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Rhinegold Education Key Stage 3: Lesson 2

Musicroom is dedicated to helping you provide your child with a rich and rounded education, even during school closures. Every week we’ll be providing free outstanding, fun and rewarding music lessons for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 that can be taught at home. Simple to use and no musical expertise is required!
From Rhinegold Education, this week’s Key Stage 3 (ages 7-11) lesson celebrates the centenary of legendary musician Ravi Shankar!
Learning Objective: listen to, review and improvise using some features of North Indian Classical music.
Length: 45 minutes.

1. This week is the centenary of legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar!

100 years ago, on April 7, 1920, Ravi Shankar was born. Ravi Shankar was a sitar player. He was one of the most influential musicians in the world – George Harrison (of the Beatles) called him ‘the godfather of world music’. Watch this clip, which explains why Ravi Shankar was so famous. Take brief notes as you watch.

Using your notes, explain in your own words why Ravi Shankar was so famous.

2. Watch this short clip of Ravi Shankar performing during his last concert with his daughter, Anoushka:


3. Let’s learn about Raga!

To understand the music of Ravi Shankar, you need to know something about raga – basically, the music Ravi Shankar played. In this clip, Anoushka Shankar talks about the North Indian concept of ‘Raga’ (also written as ‘rag’ and ‘raag’). As you listen, decide which of these statements is true:
a) Raga is a type of musical scale
b) Ragas have fixed patterns within them
c) Raga is a melody form
d) Raga is the same as a mode
e) Ragas can have different ascending and descending scales
f) Ragas have different moods
g) Ragas are associated with different days of the week

4. Anoushka Shankar is an important modern-day sitar player. Listen to the first 2 minutes or so of this clip of her playing Rag Jog (pronounced Joge). Try to find a good place to pause the clip!

5. Using any pitched instrument, learn to play the notes of Rag Jog:

As will be obvious, the notes of the ascending scale are not quite the same as the notes of the descending scale!

5b. The identity of Rag Jog also comes from the melodic patterns you hear when musicians perform this Raga. Here are some typical patterns used in Rag Jog; can you play them?

6. Now watch the entire clip of Anoushka Shankar playing Rag Jog and answer these questions.

Take your time; you can rewind the clip until you are sure to get the correct answers.
a) What instrument is the drummer playing: tabla, tampura, dholack or shehnai?
b) At 0.36 seconds, Anoushka Shankar uses one of the typical patterns, above – which pattern?
c) Shortly afterwards she uses the same pattern again. Does this happen at 0.51, 1.07 or 1.20?
d) What happens at around 1.28?
e) What is the drummer doing at 1.51?
f) Describe Anoushka’s playing from 2.51-3.21
g) From 4.20 she starts to explore the sitar’s high notes. At what point does she reach the highest note (D) – 4.28, 4.30 or 4.34?
h) What happens at 4.55 and again at 5.38?
i) At 5.40 Sanjeev Shankar (not a relative of Anoushka) starts playing. What is the name of his instrument? (CLUE: it’s one of those listed in question 6a; you’ll see it if you click on the links).
j) Describe the music between 5.54-6.39.
k) At what point does the music end?
How did you get on?! Listen to the track below for the answers.


7. Let’s improvise!

Using whatever instrument you have, improvise with the notes of Rag Jog. Listen to the audio clip below for guidance on how to do this and if you like, use this tampura drone:

You can find more information about Ravi Shankar here.
Information about the tanpura can be found here.
You can watch an interview with Anoushka, in which she talks about making a recording with her sister, Norah Jones, her father’s death and her childhood here.
By Tim Cain for Rhinegold Education

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