Eastern music relates to KSU’s Western audience

Carissa Bowlin

Ustad Nishat Khan, one of the foremost sitar musicians in the world, plays a Tsunami Relief Benefit Concert in the Ludwig Recital Hall in the Music and Speech Building yesterday. The music is of the Northern Indian tradition.

Credit: Andrew popik

Music is an outlet for many, but for some it is a way of life. World famous Indian sitarist, Ustad Nishat Khan, graced the Ludwig Recital Hall stage last night at the Tsunami Relief Benefit Concert: Music from India.

Khan was in India when the tsunami disaster occurred and is glad to use his talents to help everyone affected by the disaster.

“It is a very beautiful moment when a whole country comes together,” Khan said, “and it is a very emotional and a powerful experience for me to be part of relief efforts.

“There are a lot of tsunami efforts being made, this is just a drop in the ocean.”

Khan said he was excited to include Kent State in his travels and would love to plan a trip back.

“I’ve heard wonderful things about Kent State,” Khan said. “There’s a lot of great energy here. The students are very open, and the faculty is great.”

Indian music has become popular among western audiences because it is easy to relate to. In many ways Indian music can be compared to jazz because both include improvisation. Instead of basing the improvisation on a harmonic chord structure, the music of India is based on a melodic line, called a raag.

Raags are different variations of a seven-tone scale. There are raags written for every occasion.

“When people listen to Music from India, they should have an open mind and heart and embrace what is being created,” Khan said. “Music from India is a very particular language. It’s very accessible to the western world.”

Khan’s 400-year family heritage of Indian music on the sitar is responsible for the music’s future.

“We are responsible for all the sitar music that you see anyone play,” Khan said. “Anything from adding strings to new techniques to musical subjects.”

Contact performing arts reporter Carissa Bowlin at [email protected].