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Ali Akbar Khan: Farewell

Ali Akbar Khan: Farewell

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Start the music, then read.

Ali Akbar Khan: Farewell

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/105787620/105786817" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

I'm told he made 95 albums, but I only have three of them. He composed 4,000 tunes; I've probably heard 30 of them, and yet Ali Akbar Khan brought such joy to my life. The song you're hearing is called "Come Back My Love," from a CD called Journey.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan played the sarod, an Indian instrument that's fretless and about the size of a lute. But it has sympathetic strings that make those rich overtones, giving the sarod its deep character.

This week, we lost the world's great sarod player, and one of the most gifted musicians on this planet. According to the Ali Akbar College of Music Web site, Ali Akbar Khan died of kidney failure on June 18. He was 87.

There was a long period in my life when pop music failed me. From the mid-'80s through some of the '90s, the music of Ali Akbar Khan was my music of choice. It is some of the most cinematic music I know, and some of the most emotionally charged instrumental music, as well.

In 1990, a label called Triloka put out Journey, which was full of brilliantly evocative melodies. It's music that's become part of my DNA.

Tonight, I'll listen to Journey in its entirety. Maybe there's an album of his music you'll listen to, also. If so, tell us what that is. Swara Samrat Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, thank you.