My favourite instrument- tanpura

I know, many of my readers would have already jumped to the conclusion that flute is my favourite instrument. Well, not so true. This is realized when I really gave it a thought. The general observation is, if you ask several people which their favourite instrument is, and what makes it so dear to them, you will receive quite surprising answers. I have this habit of asking people their favourite instrument. My general observation is, it takes quite a long time to get accustomed to the sound of any particular instrument, to understand intricacies of it. So, many of my friends hate the sound of Sitar, reason being they do not understand which strokes are to be listened to and which are just supporting strokes. If one fails to understand the same, the performance will sound like just noise and nothing else. Conclusion is, in order to appreciate any instrument; you should listen to it for quite some time before commenting over it.

If you ask me, what my favourite instrument is, the answer which I give may sound funny and even stupid. My favourite instrument is tanpura, the instrument which is hardly capable of making three notes out of it. Though tanpura is a weird answer, I certainly have some reasons behind making it my first choice. The first thing is, you can listen to tanpura for infinitely long time. In case of other instruments, let them be extremely melodies and skilfully played. Still, after some time, you will get bored of the sound. In case of a tanpura, you won’t get bored. On the other hand, listening to a well tunes tanpura can make your whole lifestyle melodious. The sound of tanpura never irritates you.

Another interesting point is, in case of other instruments, the artists try to show their knowledge, talent and creativity while playing the instrument. Tanpura is the only instrument where the player has no role to play. So, the one who plays a tanpura is not trying to show his talent and skills. In other words, tanpura can be played in a ego less mode, without any interference of the person playing it. For this reason the sound of a tanpura is closest to me.

Apart from the above mentioned reasons, listening to a tanpura carefully can help the seekers of music. It is the very foundation of any musical performance. Many of the great experts in field of music judge an artist just by observing his way of tuning a tanpura. This instrument is very humble, not dominating it over other instruments. Irony is, there is hardly any artist who can sing or play his instrument without a tanpura, which in itself speaks out the greatness of this instrument.


Is Pune that bad?

Every person loves the place where he has been brought up. All the humans love their native places. People in life shift to better cities but still, they miss something which they find at their native place only.

This is true with almost all of people. We wrongly judge cities due to attachments, emotions and sentiments. I have lived in near about dozens of cities. I have no native place of mine. I have been a wandering fellow. 3 Years is the maximum period which I have spent in any city, excluding Pune where I have beeb staying now since 4 years.

I have right to anwer this question correctly. Because, I was a stranger in every city. I was just a temporary visitor of all the cities in which I lived. It is a trend in the Nagpur region to blame Pune and people from Pune city. They can blame anything in Pune.

I today start thinking about what each city in which I lived gave me. One thing for sure is, everywhere you get same, you take differently an different places. I have been thinking so steadily over the topic but still, Pune wins my heart.

Why? Am I being biased? To be honest, I am not.

In all other cities, I stayed for about 17 years. I could never hear live Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shivkumar Sharma, Jasraj, Zakir Hussain and such musicians. In Pune, they come many times an year to pour out the joy. I could read books of Mangesh Padgaonkar in Nagpur, but in Pune, I got an opportunity to be with him for one night and a day and have dinner and lunch.

I get all the books I want in Pune. In other cities in which I lived, I do not think there is any possibility. I got such friends in Pune, those are 30 years older to me, very busy and very successful and yet, they leave everything aside when I visit them and even come on a hill nearby to listen to my flute.

Pune is superb.


Nature is the key to arts

A few days ago, I was invited in a conference which was organised to think upon today’s youth and how to reach to them through lecture series. In this conference, one session was devoted to tell whatever you feel in connection with today’s youth. Being one of the speakers, I chose a very interesting topic named why youth is not being attracted towards authentic things which dominantly include arts.

The main point of focus was, human mind always looks out for melody. It is melody that we are searching. Arts appeals us because it has melody. The more melodies an art is, more people appreciate it. Of course, my point ahead was why youth is not getting attracted to the arts.

The question only can be solved by the concept of melody. If a child is taught to observe melody from very childhood, he will search it in arts. He will be searching melody  in dance, music, poetry or paints. Now, the question which stands in front of all of us is how to introduce this melody and hence arts to the children. The obvious thing is, nature is home to all sorts of melodies. Melody can be very easily observed in nature in form of dancing trees, flowing rivers, singing birds and falling leaves. Children should be taught to observe this melody, to witness it from their very childhood. This melody creates infinite impacts on their hearts.

Then they will be always be searching melody. If they find it in any form of arts, for example in strokes of a painter, they will start feeling it and exploring it. My experience says, at one point you will try to create melody on your own. Then you will touch some form of arts on your own. Then you will take brush or flute in your hands and create art which is melodious.

Why today’s youth is going away from arts? The answer is, they were never close to nature. Nature is the key to arts.

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Amjad Ali Khan or Mukul Shivputra

You have to make compromises in life. I do not like to choose things. But most of the times, you have to choose. Pune is a hub of musicians and performers. Performers love to play in Pune. Many times, it happens that two concerts get arranged on same day, at a same time. Then, fans have to choose and nothing else.

Amjad Ali Khan

Pune had two artists performing at the same time on same day. So, I had to choose.  One of combination was Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain who were going to perform at Ganesh kala Krida Manch. On the other hand a very rarely performing and gifted artist, Mukul Shivputra was going to deliver a concert at Garware College Assembly Hall.

This really confused me. I had attended twice concert by Pt. Mukul Shivputra but he did not sing either of the times. So, I had returned without listening anything. Concert of Mukul Shivputra is like a gamble; you go there keeping aside all your works, setting aside everything, getting way through high traffic. You hardly get a chance to get a front sit. Then, when you get seated, you expect something wonderful from Mukul. Mukul comes, sings for a while, shouts on his accompanists and leaves.

Mukul Shivputra

On the other hand, Amjad Ali khan plays same Ragas. I heard him thrice or more in Pune. He plays wonderful but he plays the same. But yes, he at least plays and that too marvelously. And yes, this time he had Zakir Hussain with him.

I attended obviously Amjad Ali Khan and Zakir Hussain. Yes, the same Ragas played very beautifully and Zakir not getting much scope to play. I enjoyed the concert. But, when I came back, from somewhere I came to know that Mukul Shivputra had sang two ragas. It was a shock for me. I opened him on You Tube and listened to some of his tracks.

I know, a choice cannot be done between Amjad Ali Khan and Mukul Shivputra, but still I know, I missed something. I missed something very rare and very precious.

Now I am again waiting. Some day, Mukul Shivputra will come again and will sing something. I am waiting for the day.

Read more about Mukul Shivputra


Art is always purposeless

It is said, that a purpose given to a thing reduces its value. Things which have no purpose are always beautiful, precious, priceless. When we attach some purpose to these things, they start to deteriorate. This same rule holds true for art. An art should always be purposeless.

Applications should have a purpose to them; but art is rather insight and innovation rather than application. Art can be on its highest peaks only when it is purposeless. A poem, written by a poet just out of nothing is much more beautiful than the poem he writes for some purpose i.e. for some theme, for a movie or book etc. May be, for art, purposelessness is divine; when you talk of purposes, you are making art worldly. You are bringing it again back in the world of humans from a divine world.

When there is a purpose, it means there is a human will. Presence of human will means going away from the divine flow. Art always blossoms when it is with divine flow rather than a human will……

Famous Musicians of India music

Shujaat Hussain Khan

Indian classical music has accommodated all sorts of instruments. Each of these instruments has its own beauty. One of the finest instruments Indian Classical Music has is, Sitar. Sitar is perhaps the most delicate instrument. Most loved by the listeners across the world. Shujaat Hussain Khan, one of the famous musicians of India has created his own place in the world of Sitar players.

shujaat Hussain Khan

Shujaat Hussain Khan is son of the legendry Sitar player, Ustaad Vilayat Khan. I have been listening to him for quite a long. Shujaat Hussain Khan won my heart in his first record. It was Raga Charukeshi played by him for the album Maestro’s Choice. Then, I tried to get his different recordings and loved him more and more.

Yesterday, I got a chance to listen him in a live concert that too just 15 feet away from the stage. The concert was named ‘Arghya’ is memory of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi at Pune. Shujaat Hussain Khan played Raga Shuddha Kalyan. It was really very nice experience to listen to him. Shuddha Kalyan was being played very delicately, breezes were flowing and audience was at peak of their tastefulness. The composition was, ‘Maundar Bajo’ by Ustaad Amir Khan Sahab which is made very popular by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Ji.

The thing which I liked the most is, Shujaat Hussain is dissolved in his music while playing. He is totally in tune with his music. The world gets closed- he and his Sitar; noting else. He just constantly tries to make it very delicate, goes on refining it again and again. The outcome of this all effort is, a performance which always goes on higher and higher, which takes audience higher and higher along with it. Shujaat Hussain Khan Ji is much concerned about the subtlety of Sitar. He very well knows for what Sitar is made. He knows Sitar completely.

His was followed by a vocal performance accompanied by Sitar by him. He sung very beautiful Sufi compositions. He was singing, along with him was singing was his Sitar. Each verse was followed by a clapping. His Sitar was picking up the najakat of each word and was putting it in front of the thousands of people. For nearly an hour, he took us all in a very delicate world. Shujaat Hussain Khan  is certainly a worthy successor of ImdadKhani Gharana and soon will take it to the never seen heights.


Indian Music

Indian music,which can be said to be the oldest form of music, is attracting a great number of people all over the world.The Indian music, along with its musical quality, is now in limelight more because of  latest research being conducted which prove it to be much healing and much beneficial.

Vedas are said to be the most ancient scriptures in human history.It is said that these Vedas were sung in Raaga which can be considered as the origin of scientifically produced music.Indian music has been changing its form gradually.At first it was a very different type of art;as the various emperors came and dominated over this country, the music also changed according to the people who ruled this country.The most important thing is that, though the form of music has been changed,the core purpose of the music remains the same.India has produced many talented musicians, but the wonder is that those who used this music for self exploration, were much more acknowledged and were given much more respect even if they did not get the fame.

A very explaining example is that of one of the most musician ever produced by India,known as Tansen.It is believed that Tansen used to ignite that lamps with the power of his music.But, Tansen was a disciple of a very great singer,hardly known to the masses,Swami Haridas.Swami Haridas never used to sing for public or for the king.Many incidences clearly show that he was much more respected that Tansen who was the court musician for emperor Akbar.

Indian music has survived because of  this approach of the musicians.Even today also,most of the musicians openly say that they perform for themselves or for the sake of divine.In other countries music has been considered as some sort of knowledge;but in India,music is always considered as a meditation.In spite of  many dominating rulers,Indian music has not lost its roots and the credit goes to this one concept-Music is meditation.

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Famous musicians of India #2

Ustaad Allauddin Khan

It was a noon time.A poor man was trying to sell his sub standard music drums called as Dafli which are played with the help of hands.He was merely successful in doing go.Along with him were sitting his poor children waiting for a customer;if he buys the drum they are going to get the food.Suddenly a man comes to the man.Not bearing the pain of the poor condition, he just lifts up one of those drums and starts playing them.Within a moment, the whole crowd is enchanted by that magical rhythm played on those very ordinary drums.For the entire time,people are out of the

ir senses.The performance is over.People within a moment, hypnotized by that divine music,take out whatever they find in their pockets and put it in front of the man.That man collects all that money,hands it over to the owner of the drums and without speaking a single word,leaves the place.

This soft hearted and India’s most loved and most respected musician was,Ustad Allauddin Khan.What we call as divine music is the music of Allauddin Khan.Allauddin Khan with a lot of efforts was accepted as a disciple by famous Veena player Ustaad Wazir Khan of Rampur.He was court musician to the Maharaja Of Maihar Estate.

Ustaad Allauddin Khan unlike other musicians, never practiced music as an profession.He was completely absorbed in music or rather music had absorbed him completely.He had reached the highest peaks and also the deepest and most subtle roots of the music.Allauddin Khan was a Sarod player, but he could play any instrument with so much mastery that anybody would think that this man must have wasted his whole life in playing that instrument.He could play all sort of instruments with equal ease and equal command.

As a musician he was the most successful; but as a Guru or Music master also, no one will deny the fact that he was most successful.He was father and Guru of world famous Sarod player and one of the finest musician of this country,Ustaad Ali Akbar Khan and very divine SurBahar player, Shrimati Annapurna Devi(Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia is a pupil of Annapurna Ji).Many of the most successful musicians like Sitar players Pt.Ravishankar and Pt.Nikhil Banerjee, flautist Pt.pannalal Ghosh were his disciples.If we consider producing a chain of worthy disciples as a success, no one is as successful as Ustaad Allauddin Khan.

Along with the musician,Allauddin khan was a very spiritual person.Greatest musicians of those times and also today’s music lovers, with love and respect call him Baba,which means father.He was also one of those rare musicians who explored themselves through music.He was equally in love of all religions and also always absorbed in the godliness.Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho was very much interested in Baba Allauddin Khan and used to visit him frequently.When Osho was asked that if he knew any musician who had attained enlightenment through music,Osho answered that it was only Baba who had realized the self through his music.As Osho says,while playing the Saord, Baba got his enlightenment.As at that time Allauddin Khan was above 100 years old, his delicate and fragile body could not bear that load, and Allauddin Khan left his body at the very moment.

This essence of his divine search can be felt in the music of Baba Allauddin Khan and it is a real mystical experience to listen to his music.

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Famous Musicians of India #1

I am very pleased to announce that for the first time I am starting a new series here on this blog.The series is named as Famous Musicians of India.India can be considered as birth place of music.Thousands of years ago Vedas were sung in musical notes.From there originated the concept of Sura(note) and Taal(Tempo or rhythm).On these two fundamental parameters based is the Indian music.

From its origin time, Indian music has undergone a series of transformation and now has reached the form it presently has.In this journey,various talented artists have made their contributions.The specialty of Indian music is that the same note can be sung in thousands of ways according to the way voice of the artist or the hand of the instrumentalist is trained. There are Hundreds of Ragas and also hundreds of different styles which make Indian classical music  a sheer joy and a very inspiring source for contemplation and meditation.

Another strange fact is that all of the famous musicians of India were having a very strong spiritual background.Their music was nothing but the journey to the self exploration.These musicians were practicing their music not as a source of income or as a source of entertainment but as a door to the eternal which can be found inside themselves.

So it is very insightful experience  to explore these famous musicians of India as it can give you anything you want-from entertainment to very deep contemplation.The very first musician which I will be discussing will be Allauddin Khan. The actual series will start with the next post.

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Divine Strings……

In india one can find thousands of stringed instruments.All these instruments were collectively called as Veena.One of the very famous stringed instruments of all these Veenas is Sarod.In India Sarod has been played by many famous players which were praised internationally.

The most famous and most profound Sarod player from India was Ustad Allauddin Khan.Allauddin Khan created a very huge generation of various world famous musicians which include famous Sitar player Pt.Ravi Shankar, famous Sarod player Ali Akbar Khan who is Guru of Musician Jay Uttal and many more artists.

This article is specially devoted for Amjad Ali Khan, one of the most talented musician India has produced.Amjad Ali Khan who has been nominated for Grammy has explored music to its deepest roots.Many people may find it controversial praising Amjad Ali Khan so much.Many critics even dare to  call him a second rate artist.Here I dare to say that India has produced a limited number of first rate artists and Amjad Ali Khan is one of them.

One of the subtle part of music is silence which can be generated in between the music.Very few artists have known this beauty of silence.It is really a sheer joy listening Amjad Ali Khan along with this silence pouring out in his music.This breath stopping beauty of silence can be found only in the music of Amjad Ali Khan.We are fortunate to have such a talented performer in our age….