Raj Rangayan &
Utpal Mazumdar,
In Tune With You
(self-produced, 1998)
Just in Time ... Just for You!
(self-produced, 1998)

These two CDs are intended for meditation and relaxation, featuring performances on Eastern Indian musical instruments, and they succeed in that the music is soothing without being dull or soporific.

The tracks on both CDs are based on ragas, the musical structures basic to classical Eastern Indian music. The ragas are intended to tie into one's moods and feelings at each time of the day, providing just the right inspiration or refreshment at just the right time.

Rangaraj (Raj) Rangayan performs on bansuri (bamboo flute) on both CDs; Utpal Mazumdar plays tabla, drums of India, on both and pahkawaj, a barrel shaped tunable drum not as commonly used. On some of the tracks, the tanpura, a four-stringed drone played by Sharmila Mazumdar, adds a different dimension to the sound.

Rangayan's flute playing is clear and sweet, and the melodies often feature rippling runs as well as pure sustained notes, with good intonation of both high and low notes. The underlying drum rhythms ground the soaring melodies without tethering them unduly which makes them more in tune with meditative purposes. Overall, the music is appealing, although it is hard to say whether it is really in tune with the various points of an individual's day -- that would be a subjective determination

The liner notes list the raga used for each track as well as identifying the percussive rhythm pattern; the information is brief but useful, especially for some forms of meditation, and adds to the listening experience for those unfamiliar with the classical music of India.

Both CDs will certainly enhance meditation, screening out distractions and providing a background which doesn't put the listener to sleep. They work well simply as background music for the same reasons, whether one is at the computer, relaxing in the tub or having a quiet conversation. Whatever your inclination, these could be just the tunes for you.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]