Global Hit: N. Ravikiran

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VOX: "He is a legend." "He's very, very famous."

But this is no rock concert. The seats have been pushed away. Women wearing elegant saris and men with long silk shirts over their jeans are sitting on the floor. The star of the show sits cross legged on the stage.

WOMAN: "Ravikiran is one of the most famous players for chitravina, his music's just very melodious."

Ravikiran's chitravina looks something like a lute, but it's the size of a cello. It lies on its back, strings facing the ceiling while Ravikiran skims a slide down its long, fretless neck. Think Hawaiian guitar or dobro, with a hefty dose of sitar.

Ravikiran's father and grandfather were masters of the chitravina. By age two Ravikiran recognized more than 300 complex Indian melodic scales, or ragas. Now 39, his music is revered by Indians worldwide. He says the chitravina is well suited for Carnatic, or southern Indian music - which emphasizes voicelike oscillations.

RAVIKIRAN: "We really oscillate some notes in a very unique manner so you can almost vocalize when you play the instrument."

Ravikiran is credited with the revival of this ancient instrument. From his home bases in Southern India and Houston, Texas he travels worldwide. His concerts are often sponsored by chapters of a society that promotes Indian classical music. Known as spicmacays, these groups on college campuses across the U.S. are devoted to maintaining traditional culture for young Indians here.

RAVIKIRAN: "I've been playing for spicmacays since 1980s. Normally my strategy is to talk to the audience so they can understand what we are doing and appreciate it better."

RAVIKIRAN LECTURE: "Chitravina is totally fretless. There are six strings on the top and three on the side�."

Ravikiran also mentors young musicians in the tones and rhythms of Carnatic music. For today's concert at the Stanford spicmacay, he's accompanied by a young Indian on the mridangam, a double-sided drum, and by a 17 year-old violinist who's studying bioengineering at Stanford.

Nikhil Ravi is the president of Stanford's spicmacay. As the concert ended, he said the dynamic between the three musicians was great. As for hearing Ravikiran play the chitravina.

RAVI: "It was awesome, totally amazing. It's actually not very well known, and there are few artists who perform it nowadays. So we are very lucky to have him."

For The World, this is Lonny Shavelson in Palo Alto, California.