Biography of David Courtney

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David Courtney is a writer, musician, and teacher of Indian music.  He is also a progressive political activist.

His musical activities began in 1972 when he first took up the tabla.  He first studied pakhawaj (an ancient barrel shaped drum) under the famous Zakir Hussain at the Ali Akbar College of Music.  He then moved to India and spent a number of years learning tabla under the late Ustad Shaik Dawood Khan of Hyderabad.  He is also well versed in dilruba, and esraj.  For these instruments, he received his initial training under Sayed-ur-Rahman of Hyderabad.  He has also received training in santur under the late Hasaan Mohd., and sarangi under Mohd. Aslam Khan.  He has performed extensively on stage, TV, disk, and radio, in India, Europe and the United States.  Along with his wife, he composed the theme music for several radio and TV programs.  He has accompanied many great musicians including Ashish Khan, Lakshmi Shankar, and Pandit Jasraj.  He was also active in the fusion group "Vani"

He is well versed in the academic side of music.  During the 80s he received great acclaim in academic circles for his pioneering work in the application of computers to Indian music.  This work is found in his dissertation "A Low Cost System for the Computerization of North Indian Classical Music".  He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subject of Indian music including, Introduction to Tabla, Elementary North Indian Vocal, Learning the Tabla, Fundamentals of Tabla, Advanced Theory of Tabla, Manufacture and Repair of Tabla, Learning the Sitar, The Music of South Asia, and Focus on the Kaidas of Tabla.  His articles have appeared in "Modern Drummer" and "Percussive Notes".  Along with his wife Chandra, he was given an award of recognition for outstanding contributions to the arts by the American Telugu Association.  In 2009, he and his wife were designated as "Cultural Jewels of India" by the Indian Cultural Centre of Houston.  In 2015 He and Chandra were both given the prestigious "Sunshine Award".

He is very active today in musical activities.  He has several CDs to his credit and has performed for several films.  He is also very active in producing and directing musical videos, some of which have won international awards.

David is also politically active.  He spent a number of years engaged in street-level activism, then moved into the Democratic Party.  From there he shifted to the Green Party, where he made two unsuccessful bids for the Texas State Senate (2012, 2014).  He also served two years as the Treasurer for the Texas State Green Party.

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Interviews from the "Tablasite"


Wikipedia Article



Selected Videos - (Bio)







Selected Videos - (Performances)





Selected Videos - (Instruction)









Selected Videos - (Campaign)



© 1998 - 2018 David and Chandrakantha Courtney

For comments, corrections, and suggestions, kindly contact David Courtney at [email protected]