Writings About Music

Driving with Pandit Jasraj

Driving my car on the freeway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Pandit Jasraj, seated next to me, began singing a well-timed midnight raga under the radiance of a full moon - I miss him!

My composition based upon Darbari Kanada was inspired by Pandit Jasraj.


Ananda Tandava, the concluding movement of my composition, The Fiddler of Dooney, is named for the furious dance of bliss performed by Shiva, with melodic invention constructed from an American blues scale with enharmonic tones.


Pandit Jasraj and Michael Robinson


Sagarmatha was also inspired by the sublime music of Pandit Jasraj.


Pandit Jasraj and Michael Robinson


Perhaps my shimmering opening for Darbari Kanada was a subconscious memory of the blazing moon that night inspiring Pandit Jasraj, whose title in India is The Sun of Music, to spontaneously render a full-length Raga Sohini while we sped over the pavement grey. It never occurred to me before!


Here Pandit Jasraj sings to a goddess who is a destroyer of evil.


For those who may be unfamiliar with him, Pandit Jasraj is an artist absolutely on par with Ravi Shankar, as are Shivkumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Bhimsen Joshi, Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain, Anindo Chatterjee, Swapan Chaudhuri and Aashish Khan. These are among the music titans from India whose music I have been fortunate to eat and drink brimming with intellectual and spiritual nourishment.

- Michael Robinson, April 2017, Los Angeles


© 2017 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


*My interpretation of Darbari Kanada (2006) is not a traditional one, including sharing some characteristics related to the santoor in terms of pitch bending and meends. All instrumentalists - I create both the composition and performance - endeavor to utilize the potential virtues of their particular medium. At some point, I may attempt another realization, including special tuning of Rishaba and Komal Gandhara.


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).