Bharat Ratna (India's highest civilian award) Ravi Shankar (April 7, 1920 - December 11, 2012) was an Indian sitar player, teacher and composer, widely regarded as India's most important musician and respected for his virtuoso playing. After years of intensive musical study, he set up schools of Indian music, founded the National Orchestra of India, and in the mid-1950s became the first Indian instrumentalist to undertake an international tour. He found himself in demand in the West as a performer and teacher in all areas of music - from the Edinburgh International Festival to the jazz and rock worlds. George Harrison of The Beatles was one of his pupils. He has written several film scores, the most notable being for Satyajit Ray's trilogy, "Apu".
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He is name-checked on the cover of "Freak Out!" (1966) under the heading "These People Have Contributed Materially In Many Ways To Make Our Music What It Is. Please Do Not Hold It Against Them". Nodu C. Mullick, his tamboura player in pre-Beatles era is also name-checked on the cover of "Freak Out!"; see also: Chatur Lal, his tabla player (also name-checked on the cover of "Freak Out!").
In an interview for Guitarist magazine ("Unholy Mother", published June 1993) FZ said: "I think my playing is probably more derived from the folk music records that I heard; Middle Eastern music, Indian music, stuff like that. For years I had something called Music On The Desert Road, which was an album with all kinds of different ethnic music from the Middle East. I used to listen to that all the time - I liked that kind of melodic feel. I listened to Indian music, Ravi Shankar and so forth, before we did the 'Freak Out!' album. The idea of creating melody from scratch based on an ostinato or single chord that doesn't change - that was the world that I felt most comfortable with. If you listen to Indian classical music, it's not just pentatonic. Some of the ragas that they use are very chromatic, all sustained over a root and a fifth that doesn't change, and by using these chromatic scales they can imply all these other kinds of harmonies. The chords don't change; it's just the listener's aspect that gets to change, based on how the melody notes are driven against the ground bass."