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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi all

I am new to this forum, and also, quite new to sitar-playing. I came across this book by Ravi Shankar the other day while browsing - the book is called "My Music, My Life". Interestingly enough, besides possessing a biography of Ravi Shankar, the book also comes with a manual on sitar-playing.

I seriously doubt that I can learn sitar just from reading his manual (but that's okay coz I've got a teacher anyway) but I wonder if the book is any good? I am quite foreign to classical Hindustani music and I would really appreciate it if anyone could tell me if the book could be useful for a novice? I would really love to read more about the theories behind Hindustani music coz it's quite foreign to me - I was schooled in Western music so it's pretty different huh?

The book costs US$185 online for the hardcover version so I would like to hear your inputs before buying it.

Thanks and have a great day!
chris thill

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Posts: 87
Reply with quote  #2 
I bought this book from Rain City Music, it's currently listed for $29.95 plus shipping, which is a bit less...

A very good and beautiful book in my opinion, very handsomely laid out, illustrated and printed. You'll learn lots about Ravi Shankar, the story of his life, and also his view of Indian classical music, its history and its future. Which doesn't mean that it's the definitive point of view on this topic. He has a rather "aristocratic" view of Indian culture : the blessed time when rich maharadjahs could sponsor high class culture and high level artists is sadly gone, and today big corporations should take their place and give money (but keep the company logo away from the stage itself). And if it happens, artists should be glad to play the part of "crown jewels", except that the crown is not the king's anymore, but belongs to corporate power.

To say the least, I think that one can disagree (the word "reactionary" comes to mind). On the other hand, we have here a great artist and a sweet and humble man, and the respectful attitude might be to concentrate on his talent and to leave his political views politely uncommented.

As for the sitar part, I wouldn't call it a beginner's manual.

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Posts: 1,937
Reply with quote  #3 
This book just sold on eBay for $9.99 day before yesterday, used, of course. Shop around folks ! ! ! Amazon price - Waaaaa ! ! ! ? ? ? ! ! !

Posts: 205
Reply with quote  #4 
The hardbound edition might be the limited autographed one that Mandala has. Comes with some extra goodies and is limited in numbers.
If you are not looking for a "collectors edition" , the soft bound 2007 edition is well worth it.
The sitar "manual" I found extremely helpful,but I play other instruments so I was able to grasp the concepts that Ravi-ji shows.
He does say that there can be no replacement for a Guru, but he also understands that the traditional Guru/Shishya parampara is
sometimes not possible in the West.

BTW- I got mine from Rain City. Yeah it's not the ebay deal, but Lars treats me well and gives great deals on sitars so I have no problem supporting his (small) business.
Stephen David

Posts: 92
Reply with quote  #5 
I bought a number of books on learning sitar. They all have some value. But playing the various exercises, examples, Pakads, etc frequently sound like you are just doing exercises. They are helpful, but don't necessarily sound that pretty.

When I play the stuff from the back technical sections of "My Music, My Life", it actually sounds like I am making real music. The pieces are generally longer and quite beautiful. Sometimes I can spend all night just going over and over the same section of Ravi's book.

On the other end of the spectrum, Clem Alford's book is absolutely horrid. There is some good information in it, but it is incredibly poorly written, and set to really tiny type. Bad grammar and spelling riddle the book. He uses ICM terms long before they are defined, and sometimes he never defines them. Not good for a newbie!

Alford's book only goes up to "Section 5.5", but the CD it comes with contains material from Sections above 6 that have no matching text. On top of that, the CD only contains two tracks... one containing all the early sections, and one for the later sections. I had to use soundwave editing software to break the two tracks up into individual sections/exercises. I could go on about everything wrong with this book, but I think that's enough. I read good reviews of this book on Amazon, so I thought I would put out a warning here.


Posts: 841
Reply with quote  #6 
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
This book just sold on eBay for $9.99 day before yesterday, used, of course. Shop around folks ! ! ! Amazon price - Waaaaa ! ! ! ? ? ? ! ! !
Heh-heh....guess who bought it? Hi Tony!!

I grew up on this book and from time to time, I pick them up and give them as gifts to a budding player...The new one is way nicer of course, but both are wonderful to have. What would be even better would be his signature upon them, but....

I might mention how I chuckle about seeing these on ebay, going upwards of $125.00 or more, with the usual "RARE!!!!" or "BEATLES!!!" Everything on ebay is rare, hahahaha!!

Everything that is remotely connected to the Beatles, seen or unseen, is automatically triple price, times 25.

Oh,BTW...just saw a photo of Panditji a few minutes ago... he's 91 now and has a white beard! I hardly recognized him!!

Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

Posts: 23
Reply with quote  #7 
Go for the cheaper edition. I've had the original since it came out--god I'm old--and it has been a fine companion through the decades.

Check used on Amazon as well--if you pay over 20 bucks you're paying too much.

As my teacher says, "don't practice the wrong things." And have big fun,

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