Ravi Shankar In Hollywood 1971 on 2LP
This is a treasure of a recording as it is not only a live recording of a rare morning concert but it was also an "at home" performance Ravi Shankar did for some special friends at his residence on Highland Avenue in Hollywood, California in 1971. It was during this gathering that he spoke about his distress over the plight of the people of East Pakistan (later known as Bangla Desh) in the aftermath of Cyclone Bhola. Being Bengali himself, he talked about wanting to do something to alleviate the suffering. George Harrison, in attendance that day, listened and from those conversations the seed was sown for what would later become the Concert for Bangladesh.
This concert recording is unique musically as it is historically. The first piece is a beautiful raga composed by Ravi called "Parameshwari." The inspiration for this Raga goes back to Chengali, a little village near Kolkata. During the filming of his autobiographical film Raga, Ravi traveled to Chengali in the morning sometime in March 1968. While riding in the car, he conceived the nucleus of a melodic form that he later developed and called Kameshwari. By using the old Murchana (scale-wise progression) and Swara Bheda system (getting different ragas by changing the Sa or Do), he discovered three more ragas at the heart of Kameshwari, and "Parameshwari" was one of them.
The other two are Gangeshwari and Rangeshwari. "Parameshwari" has flashes of known ragas Bageshri, Bhairavi and Bilaskhani Todi but it is pure Ravi. A raga is not merely a cluster of notes with a theme or a motif. It is bound by some strict principles of its Arohana (ascending) and Avarohana (descending) characteristics. It usually has 5, 6 or 7 notes and sometimes permutations and combinations of these. It should have a Vadi, which is the most important note, and a Sam Vadi, which is usually the 4th or the 5th and note and secondary.
What is core to the raga is its Prana or life and its power to be heard and to be propagated, to instill its emotional message in the heart of as many musicians and listeners as possible. Time will tell the validity of a new raga creation, by its acceptance, popularity and longevity. No matter how beautiful the raga, if you are the only one who can perform it, it is not considered to be of any consequence. Ravi's ragas can be found in many artists' repertoires - that tells you the intensity and emotional effect of his music and his creations.