Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
The whispery vibrato of a melody performed on the bansuri -- a bamboo flute from India -- is enough to send chills down your spine. When that melody is played by Hariprasad Chaurasia, it is taken to another level. Accompanied by the driving pitter-patter of a tabla drum and a backing drone, Hariprasad's twisting sound can be dreamlike, airy or incredibly fast and tense. Practicing for 12 hours a day gave him the mastery over hundreds of North Indian raags -- groupings of notes performed according to complex sets of rules. Collaborations with Shiv Kumar Sharma, a performer of the zither-like santoor, helped establish Hariprasad as a major voice in Indian music. His complete control of scales, repertoire and melody helped make the bansuri a respectable instrument, suitable for performing Indian Classical music -- it had formerly been considered "unclean" because it is played with the lips.