AAK: He could play about 200 different instruments himself.
SH: Two hundred? Are there that many Indian instruments?
AAK: No, but he had left Bengal and studied Western classical music in Calcutta, so he knew things like saxophone, trumpet, the double bass, bagpipes....
SH: Bagpipes? In India?AAK: Yes, even bagpipes.
SH: I have heard from other noted Indian musicians that it is common for aspiring musicians to do a kind of musical retreat -- a chilla -- where one spends forty days and nights in isolation, doing nothing but playing. Did you ever do that?
AAK: I did not need to. My father made me practice at least twelve hours a day for twenty years....
SH: Do you think if we could get, say, the leaders of India and Pakistan, or even of Israel and Palestine, together and force them to really listen to the right music they might see the importance of peace, and work things out?
AAK: Yes. I really do. And why not try this? I think even politicians who are also musicians are going to be more concerned with peace. Look at Clinton, his attitude to the world was different than those who came after him, or others. He had a tune in him.SH: That's one way of looking at him (laughter).
SH: Do you like other kinds of music besides what you play?
AAK: Yes, I like Western classical music very much -- Bach and Beethoven. And sometimes country music.
SH: Country? You mean like Hank Williams and Willie Nelson and all that?AAK: Yes. I like the melodies.
(Ali Akbar Khan, interviewed by Steve Heilig)