Develop your skills of rāga, tāla, and Sanskrit
pronunciation through the course An Ocean of Sound; then expand your repertoire here.
This resource, in good faith, is for Ocean of Sound students only. It's intended for your personal learning, not for re-distribution, and is not to be shared. Thank you for honoring this boundary... and please enjoy!!
Heart of Yoga School
Chant Book: 2021 edition lives HERE
The joy of discovery
One of my very favorite memories from college and my years in NYC is rummaging around in music libraries. I’d spend hours poring over scores of sheet music and shuffling through stacks of audio and video trying to find another song to sing!
I’ve maintained a relationship with all kinds of genres of music over the years, but my fascination with India and her music began in 2001. I received a BFA in Music and Theatre in 1997, and have been teaching Indian wisdoms since 2005. You can read more of my background here.
The music library
The songs in this library are a mix of songs I learned at Ashrams, chants I composed myself, or songs I learned on the suggestion of mentors. I am not a Classical Indian Musician, but my teacher is, and so my approach to Indian Music uses some fundamental principles that any child growing up in India with an interest in music might learn. An Ocean of Sound will teach you the foundation for reading these charts and applying your knowledge. The course will also suggest approaches to music that are inherently Indian and foreign to the purely Western approach in music.
The chant book mentions authors for longer form songs when known, whereas the charts do not currently mention composers. I do not name authors for most kirtan chants as it’s not customary to do so. In fact, many Indian composers wrote beautiful songs and denied any credit, instead giving authorship to a more well known name so that the song would have credibility and have more likelihood of being sung by the village. Songwriters seemed more interested in their songs being sung than in harnessing credit for their compositions.
The path of discovery
You may look through this library and not know how to make sense of it all? Don’t worry! All will become clear if you stay engaged in the course work in An Ocean of Sound and give it a little effort between classes doing the simple homework exercises. On completion of the 10 week course, if you practice and keep up, you will be able to read the charts in this music library and suit them to your own voice. Some chants are quite simple and you’ll be able to play them straight away. Others will take more practice of scales and development of your ear and listening skills before you can play them.
When putting all the pieces of the library together, a metronome is essential. Any free app or old school metronome will do. I use iTablaPro and will include a short lesson in An Ocean of Sound on how to use this particular app. What’s great about iTablaPro is that you can play beats of 5, 6, 7, etc and just keep it rolling while you practice your counting and do your rhythm exercises. The app will hold the count for you which is a boon for learning.
I think one of the best pieces of advice that my mentor K. Sridhar gave me was to listen to more Indian artists if you want to pronounce Sanskrit well. And, listening to Indians express their music gives us as carriers of chants a stronger connection to the spirit and nature of this music which is distinctly non-western. In that spirit, here’s a list of some favorite Indian and Pakistani vocalists to listen to for pronunciation and vocal technique. Listening to one song a day is good, but listening for three hours a day will exponentiate your progress! Check them out on YouTube or Spotify.
- Kishori Amonkar
- Jagjit Singh
- Maithili R Thakur
- Mehdi Hassan
- Swami Haridhos Giri
- Subhadra Desai
- Shruti Sadolikar
- Kaushiki Chakraborty
- M.S. Subbulakshmi
- Sonu Nigam
- Anup Jalota
- Senior Dagar Brothers
If you’re still curious, and want more paths for investigation, here is a list of my favorite Classical Indian musicians who are all masters of tāl and rāga:
- K. Sridhar: sarod
- Bismillah Khan: shennai
- Nikhil Banerjee: sitar
- Zakir Husain: tabla
- Hariprasad Chaurasia: flute
- Senior Dagar Brothers: vocals
- Tyagaraja: Composer
- Ali Akbar Khan: sarod
- Ravi Shankar: sitar