a television feature, based on the interview, written and produced by VOA's senior correspondent Ravi Khanna.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

America's living national treasures: A scenesetter

The National Heritage Fellowships, awarded every year by the National Endowment of the Arts, honor a dozen or so practitioners of traditional and folks arts in the United States; this year's disciplines included music, dance, basket weaving, and poetry.

After the 2008 awards ceremony, I wrote in one of my earliest blog entries:

"When I first came to Washington in 1986 to join the Voice of America as the Chief of the Urdu Service (having found the folkloric tradition as one of my avenues of discovery of the communicative powers of music), I attended my first National Heritage Awards celebration in Washington. The splendid narrator for the evening was the late Charles Kurault, host of the incomparable 'Sunday Morning' television show, which more than any other news program before or since quietly but eloquently celebrated the diversity, humanity, and vitality of the American heartland. I remember that evening with crystalline clarity (having moved after 26 years of university study and teaching to broadcast journalism) as carrying a spiritual message that inspired me, in my new and exciting career, to explore culture as a medium of understanding universal values among humankind."

This year's ceremony, to be held again tonight in the visionary Music Center at Strathmore, a cavernous structure that seats an audience of nearly 2,000 amidst a captivating multi-level array of glowing wood surfaces, promises to be no less memorable. Once again, Nick Spitzer, host of the popular Public Radio International "roots [folk/traditional/world] music" program, American Routes, will be the master of ceremonies for the evening.

I hope to comment on aspects of tonight's program in future blog entries, and have already paid tribute in a previous posting to the late Mike Seeger, one of this year's Fellows. To the left is a picture of his widow, Alexa Smith, receiving his award in a ceremony in the national Capitol's visitor's center the day before yesterday (Tuesday, 22 September 2009). You can read more about him, and listen to an audio tribute to him, with photographs, on the NEA Website. (Photo by Tom Pich.)

In the meantime, here are the photographs of other Fellows in the performing arts receiving their awards, with links to their NEA pages, with audio samples:

Here are the Birmingham Sunlights, a gospel music group from the city of that name in the Southern state of Alabama, who specialize in a vocal style, sung a capella (without any instrumental accompaniment) in what is called four-part harmony, with four different melodic lines woven together at different intervals so as to create chords. Go to their NEA Web page for their interview (which you can listen to or read), as well as for audio samples of their distinctive performance style. (Photo by Michael G. Stewart.)

Next among the musical Fellows is Edwin Colón Zayas, possibly the world's leading master of the cuatro, a guitar-like instrument popular in his home, the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico; the instrument, despite its name (cuatro is "four" in Spanish), has five pairs of strings. You may read his interview (in Spanish, or translated into English), and hear two clips of his music on his NEA Web page. (Photo by Michael G. Stewart.)

Amma D. McKen, from the culturally rich New York borough of Queens, performs in the vocal style of the Orisha religious tradition practiced among the Yoruba tribe of the African nation of Nigeria. Her interview, as well as two audio samples of her performance, is on her NEA Web page. (Photo by Tom Pich.)

Next is Dudley Laufman, a dance caller and musician from Canterbury in the northeastern state of New Hampshire. In the U.S., "barn dances", "square dances", or "contra dance" traditions, movements of the dancers (usually couples, and amateurs, often members of a rural community or group of families), are directed by a "caller" who gives advance notice to the participants of the next dance move, taken from a shared repertoire of stock patterns, that they are to make. Laufman himself is also a fiddle player, and examples of typical dance music, as well as his interview, may be heard on his NEA Web page. (Photo by Tom Pich.)

Finally, among the musicians, Ida Guillory, currently living Daly City, CA, is a singer and master of the accordion. She is known popularly as "Queen Ida", and performs in the Zydeco music and dance tradition, which emerged in the coastal state of Louisiana among the Creole community, whose culture and language resulted from a fascinating fusion of southern American and French influences. She is notable for being the first woman to lead a Zydeco band. Go to her NEA Web page for her interview and music samples. It is also interesting to note that she spent her formative years outside New Orleans, first in Texas, then in California, and yet became one of the best known and most beloved of Zydeco performers. (Photo by Tom Pich.)

This years Fellows also included two dancer/choreographers:

Chitresh Das, originally from India, is a practitioner of the classical Indian dance form known as Kathak, which, like the Flamenco tradition of Spain, or American tap dancing, places a primary emphasis on intricate percussive footwork. He lives and teaches in the San Franciso Bay area. His interview may be read on his NEA Web page. (Photo by Tom Pich.)

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, now living in Long Beach, CA, is originally from Cambodia, where she and her parents survived the horrific holocaust perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, under which all traditional Cambodian arts, including the rich classical dance legacy, were brutally and ruthlessly suppressed. You may read her interview on her NEA Web page. (Photo by Tom Pich.)

Also see the NEA Website for profiles of the other Fellows--two basket weavers, LeRoy Graber, from Freeman, SD, and Teri Rofkar, a member of the Tinglit tribe from Sitka, AK--and Joel Nelson, a cowboy poet from Alpine, Texas, whose NEA Web page includes audio recordings of him reciting two of his eloquent poems, as well as a slide show of the Cowboy Poetry Festival.

Judging from this rich panorama of diverse talents, tonight's program will most likely be as rich as last year's, and I expect in future postings to highlight the performance, as well as the achievements, of at least two of the National Heritage Fellows, who--in the tradition of some other countries who recognize the importance of the arts and artists--may be considered to be among America's living National Treasures.

(All photos of N.E.A. Chairman Rocco Landesman presenting the awards were provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, and are used with permission; photographer credits are given with each picture. The generous assistance of Elizabeth Stark of the N.E.A.'s Office of Communications is also gratefully acknowledged.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The lure and lore of Andalusia, and a haunting song from the aether of the Internet

Andalusia: A name, a magical concept with a fantasia of historical and cultural resonances. While generally connected with the province of that name in Spain, it also associated with the dominant strain of classical music in North Africa. In my own world, dreams of Andalusia were first awakened during my years as a Flamenco guitarist back in Denver, Colorado, where I was fortunate to serve as one of the two Flamenquistas (the other being the late Vaughan Aandahl) for the large Hispanic community there. So many of the names of songs or genres in our music, or the cities of master performers, came from Andalusia: Seville (Sevillanas), Cádiz, Málaga (Malagueñas), Granada (a beloved piano solo by Isaac Albéniz, 1860-1909). . . .

After numerous visits to India and Pakistan in the 60's, 70's, and 80's, I found that the country I most longed to discover next was Morocco, largely from following the writings of Paul Bowles (1910-1999), that extraordinary American who achieved legendary fame not only as a expatriate writer (The Sheltering Sky, his first novel, being his best-known work, with a subsequent film version directed by Bernardo Bertolucci), but also as composer/musicologist, whose achievements in composition were celebrated at a major three-day festival at Lincoln Center in 1995 (I'll be posting at a later date portions of an interview I did with Bowles at the time), and whose recordings of music from all over Morocco constitute a definitive collection at the Library of Congress. Samples of his readings and music can be heard on a number of CDs available from

In 1986, during my last months at Duke University, I taught a course in "Music of the Islamic World" for the University's Study Abroad Program (of which I was outgoing Assistant Dean) in the wondrous city of Marrakech. In the midst of my teaching, I took a chance flight to Tangier to meet Bowles (I say chance because he had no telephone, and the best address I had for him was "behind Tangier Socco. . . .") After persistent inquiries here and there in the city, I was able to spend a full afternoon with him talking about music. I'm certain that Bowles' generosity with his time with me grew from the fact that it was not drugs, but our common interest in music that I was pursuing in our conversation, whereas most of his visitors apparently sought to meet him because of his seminal role in 20th Century literature, and his interest in altered states of consciousness. As Norman Mailer wrote, in “Advertisements for Myself”: “Paul Bowles opened the world of Hip. He let in the murder, the drugs . . . the death of the Square . . . the end of civilization" (quoted from a fine biographical sketch of Bowles by Allen Hibbard on, his authorized Website with a veritable treasury of Bowlesiana.

I again visited Morocco in 1994 for a sitar performance at the annual International Cultural Festival (Moussem Culturel) in Asilah with Shubha Sankaran and Ustad Zamir Khan, as well as collaborative experiments with local musicians. Both on this trip, and during the previous visit in 1986, my appreciation of traditional Andalusian music--with its serpentine melodic and narrative development, addicting rhythms, and richness of voices, both human and instrumental, in solo as well as ensemble--grew immeasurably.

So it was yesterday that memories of this wonderful tradition were awakened by yesterday's visit to Washington by my old friend and fellow ethnomusicologist, Philip D. Schuyler, whose areas of expertise include Morocco and its music. Our discussions ranged from contemporary genres, with hip-hop and rap adopted by young Moroccans, back to the living music of the past. Our discussions reminded me of a sublime performance in Washington earlier in the year by the Chabab al-Andalous Rabat Orchestra, with vocal soloists Mohammed Bajeddoub (male) and Bahae Ronda (female).

Happily, the performance has been archived in its entirety (albeit with a small video picture) at the Millennium Stage's extraordinary Website.

Mark Jenkins, the most reliable of world music reviewers in Washington, wrote a beautifully perceptive piece on the performance. (Sadly, Post reviews of world music are now generally relegated to the newspaper's Website under the category "PostRock"!)

As a matter of interest (moving out on a bit of a tangent . . . ), in this era of "new media" and "social networking", it is worth noting the existence of three relevant FaceBook groups: The Andalusian classical music of Morocco (199 members, with a total of 59 links, mostly of quality performance videos, last updated 8 June 2009); Andalusian music - Musique andalouse (275 members, with a total of 35 links, the last relevant posted in January 2009), and Moroccan Andalusian Music (60 members, with three video links, last updated in 2008).

It is indicative of the unique power of music to transcend borders, as well as of the comparatively tolerant ethos of al-Andalus (and of coures, Morocco), that my browsings yielded (on the second site above) a link to one of several videos of L'orchestre Andalou d'Israel, with soloist Emile Zrihan (who is also a cantor), as well as a full-gesture conductor (not traditional), and a full mixed-gender ensemble (again, not customary), with many of the men wearing yarmulkes!

Pursuing this fascinating cultural continuity, I discovered a Web page, including CDs by the above ensemble, dedicated to an Israeli label, Magda Records. The hosting Website, ("music from the road less traveled . . . "), promises to provide material for future VOAWM musings. As noted under FAQs: "cdRoots is a one-man show, so please be patient. It may take a day or two to respond to your e-mails, and may take three to four days to ship an order (I do take days off, and there is no one else to cover for me!). Please be patient."

More CDs can be found on the Magda Website itself ("Sounds from Another Middle East; Israel's leading Ethnic and World music Label. . . . ")

And yet more distractions: A sub-page (which, sadly, I can no longer locate. . .) connected to the basic "Listen" tab on the cdRoots main Web page, and listing on-line stations of interest.

And the soundstream of the "Listen" tab leads into a haunting song emerging mysteriously from the aether of the Internet, "Guide me O thou great Jehovah" (lyrics on!), sung in what sounds like a Scottish brogue against a slow ostinato of just two alternating clustered piano chords, presently joined by a languid drum set background accenting the third beat of four, then moving into a luminous improvisation on the piano of melting jazz harmonies. . . .

The song takes possession of me, and my old compulsion resurfaces: I MUST find out who the artist(s) is(are), WHERE I can find the recording, WHAT inspired the artist(s). (I do find out at last, enough for a listen after I get home, but that must wait for a later post. . . . )

For, again, comes the official end of my day at VOA (the first four hours devoted to learning Final Cut Pro editing skills in order to post original video footage on these pages), and I've not yet gotten down to my original basic purpose when I began this entry: to write a brief but informative review of the Chabab al-Andalous Rabat Orchestra's extraordinary Kennedy Center performance.

At this point, you'll just have to listen for yourself.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Indo-Irish fusions? Delhi to Dublin?

Irish and Indian musicians and dancers collaborating? Is that concept too far a reach?

It didn't seem so to me some months ago when one of my Google searches was spinning predictably out of control, and suddenly I ended up on a YouTube rendition by a group that called itself "Delhi 2 Dublin" that was dancing and playing music on a Montreal stage, demonstrating an energy and joy in performance that was most impressive. I made a mental note to pursue in a blog entry the group's activities at some point in the future.

Well, happily, VOA's Lonnie Shavelson in San Francisco done just that, with a fine radio report.

The group was formed in 2006, and in terms of dance blends Irish step dancing with the super-popular Indian dance form known as bhangra. In terms of the music itself, the vocals are supported by both western instruments (fiddle and guitar) and the South Asian sitar and drums: the two-piece tabla and the barrel-shaped dhol.

You can see 15 different videos of their performances in authorized YouTube links on their Website, by clicking on the "music & downloads" tab directly under their logo at the top of the Web page; audio samples of their music may be found on their MySpace page.

The bhangra craze itself has taken Great Britain (where there are millions of reisdents of South Asian origin) by storm, and is making inroads into American dance culture, particularly on college campuses, where South Asian students from abroad, as well as Americans born of South Asian parents, have become increasingly active in promoting this particular aspect of their traditional culture.

A simple Google search of "Bhangra blowout" brings an impressive 134,000 hits--showing the popularity of the form. The first hit, fortuitously for us, is for the eponymous Website (, set up by the students at Washington's George Washington University. We'll be bringing you a report of the next celebration of this dance form by the local student group in the spring of 2010.

Dance away--or at least feast your eyes and ears on this infectious expression of human exuberance!

Friday, September 11, 2009

In search of Alanis Morissette's elusive India: the quest itself

I'm reminded here of the old Saturday morning film serials of my childhood (not those on TV, which we didn't have until I was in junior high school--my father didn't believe in television. . . .)

Cliffhanger: As we left our fearless hero, the ethnomusicologist, at last posting, he said:

"At this point, patient reader, you are almost certainly asking: What happened to Alanis???"

And he urged that you try to find the mystery song from his daughter's Father's Day mix-CD, entitled, as it turns out (as we shall discover below), "Uninvited", somewhere on the Internet:

He directed you to an official pared down (without the elaborate orchestration) video performance of the song on AOL, and numerous YouTube versions of her acoustic rendition of the song on MTV Unplugged, as well as her performance at the 1999 Grammy Awards, in which she received the "Best Rock Song" and "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" awards for the song, in addition to a nomination for "Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media".

And he urged you: "At this point I would ask YOU to characterize the performance, and identify what you find unusual in the presentation." And he hoped that some of you would respond . . . .

For the preceding background to this question--regarding the Beatles, sitars, ragas, tablas, and such matters--click here.

I'll confess that in concluding the previous post, I was dodging an analysis, partly because the first few times I heard the song the musical innovations did not strike me explicitly, and it remained for my surbahar-playing wife and fellow practitioner of Indian music Shubha to point out to me that there was indeed something quite unique in the song. I think it's important to experience the music intuitively first, and then analyze what exceptional musical characteristics contribute to that experience.

But I'll also confess that my taxonomic obsession (previously chronicled in "Who was that masked . . . musician, anyway?") stymied me in my initial explorations of the origins of the song. First of all, the version on my daughter's mix-CD had no title. Which meant that I was already handicapped in looking for the song in the VOA music library. For some reason or other I was convinced--probably because of stylistic features--that it was on her initial CD, Jagged Little Pill, (turns out that it was, after all, recorded shortly shortly after JLP) and I spent a good half hour trying, to no avail, to locate it on the copy I checked out from the library. Which drove me crazy.

Then, on sudden inspiration (this is, after all, 2009), and taking advantage of the panoply of reference options on the Web, after listening to the first few lines of the song on the mix-CD, I do a Google search for one of the exact phrases of the song, and after bouncing from one Website to another, I finally discover that the song was titled "Uninvited", and was initially not released as a single, but rather was from the soundtrack of the 1998 film City of Angels, and was not included on one of her own CD's until the 2005 Collection.

Fine. Now I can place the song in the chronology and discography of Morissette's work. But then of course I have to embark on an additional search of the Web for clues to the origins of what seems to me to be almost certainly an overall Indian mood--and the ethnomusicologist in me will not rest until I know just how the wonderful effects of that song came to be!

Well, after another half hour of ricocheting from Website to Website, I did learn that after the staggering success of Jagged Little Pill (according to Billboard Magazine, it is the 12th best-selling album in the world, at 32,200,00, and the best-selling album ever by a woman artist), Alanis Morissette went to India for six weeks in 1997--thirty years after the Beatles. I cannot resist here steering you to a Macleans' Magazine article, quoted online in the Canadian Encyclopedia, regarding the circumstances of her trip:

"Imagine. You are 23 years old and you have made the biggest-selling album ever recorded by a female singer. You have won four Grammys and six Junos [the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards]. You have toured the world, and everywhere you go, from Milwaukee to Manila, you can hear echoes of your own voice raging from car radios. You are a lapsed Roman Catholic, an Ottawa girl who learned to bare her soul in Los Angeles, and who became, as you put it, Miss Thing. Now everyone wants a piece of you but you desperately want to get away. And get real. Who you gonna call? Mother Teresa?

"Well, if you're Alanis Morissette, that's exactly what you do. . . . ."

Dear reader, you'll have to read the online article in full to learn the extraordinary circumstances surrounding that call, and the eerie consequences.

But for my purposes, I could find no online references whatsoever to the relationship of "Uninvited" to her trip to India. Was it written before, during, or after the trip? Did she meet any Indian musicians? Did she hear any concerts? Not a clue. Nothing.

Which leaves me with the only option being to pursue a telephone interview with Alanis Morissette. But I am unable to find any direct link to her management to begin such a pursuit.

A Google search for Alanis' label, Maverick Records, brings up as the first entry, with the only constant piece of information being the phrase "Maverick: An Entertainment Company"-- Maverick Records' parent company, and which otherewise consists solely of what seems to be a simulated television screen with a briefly flickering and then distorted Maverick logo, then the phrase "coming soon",--accompanied by a hideous white noise hissing underneath an almost radioactive black-pixeled television "snow" seething infinitesimally within a calm, tweed-like blackish fabric border.

The telephone line of her record label, Maverick Records (which Wikipedia identifies as being in Burbank California), is out of order when I call; the supervising operator of Directory Assistance, who initially gave me the number, himself confirms this.

I go to, having found in Google search (#3) the following entry: "Contact Maverick Records - Contact information: Contact info and address to Maverick Records and all other important record labels. Submit your demos!" I am forwarded to, and click through a series of pages, only to be told "It's time to sign up! It's free, takes less than a minute and will definitely enhance your music career."

Now comes the bottom line: I'm given the option of selecting "1 ad-supported Artist Page ($0) - Free! (Does not include full access to HitQuarters)". Which presumably means no access to Alanis Moriessette's management. Otherwise it's $15. Or $25.

But I don't want to submit my demo. I want to contact Maverick Records! I want to talk to Alanis Morissette! To learn how and why she wrote "Uninvited!!

(. . . . .)

Well. I's the end of the day. The end of the week. The work week, at least. On Monday perhaps I'll try other avenues to contact the management.

Unless I send a personal e-mail tonight to Alanis on her official Website. With a link to this blog. With a request for a telephone interview.

Maybe I'll do that.

But in any case, the unfolding mystery of the origions of this wonderful song, this astonishing two-Grammy-Award-Winning masterpiece, will continue in a later installment, hopefully with some direct elucidation from Alanis Morissette herself.

In the meantime, I'll go home and watch City of Angels on the instant "play now" option of my Netflix.

I've established that at least that is possible tonight.

Happy Friday!

In search of Alanis Morissette's elusive India: the background

In an earlier posting on personal tape and CD song compilations, I referred to a wonderful song by Alanis Morissette which, as my wife, Shubha Sankaran, observed, had a number of rather startling musical elements not typically found in western pop music, but very characteristic of Indian music. But before addressing that particular song in detail, a bit of a retrospective is appropriate.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And in Memoriam Les Paul

After the death last month of Les Paul, my VOA colleague David Byrd shared his thoughts with friends on Facebook. While I had earlier rhapsodized in a posting on the joys of the acoustic guitar, I have never had the experience of playing a solid body electric guitar. But clearly Paul's inventive mastery is proven by the Standard and Studio models manufactured by the Gibson Corporation, which has created a high reputation among electric guitarists equal to that of the C. F. Martin Corporation among acoustic practitioners.

Here is David's tribute, reprinted with his kind permission:

"The man who invented the solid body electric guitar - Les Paul has died [at 94]. I had one of his Gibson guitars when I was a teenager. It was the heaviest piece of wood I ever strapped on - and I loved it. Sweet Home Alabama for the Gong Show at Union Pines High School - never forget it - and never forget Les Paul, a true Guitar Hero. . . .

"I remember meeting the man about 15 years ago at the Smithsonian Museum of American history. My girlfriend at the time was interviewing him, and even then, he had the spark of creativity which made him such an innovator.

"He also flirted with my girlfriend. But his mind was still thinking of things, new things, new ways to make sounds. Ironically, Epiphone turned down his original design for the solid-bodied guitar. So he took it to Gibson and they bought it. And the rest they say is history. I will never forget his crystal clear blue eyes, alive with creative energy.

"I even asked him why Les Paul guitars were so heavy. "Oh for the sustain, you see," he said. "We used heavy wood to get that screaming sustain up near the body in the high notes." Anyone who has ever listened to Jimmy Page, the Eagles, Lynard Skynard, or anyone else who rode on this man's LARGE coattails, knows exactly what he means. Thanks Les. RIP."

Another VOA colleague, Doug Levine, produced a radio feature on Paul, richly seeded with musical samples and interview excerpts.

And finally, Kane Farabaugh in New York also created his own lively VOA radio piece on the master inventor.

Update on Andrés Segovia's guitar

Following my previous post on the lore of acoustic guitars, my old Maine-based friend Lance Gunderson, an expert himself on the guitar (Flamenco and classical in particular) has sent in the following clarification of the master guitarist's instrument, with links I've added where appropriate:

* * * * * * *

Segovia played Hermann Hauser instruments at the mid-career point....up until around 1960, when his current Hauser II developed a mysterious internal buzz. Since he was in Spain at the time, he took the guitar to José Ramírez III to be (hopefully) repaired. Ramírez said he could not fix it, but while it was in his posession he studied it carefully and took measurements. Shortly after that Ramírez produced the now famous 1A Clasico, first in spruce but later in Western red cedar, which had not been used for guitar tops until then. Maestro Segovia quickly embraced these new Ramírez guitars and never played a Hauser again. He donated it, along with his first Manuel Ramírez guitar, to the Metropolitan Museum in NYC (for a healthy tax deduction).

In the late 1970's Segovia very briefly flirted with a guitar from the Barcelona builder Ignacio Fleta, but this guitar also developed an internal buzz which Segovia said could not be fixed, and he never played it again, reverting back to instruments from Ramírez III, which he played exclusively right up until the end in 1987.

Segovia usually traveled with two new Ramírez III instruments. At the end of a tour he would exchange them with Ramirez for new and different ones. Today the Ramírez shop, now run by daughter Amalia (the only surviving family member), proudly displays a cabinet full of Ramírez guitars said to have been played by Segovia.

* * * * * * *

Thank you, Lance. And readers, be sure to see the delightful and highly informative long video of the Ramírez shop and its construction of guitars on the Ramírez Webpage.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On the gift of music: sharing life, and love, through songs

How music brings us closer together. . . .

Last night, on the way back with my wife from a celebratory dinner at a charming local bistro serving superb French cuisine, I turned on the car radio/CD player, and instead of hearing the default news station, we were greeted with a song by Alanis Morissette, who was featured on a personally burned compilation CD (a contemporary version of a mixtape) sent to me by my daughter last Father's Day. I had discovered Alanis back in the pre-9/11 halcyon days when there was the frequent option of sampling the broadcasts of a now defunct local alternative rock radio station, on whose airwaves I had discovered a number of groundbreaking new singer-songwriters, mostly women.

Already several streams of thought are flooding my mind, but the one I want to focus on now is how technology enables us--with increasing facility--of sharing the songs, the music, we discover and grow to love with others.

It was in college that I discovered the joy of chronicling my life through the replaying of songs I had collected over the years on 7" 45 rpm discs--each of which brought back to me with riveting immediacy the general moods and modes of various periods of my life. College parties being college parties, the music of our greater generational era always served as simultaneous enhancement of both past (remembered) and present (experienced anew) moments fused together in a magical blend of nostalgia and discovery.

I think most of us know that a beloved song can be heard myriad times, often with new nuances of feeling in successive hearings, enriching on countless musical and emotional levels our experience of the song itself. This is true in solitude. But it was clear to me as a college undergraduate that playing one song, then another, hopping among years from the shared pasts (whether of years or merely weeks) of my companions, served to create a mode of communal sharing of a Friday or Saturday night that was absolutely unique. And so I found myself creating taped anthologies, for just such occasions, on my reel-to-reel Viking recorder of those beloved 45's--cutting my teeth as a DJ. And to my joy I discovered that record companies had begun to release similar collections on 12-inch LP discs, from which I could extract choice songs that I had heard on the radio in my teenage years (the 50's in particular) to add to my time-travel-tapes.

At some phase the phrase "teen dance party" entered my personal lexicon--whether in college or in my subsequent first year of sitar study in Ahmedabad, India I don't recall. But on certain hot summer nights in our flat in Urmikunj Society, my four fellow male Fulbright Tutors and I would "get down" to the sounds emanating from the 45's I was collecting from the local record outlet, Parekh's Music, of the latest American and British hits (often with only a few weeks' delay since of their American release), as well as older classics from college and high school days. No tapes in India, but there in the uniquely tranquil traditionality of Ahmedabad--the home of Mahatma Gandhi's famed ashram--we blazed and grooved to the intense expressions of youth, of rock and roll and all that, that burgeoned from America to inveigle (through those Stateside 45's pressed in India) our contemporaries in good old Nehruvian neutral and socialist India . . . .

During my second year in Ahmedabad, living as a paying guest with dear old toothless Mrs. Sorabji (my quarters being merely a curtain-partitioned bed-and-table in the central hallway of her dreary flat) I communed musically with my absent homeland through 3-inch reel tapes mailed to me by my then girlfriend, a fellow Fulbright Tutor who had returned to graduate study in the U.S. and was keeping me up to date as to the hits of the day.

Most memorably the songs of Bob Dylan, but also the Righteous Brothers and others, linked me to the cultural turbulence and vitality that was America in the mid 60's. And those songs played, seethed even, in my brain and soul in counterpoint to the priceless, iridescently complex ragas I was learning on the sitar from my ustad (teacher, maestro), the late Ghulamhusain Khan. Alone that year, I listened with the joy of discovery, and the pain of separation, to that evocative music, continuing to fill in the musical soundtrack of my own life with the anthologist's obsession noted in my previous posting.

Subsequently, my tapes--my anthologies, constantly evolving--served to energize three years of weekend parties at graduate school at the University of Chicago (1966-69), where both students and eminent scholars of South Asia drank and danced together with a heady abandon in which Krishna himself might have participated.

And then again at Minnesota (my first teaching gig, 1971-74), and Harvard (1974-83), where my career as a DJ came to full fruition, with the help of the Secretary of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, a like-minded eternal teenager, in a few weekend Dionysian gatherings, officially dubbed the CMES sock-hop, for which, as DaSilva, I spun my discs and played my tapes with dark glasses ("shades") and slicked-back hair (which in those days I still had in abundance . . . . )

Cut to last night--when my wife and I were listening to the CD personally compiled and sent with love for last Father's day by my daughter Laila (who was adopted as an infant from New Delhi in 1983), sharing the music of her own now almost totally American--but yet also global--soul. (This anthology reciprocated a tradition I had shared with her of giving her my own customized mixtapes, in the cassette era, of the songs I had loved over the years.)

And as if the euphoria created by the mix-CD from my daughter were not enough, my wife, Shubha Sankaran--stern classicist that she is in Indian musical matters, but also a free spirit in her willingness to celebrate the richness of the musics, both classical and popular, of the West--discovered in the second Alanis Morissette song an amazing example of how the most mainstream of western pop music has adopted, with amazing stealth and subtlety, the power of those aforementioned iridescent scales, beyond the simple major/minor modes of Europe and America.

But on to that, and the sharing of music on the Internet, in later posts. Prompted by my daughter's gift of music, across four decades of the differences in our ages, enough nostalgia for now . . . .