Balakrishna of Travancore, Ragas: Songs of India

Amelia Raitt

By Amelia Raitt

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The raga is essentially a set of notes upon which an Indian singer bases a melody. From here, though, the possibilities are endless. Improvisation is required — and a singer's reputation lives and dies on their ability to acrobatically jump from note to note. Balakrishna of Travancore showcases his abilities on this 1957 Smithsonian recording with excellent accompaniment on sitar and tabla from Anand Mohan. Ragas: Songs of India is, as it states, an overview of many different ragas, each with their own particular character. Undoubtedly Moses Asch insisted upon it. He was the founder of Folkways Records and was tireless in his quest to record as many different folk traditions as possible. Without him, these rare recordings would probably be worth hundreds of dollars today.