Writings about Music

Seeds from Uday and Robindro

Uday Shankar

"He moves on the stage like a semi-divine being. Believe me, there are still some beautiful things left in this world." - James Joyce


Uday Shankar came before his younger brother, Robindro, bringing Indian classical music to the West. Their father, Shyam, was also an extraordinarily creative and intellectual force.

Uday’s focus was Indian dance, including musicians, of course, and they toured Europe and America beginning in the thirties. Robindro was both a dancer and musician for these tours, changing his name to Ravi at the age of 21.

Here is a recording I came across today of Raga Malkauns from a concert Uday gave here in 1937.




Coincidentally, my new album, Tunis Phantom, features a composition inspired by Malkauns titled Stars Blossom. Uday’s version is rhythmic in nature, while mine is more Alap, meaning "Touch A Color".



Earlier, my Astral Palace album from 1999 was also inspired by Malkauns, beginning with Alap, and moving to Jor, meaning "Momentum", and Jhala, meaning "Sparkling". 

Alap (00.00)

Jor (45.10)

Jhala (55.14)



Michael Robinson with Meruvina (Beverly Hills, California 1991) (photo by Gabrielle Longhi)


Here is the complete recording of Uday's company.



And here is the title composition from the Tunis Phantom album, including much use of skin drums beginning with the Three Gats.

Alap (00.00)

First Gat (11.13)

Second Gat (21.11)

Third Gat (30.11)



Prior to viewing this photo today, I had not known that Uday knew George Harrison, who I had the pleasure of meeting in Lahaina, introduced by Bob Longhi at his magical restaurant, Longhi's, on Saturday evening, January 27, 1990.


George Harrison and Uday Shankar


During our long conversation, which included a musical interlude - George singing Raga Charukeshi for me - he astutely intuited that Robinson was not the original name. My family name was changed from Rabinovitz before I was born by my grandparents after escaping to America from a perilous life in Russia.

- Michael Robinson, April 2019, Los Angeles


© 2019 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


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