Sivakumar Sarma was born on January 3rd, 1938 in Jammu and Kashmir, India. Sarma’s father, Uma Dutt Sharma, was a singer and began teaching Sivakumar how to sing at an early age. At age five, Sarma was also taught by his father how to play the Tabla. Then, at the age of thirteen, Sarma began to play the Santoor. The Santoor would become Sarma’s primary instrument and main focus. The Santoor, a traditional instrument of Iran, was never used in Indian classical music prior to Sarma’s works. Even in Jammu and now modern-day Kashmir, the dulcimer Santoor served only as a folk instrument. Sarma was the first Indian musician to begin to use the Santoor in classical settings. He is often credited with being not only one of the first Indian musicians to do so but also to popularize the Santoor in India. Sarma’s discography is enormous and contains varying types of the composer’s Santoor music. Works include solo records, collaborations with other Indian classical greats, and music for Hindi films. One of the great examples of Sarma’s solo works is Santur – Inde Du Nord. When the record itself was first recorded and released is a mystery. The well known French label Occora reissued the album first in 1983 and again in 1986. Whatever the case may be, Santur – Inde Du Nord is an album full of beauty. The record can be best characterized as a collection of hypnotic ragas. At any given moment there can be a dozen intricacies occurring at the same time due to the percussive nature of the Satoor. Yet, at the same time, the entire album is soothing and begs for the listener to focus in. Samra is still active today and since 1996 has performed with his son, Rahul, who is also a Satoor player.
Listen to track number one, “Raga Rageswari,” below and download the full album. Enjoy!