Shyamal Sinha is a man of diverse talents and consummate artistic skill. He is an accomplished master of the sarod, one of the most difficult of India’s musical instruments, yet music is not his primary occupation in life. By profession, Dr. Sinha is a specialized medical research scientist in the field of mental retardation and has his laboratories at Central Wisconsin Colony and Training School in Madison. He is also a member of the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Medical School. His research efforts are concentrated in virology and related aspects of mental retardation.
Shyamal Sinha was a musician long before he became a scientist, as music has always been for him one of life’s lasting passions. He was born in 1927 in Khulna, Bengal, into a Zaminder (landlord) family. Since boyhood he has been a dedicated student of Indian music, and he studied sarod for many years in Bengal, stimulated by a cultural environment which encouraged a deep involvement in artistic training. He came to the United States in 1950 where he was afforded further opportunities to study and perform. He has given concerts on the campuses of many colleges and universities around the country, and has performed at such places as the Indian Embassy in Washington as well as on radio and television.
Dr. Sinha plays the sarod with a smooth sensitivity and well developed agility and makes it seem disarmingly easy. His performance is clear evidence of the rigorous training program he has steadfastly maintained over the years, as he practices a minimum of two hours every day. He says he cherishes each daily practice period as a chance to get away from the pressures and tensions of the workaday world, and the music helps renew his spirit and bring back a sense of peace, and tranquility. This record happily allows Dr. Sinha to share with the listener such an opportunity to enjoy a few moments of the beauty and serenity which these ragas evoke.
More meditative music
Celestial Soul Portrait
Master Wilburn Burchette
Following are a few note-worthy attributes of raga. These are taken for granted by the Indian musician, but may seem curious to the uninitiated.
- A raga may encompass more or less than one octave
- All ragas end on c, whether ascending or descending, but may begin on some other tone. The term “tonic”, however, invariably means C.
- Although the note is called C, the various melodic instruments, especially the SAROD (Sah-róhd), SITAR (sī-táhr) and the TAMBOURA (tahm-bóo-rah) may tune to a sound which is above or below Concert (piano) C.
- While many ragas are comprised of seven different tones plus the octave (as is the case with the major and minor scales of Western music) many contain less, while most contain more.
- The ascending melodic form of a raga is customarily different from the descending form.
- The tonal sequence of the scale may be such that while moving upward some tones are actually lower in pitch than the ones which then follow. The reverse is also true; in the descending scale some tones may be higher in pitch than the tones which precede them.
- An essential element of the raga may be the consistent accentuation of one or more of its tones.