Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Me and Hindustani Classical Music

On Friday I attended Music concert in Santacruze,CA. Artists were pandit Shivkumar Sharma on Santoor and Zakir Hussain on Tabla. The theatre was full. It was gratifying that half way round the world from India, in Santacruze ,which is more than Hours drive from Bay Area,the hall was full of young enthusiastic Hindustani Classical music lovers.Indeed future of Indian Classical Music- Hindustani & Carnatic- is good. Panditji played Maru Bihag in Aalap,Jhod,Jhala and in Rupak Taal, followed by semi classical composition in Hansdhwani. With Zakir on Tabla( He is Sachin T of tabla player)it was exhilarating experience.

It took me back in time. Year was most probably 1966-67, I was Medical student in KEM hosp. Mumbai. My roomy Mukul Bodhe had complimentary tkts of Music Festival to be held in Shivaji Mandir,Dadar. They were of the front row and he wanted company to attend the festival.I had interest in the Music but it was primarily Hindi film music. I had not attended any Classic music concert. He bribed me that everyday he would take me to Chinese restaurant for dinner. I was just introduced to Chinese cuisine and for that food I did not mind torture of listening to Classical music for 3 days. That was what I thought, and agreed.

We, Me,Mukul Bodhe,Manerikar and Vasant Kulkarni went to the Music festival.Even today I remember those evenings of Music. I did not and even now cant recognise Sur or Sargam. I can now recognise few Raag. But then i was novice. But Music was sooo spellbinding. Hariprad Chaurasia's Flute, Amjad Ali Khans Sarod, Shiv Kumar sharma's Santoor- which was just introduced to Classical Music and Panditji used to describe the instrument in detail- with Zakir on Tabla. I remember there was Pt. Ravi Shankar with his famous Taal Vadya Kachehri- which was combined playing of Tabla,Mridung and Carnatic music percussion instruments like Ghatam etc. I was hooked on this music.

This was followed by period when I was collecting and recording Classical Music from any source. I had good collection of Tapes which i used to play on my Panasonic Tape Recorder. During my residency from '72 to '76 i had very little time for live music but would start the tape moment i entered my room in the evening and music would play till i fall off to sleep.

One dayin '75 Mr Tillu, Works Manager in Friends factory gave me tape recording of Sitar played by Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan. There was Yaman and Pahadi dhun. I was just captivated by that music and till today Khan Saheb is my most favorite player. Even today when i play his Tilak Kamod, it brings sukun and peace to my mind.

In '75 I got engaged to K. She is from Gwalior and has learned Vocal and Sitar.She used to sing in Collage Day Programme during college and Medical student days. In our final meeting, before our engagement was finalised, my future FIL asked me whether I liked Classical music? He was relieved to hear that I enjoyed classical music. So when I went to Gwalior after my engagement, all the evenings would start with Classical music being played on his Stereo Music System and would be in background till 1 am or so. There I was introduced to Vocal Music.

Gwalior has 'Tansen Music Festival'. It is held near Miya Tansen's tomb. Its open air festival and artists are not paid. They attend to pay homage to Great Musician. Usually 2-3 artists play/sing on particular evening. Main artiste would start at 11 pm or mid night and may continue till early morning. It is recorded by AIR for archival purpose. This recorded music is freely available in Gwalior. Listening to great artists in that Mahol is altogether different experience.Even the recorded music is great as it captures essence of Hindustani Classical music. There is no time limit. Artiste can explore a raag and can transcend. can move to other raag and finally come back to original raag. That freedom to explore and transcend is hallmark of H C music. Thats why a particular raag would sound different when played by different artists and sometimes by the same artist from its earlier or recorded version. At the top of the pyramid are Vocalist.

Then there is Semi Classical like Dadra,Thumri,Chaiti,Hori, Tappa, and even Gazal. They are more famous and enjoyed by janta than typical raag(Bada Khayal). Like India, its music is also huge, varied,different and unique.Once you start enjoying it, there is no limit.-P.K.

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