3 - India Sarod 1

When Oud meets Sarod

🇮🇳 Varanasi, India. On the banks of the Ganges, the Oud encounters its cousin, the Sarod, the most popular and prominent fretless instruments used in Hindustani music.

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The Story

 "भारतीय शास्त्रीय संगीत केवल एक कला नहीं है, बल्कि यह एक विज्ञान और एक दर्शन भी है। यह आध्यात्मवाद और 'नाद ब्रह्म' के सिद्धांत पर आधारित है - जो यह विश्वास है कि ब्रह्मांड ध्वनि से बना है।"

Indian classical music is not only an art but also a science and a philosophy. It is based on spiritualism and the concept of 'Naad Brahma' - the belief that the universe is made of sound.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, renown Sarod master





The train slows down as I stand by the window, eyes wide open, absorbing the first glimmers of this sacred city. The stories I've heard about this mythical city resonate in my mind. Varanasi, the spiritual heart of India, where life and death coexist in harmony, has been calling me for years.


As I step off the train, I'm immediately struck by a symphony of sounds. The honking of rickshaws, the calls of vendors, the sacred chants blending with the sounds of temple bells and the hustle and bustle of busy streets.


I meet Anshuman Maharaj at one of the ghats, those monumental steps that descend in tiers to the banks of the Ganges. I had contacted this Sarod player a few weeks earlier, with a deep desire to discover one of the emblematic instruments of Hindustani music, which curiously resembles the Oud (no frets, similar tuning and playing techniques).


In the days that follow, we spend hours together at his place, exchanging our musical knowledge and life experiences. Anshuman teaches me the basics of Ragas, those Indian melodic structures. One of the essential differences between Indian music and other modal music from the Silk Road countries I travel through is the extreme diversity of modes found here. There are far more modes (the basis of ragas) practiced in India than in the rest of the world!


We choose one: Raag Charukesi. A very melodious raga of Carnatic origin (from South India) that is mostly played in the morning. We decide to shoot a video clip together, in the middle of the Ganges, at sunrise. His friend Ram Mishra, from the famous Mishra gharana (lineage), will accompany us with his tabla.

  • Joueur de sarod assis

The long-awaited day has arrived. We board a small boat, the first light of dawn tinting the sky pink and orange. The light mist floating above the Ganges adds a mystical touch to the atmosphere. Anshuman tunes his sarod while Ram prepares his tabla. I set up the camera on a tripod along with my recorders and we are off for several takes in the early morning. The captured images are breathtaking: the sunrise over the Ganges, the ghats in the background, and us, musicians, immersed in our art...


This video clip is for me much more than a simple musical recording. It's a piece of immersion into a worldview where music, philosophy, and religion unite around sound and vibration.


In Varanasi, I discovered that music is much more than an art. It is a spiritual path, a quest for the soul.

Production and credits

Title: Raag Charukesi 

Sarod: Anshuman Maharaj 

Tabla : Ram Mishra 

Oud: Ibantuta 

Music arrangement: Ibantuta 

Second camera : Wade Evans 

Main camera & editing : Ibantuta 

Field recording: Ibantuta 

Studio recording : Patrick Fischer 

Mixing : Patrick Fischer 

Mastering : Jean-François Hustin 

Label : homerecords.be 

Video production: Ibantuta 

Release year: 2024

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