A word to the instrumentation

Kirtan drummerAlthough kirtan, as a technology, has its origins in India, it has never been my intent that this music be fully Indian in its sound or feel. For this reason, I have partnered with Shoshana Jedwab, a Jewishly-learned, primal percussionist who specializes in African drums. I also decided that I did not want guitar to be part of the sound, even though I am a decent guitarist myself, not to mention the fact that our music director is a true master. I had heard that the registers of a viola matched particularly well with those of the harmonium. This, super-added to the fact that the viola has always been my favorite instrument in a string quartet, led me to letting viola lend this album its distinctive sound.

Kirtan violinistFinally, in the process of mixing the CD, we did apply some editing techniques. Most of the slow “om-ing” introductions were shortened. In particular, I opted to cut out repetitions on some of the tracks. On the one hand, I sometimes wanted the music, qua CD, to get to the point more quickly; on the other hand, I also wanted it to be as pleasurable a home listening experience as possible for those who might still be unaccustomed to the meditative, constant and droning repetition of bhakti yoga (kirtan). There were also some spatial dimensions added to the sound, the mysteries of which I leave to the master engineers involved.

Kirtan PosseIn short, every effort was made to convey the live energy of that evening, generated by a large community having a transformative experience. Except for the fifth track, Lecha Dodi, no major effects were added. In this particular instance, we decided to have some fun — as well as give the listener a break half way through the album — by adding slide guitar (played by Elijah Tucker), as well as by putting the harmonium on phaser and adding some choice delay on the vocals.