George Harrison : Chants of India

Chants of India

'Chants of India' is an album George Harrison produced for Ravi Shankar in the mid-'90s. It was probably one of the last projects he completed in his lifetime. George always seemed to have lots of time for other people's work, as though he didn't especially enjoy the spotlight but liked being a helper or group member. So while Paul was off recording 'Flaming Pie', I guess 'Chants of India' is what George was doing. Mind you, nothing against Paul. It's just interesting to look at their different approaches and the projects they took on.

Anyway, fans of George and/or Ravi might like to find the album, along with the other albums they worked on together back in the '70s. 'Chants of India' is not strictly traditionalist chanting, but it's mainly sacred Hindu chants set to new music. The material is treated luxuriantly and some of the arrangements are very intense and arresting. Track 4, Asato Ma, is one of my favorites--a powerful orchestral arrangement and beautiful chant. As it translates, roughly, from the Sanskrit:

"Lead from darkness to light
From the real to the unreal
From death to immortality.
Peace, peace, and perfect peace."

(The ending being the traditional "Om Shanti" coda). This album is definitely re 2000 commended for people who are interested in deep spirituality and/or world music. If you can at least tolerate sacred music from the Eastern traditions (which I'd hope most people can), and are interested in different things, I'd give it it a go. It's at least something new and different. For a sample of what it's like, one of the selections from the album, Sarve Shaam, was used to open the Concert for George and can be heard from that album or film.

The other albums George and Ravi collaborated on were Shankar Family and Friends and Music Festival From India, from the 1970s. I think they're all available on CD now. Look for their "Collaborations" box set. All of the albums are well-recommended for those interested in music from around the world and certainly for Shankar/Harrison dedicated fans.

'Irregardless' is not a word

Re: Chants of India

Great post and these are three great albums!

Re: Chants of India

Thanks for your praise. I had almost forgotten making this post. It's nice when you know someone reads these things, even so long later.

Om Shanti