L Shankar, and his double violin

L. Shankar

is one of a family of musicians, of which

L. Subramaniam

is the best-known.

However, I was privileged to listen, when I was young to a 78 rpm record (yes, called “vinyl” these days) of an album of his, called “Who’s To Know”, where he played on his own invention, the double violion

The Wiki entry says, “During the 1980s, Shankar recorded periodically as a leader, doing both jazz-based material and Indian classical music. His 1980 release of the album Who’s To Know on ECM introduced the unique sound of his own invention, the ten-string, stereophonic double violin. This instrument, designed by Shankar and built by noted guitar maker Ken Parker, covers the entire orchestral range, including double bass, cello, viola and violin. He has recently developed a newer version of his instrument which is much lighter than the original.”

Here’s a video that shows him playing this wondrous invention of his:

However, this seems to be more of virtuoso playing, with a lot of riffs and gymnastics. It does not bring out the extraordinary range of the instrument, its honeyed tones, or the skill of the mastery of the player, with melody being the go-by for the mathematical swara-prasthArA.

Here’s an interview of him on Sun TV (quite recent, 17th Feb 2014.)

He talks about himself and his experience. A hackneyed interview format, but still, very informative.

My favourites are the album, “Who’s To Know”, from which you can hear an excerpt

here

(rAgam: hEmavathi.)

And this piece where the rAgA AbhEri is taken up for a rAgam thAnam pallavi (er, it’s nearly one hour long!)

However, the second piece is finished rather abruptly at the rAga AlApanA stage.

The visuals, too, were very interesting for me to see, being clips from all over India.

Such wonderful creativity…I salute this great musician.

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