Music as Catharsis

Music as Catharsis

Dealing with Nirbhaya incident case compelled Shankar to compose In Jyoti’s Name,a short instrumental piece based on the raga Shree.

On unsaid,the final track of Anoushka Shankar’s new album Traces of You,her half-sister Norah Jones croons,Love wasn’t left unsaid,thank you,that was left unsaid. The album was made as the sisters watched their father,Pandit Ravi Shankar,go to the hospital for the umpteenth time in last few years,and then finally were forced to say goodbye in December last year. The song breaks your heart,as do many others on the 13-track album.

While most of the album can be heard online,there’s nothing quite like a live concert. Shankar continues her world tour with a stop in Mumbai and Delhi,on December 12 and 14 respectively. At the concert in Mumbai there will be a variety of sounds,from Indian classical,flamenco,electronica,jazz,and Western classical music,reconnecting the shared,centuries-old roots of Western and Indian sounds.

Traces of You is being hailed as Anoushka Shankar’s best album yet,and many have called it a dedication to her father,but the sitarist does not agree with the latter. “Two out of the three tracks that Norah has sung on the album are dedications to our father,all of them are not so. The album was made over a year when I was taking my dad to the hospital,and I had to deal with him passing away. These emotions have naturally made it to the album,” she says.

Five days after her father passed away,the Nirbhaya incident took place. “The horror of the incident was keeping me up at nights,” says Shankar. Dealing with this case compelled Shankar to compose In Jyoti’s Name,a short instrumental piece based on the raga Shree. “I chose to use her real name because a change of mindset is needed in the country. She didn’t do anything shameful,the perpetrators of the crime are shameful. Using her name is a statement on empowerment,” says Shankar.


The album ends and begins with a collaboration with Jones. The opening track,called The Sun Won’t Set,is about how hard it was for Shankar to let go of her father. She might be at the Grammys again this year if Pandit Ravi Shankar wins the posthumous award for his album Living Room Sessions: Part 2. “The awards last year were bitter-sweet for me. The Lifetime Achievement Award he won was announced on December 5,and that’s when we took him to the hospital. This year,the nomination reminds me of that time.”

A long-time collaborator,Nitin Sawhney has helped Shankar realise the fullness of her emotions on the tracks. Sawhney too,lost his father during the recording of the album. As Shankar has done in her previous six works,Traces of You has a host of guest performers,among whom are hand drum player,Hang Manu Delago,cellist Ian Burdge,and,of course,Jones. Shankar says,“I almost never collaborate with strangers. All the collaborators on this album are people I have known for a while; it’s been a great experience.”