Featured Image


RAGAS & POLYPHONY: New works for multi-track Indian vocals, just intonation piano and tabla by Michael Harrison

RAGAS & POLYPHONY: New works for multi-track Indian vocals, just intonation piano and tabla by Michael Harrison

New works by Michael Harrison for CD with Mashkoor Ali Khan (Indian vocals), Anindo Chatterjee (tabla) and Harrison (just intonation piano)


November 16, 2016New version of an old Tarana features my collaboration with Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan

Posted by: Michael Harrison

Tarana features Mashkoor Ali Khan singing one of his rare and old traditional taranas in raga Yaman Kalyan. He and guest vocalist Daisy Press also sing composed taans, harmony parts and countermelodies, with tabla played by Anindo Chatterjee’s disciple Meghashyam Keshav, just intonation piano and tanpura played by me, and Western production techniques by Chris Botta. Although Indian classical music usually includes a lot of improvisation, this work is completely notated; yet the tightly structured 6-minute work allows for the music to come alive. Because Ustad is a master of a centuries old aural tradition, he has never needed to read music. Therefore we developed most of his parts based on things that he already knew, with countermelodies and harmony parts that he learned by ear.

To provide a little background for my work on this project, since 1978 I have studied and practiced singing Indian ragas on an almost daily basis, first as a disciple of the late Pandit Pran Nath, and his two foremost Western disciples, composers La Monte Young and Terry Riley, and since 1999 as a disciple of Mashkoor Ali Khan. When I was first getting started, La Monte encouraged me to study and practice the music in its pure form rather than creating hybrids. Whether consciously or not, I took his advice to the extreme. As a result, although practicing Indian music has profoundly influenced my life and work from the beginning, it has only been the past five years that I have directly used materials from the genre in my original works. La Monte’s advice enabled me to dive much deeper into the music; and decades later, with relatively equal training and background in both Western and Indian classical music, it comes naturally for me to merge elements from these diverse traditions. As a result over the past few years I have shifted my riyaz (daily practice) from singing with the tanpura, to singing and playing ragas on the just intonation piano. It is incredibly rewarding to start each day exploring the merging of the two musical traditions that I love best. Now I am more excited than ever about the possibilities, and it is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to collaborate with my Ustad!

Share Your Updated Project


Composer/pianist Michael Harrison has been a serious practitioner of North Indian classical music since 1979 and a disciple of the great Indian vocalist Mashkoor Ali Khan since 1999. This project will be the first of its kind by commissioning Harrison to compose new works for a CD and performances with Mashkoor Ali Khan, Anindo Chatterjee (tabla), and Harrison (piano and tanpura). The works will be composed using the basic structures and materials of Indian classical music including ragas (melodic archetypes), talas (rhythmic cycles), alap (non-rhythmic introduction and development), bandish (traditional vocal compositions), gamaks (melodic embellishments), taans (virtuosic riffs), and highly stylized structured improvisation. However, by adding pre-composed elements of multi-track Indian vocals and just intonation piano, the Western hallmarks of harmony and polyphony will also become integral elements of the music.

Harrison, Khan, and Chatterjee will give numerous performances before recording a CD featuring the commissioned works with Grammy-winning classical producer Adam Abeshouse. The American Academy of Indian Classical Music is sponsoring the recording and will cover all expenses associated with the production of the album.

Comments (SHOW▼)

Leave a Reply

Project Details

Start and End Date

05/01/2017 - 07/15/2018


New York, New York

Updates (1 RECENT)

Last Updated November 16, 2016

Follow and Share this Project

Project Created By

Organizer Image

Michael Harrison

Yonkers, New York

Michael Harrison Composer/pianist Michael Harrison is a protégé of La Monte Young and Terry Riley, and has been called “an American Maverick” by Philip Glass. The New York Times wrote of his recent collaboration with Grammy-winning vocal project Roomful of Teeth, “Harrison’s ‘Just Constellations’… proved particularly arresting, a celestial soundscape of gorgeous harmonies… the notes...


Adam Abeshouse

Pelham, New York

Role: Producer and engineer

Anindo Chatterjee

Brooklyn, New York

Role: Tabla virtuoso

American Academy of Indian Classical Music

New York, New York

Role: Co-sponsor and funding for recording expenses, musician and producer fees

Mashkoor Ali Khan

Kolkata, INDIA

Role: Indian classical vocalist

See All Projects