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Raga

Fifty Shades of Yaman

Every student of Indian Classical Music, at the very beginning of his student life, learns Raga Yaman. Similarly, every performing artist, sometime or the other has played or sung this Raga during his career as a musician.

In the world of Indian Classical Music, Yaman certainly has a spot which can hardly be taken by any other Raga. As a student of music, I was exposed to this Raga at a very young age and since then, have been listening to its renderings, by different artists.

Though considered as one of the simplest Ragas, presenting Yaman in a concert is a tough task.

I personally feel that Yaman is a multi-faceted Raga. It has multiple dimensions and multiple personalities hidden inside. Not every Raga is like this. For instance, consider Malkauns. Though Malkauns has a wide canvas, its personality is very well defined. In spite of artist and her creativity, the persona of Malkauns remains quite fixed. May be this is the reason why even beginners can also easily identify Malkauns when it’s being played by some artist- the persona is unique, well defined and hence, easy to grasp.

Yaman is not like that. Though it has well defined notes and patterns, artist has wide freedom to construct the personality. We cannot have fifty shades of Malkauns but we can certainly have fifty or even hundred shades of Yaman.

I have been listening to Yaman for quite few years and many times, heard it live, from different artists. What I realized is, though Yaman is capable of casting its fifty shades, artists fail to build a personality out of it. Listening to most of the renderings of Yaman, one realises that artists get caught in the shades, without being able to build a persona on any one dimension.

Is it necessary to build a persona? What is wrong if someone exposes the audience to different shades of Yaman instead of building on any one particular shade?

While exposing audience to multiple shades is not wrong, not building a persona clearly indicates the lack of understanding of the Raga and its nuances.

Every Raga is like a person and every person has a personality. We love a person because of his personality; if the personality is missing or not defined, it becomes difficult. Same with a Raga. A Raga has to have a personality. In case of a Raga like Yaman, artist has to explore different shades or the different facets of the personality and then build one in front of the audience; the one that the artist likes the most.

Sometimes, a person we know very well behaves strangely, in an absolutely unexpected way; this makes the relationship interesting. Similarly, an artist, though he is building the Raga around one particular facet, skilfully introduces some other shades, making the Raga even more interesting and unpredictable.

Out of all the Yamans that I have heard, I liked two renderings the most. First is Pt. Kumar Gandharva, who builds a very nice personality and makes it more interesting using his creativity and unmatched imagination.

The second one is Yaman by Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. Out of all the Yamans I heard, his one has the best personality- sober, humble yet graceful.

Categories
Famous Musicians of India

Milind Sheorey – The Divine Confluence

When I listened to Shri. Milind Sheorey for the first time, I remembered what Pt. Shivkumar Sharma said in ‘Antardhwani’, a documentary made by national film archives exploring the journey of this Santoor Maestro.
He says-

A Guru should not look at sculpting dozens or hundreds of disciples. Even if you are able to create one or two disciples who can understand the music of  Guru and then add something of their own to it, that is more than enough.

As my observation goes, this is quite true. Musicians cannot be bulk produced. At the same time, three factors play their role simultaneously. The first is disciple’s hard work- both as a musician and a human being, second is finding a Guru and the third and the last is the divine grace.
I feel, when all these three factors work out together positively, a great musician is born. It is quite clear that rarely something like this happens. It happened with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, it happened with Pt. Nityanand Haldipur and yes, it is happening with Shri Milind Sheorey.

Gurumata Annapurna Devi- The river of knowledge

Gurumata Annapurna Devi, who is taking efforts beyond human capacity to transfer the treasures of knowledge which she has, is very lucky as far as getting disciples is concerned. I could meet and have a discussion with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. During our discussions with both the artists, we realized the tremendous efforts taken by Annapurna Ji and also the two disciples. Listening to Shri. Milind Sheorey made me realize that the chain does not end with these two artists.
Though Milind Sheorey learned music from same Guru, his style is very different than his two Gurubandhus. As Nityanandji had rightly said, Annapurna Ji crafted each disciple considering his personality and skills. As it is said, true Guru never forces his knowledge own disciples but tries to understand each disciple and cultivates him accordingly.
Being accepted as a disciple by Annapurna Ji is in itself a big thing- it certifies that you are honest with your art. Being accepted by a godly Guru is a difficult thing to happen. But, being with such Guru and trying to manifest her dreams is even more difficult. When a demanding Guru and a hardworking disciple comes together, the third factor has to come into the picture- the grace of the god.

Miilnd Sheorey and his Music

It is quite visible from Milind Ji’s performances that he plays Ragas which are generally not played on flute. It is a feast to listen to Ragas like Shuddha Kalyan, Puriya Dhanashree on flute which are generally played on string instruments. As one can imagine, the task is not that easy, I would say, it is not at all easy. Flute is a very different kind of instrument as compared to string instrument where the show is managed by artist’s breath.
Before this, I had listened to such ‘non flute’ Ragas being performed on flute but one could easily make out that something is missing and not fitting. When I gave a try to Milind Sheorey’s rendering, there was nothing missing. It had superb blend of stable breath, correct approach to play the notes, immense continuity.
I am sitting here, close to Annapurna Ji’s house, listening to Puriya Dhanashree, played by Shri. Milind Sheorey. It is a perfect evening, with winds blowing without any control and sea roaring. Milind Sheorey has reached to some different height, and his music is accommodating enough to take me also there, with him. The sun is about to collapse in the sea and the curtains are dancing. So are the notes, though a bit constrained by the rhythm.
Osho says music should bring you to your origin. It should make you look inside. That is what happening. At this time, I am experiencing the three factors pouring in- the hard work of this disciple, the perfect Guru and yes, the grace of the almighty, blowing around as wildly as these winds.

You can further read this article talking about Pt. Kumar Gandharva

Please enjoy this rendering of Raga Kedar by Milind Ji-

 

Categories
Famous Musicians of India

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur – Silencing the mind

When I meet music lovers around, I always have one question ready for them. The question is, “Why do you listen to music?” Of course, every person has a unique answer. Some of them listen to music to forget their worries and hassles of the life. Some of them have approach of a learner- they try to learn and improve their own performance. If someone asks me this question, I have quite different answer. For me, music is a meditation. Not only playing music, but also listening to someone else’s music.

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur
Pt. Nityanand Haldipur

Can music help you to meditate?

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur is a unique flute player as far as meditative quality of music is concerned. Very few artists have this quality in their music as it is quite difficult to inculcate it in one’s music. I often face this question by many of the music lovers- what is meant by meditative music? How do we come to know if the music is meditative or not? I have a very simple answer for this question. The answer is, meditative music makes your mind silent. The activity of mind simply drops down. Many times, all of us find it very difficult to cut down the thoughts. During my talks, many students ask me this typical question- we sit silent for hours but we are never silent.  The fact is, it is always very difficult to separate ourselves from our thoughts, to cut the supply of energy going to thought process. Listening to some good music can always be useful.

As I mentioned earlier, Pt. Nityanand Haldipur carries this unique ability in his music. His music is like a constant flow. As soon as you start listening to it, you are dragged in it. Your mind just cannot function.  Almost all the masters who have ever walked on this earth, in some way or other ask us to silent our mind. Zen masters say, drop the mind. For hundreds of years, Indian Classical Music is being used as a gateway to god- in form of worshipping god and also in form of meditation.

If we go a step down, silencing mind is an outcome of breath stabilization. We need to stabilize our breath. So, when you listen to someone like Pt. Nityanand Haldipur, who plays flute with a steady and controlled breath, you are bound to be like him. I always keep on telling many of these students and friends to listen to such kind of music. Many of them report that it helps!

Read All Articles on Pt. Nityanand Haldipur 

Categories
Famous Musicians of India

What did music teach me?

As far as I can remember my past, I find some place for music. The oldest memories which I have about myself, have a tint of music, a unique flavour of records of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi that my father used to play in our house. Those days are still clear in front of me, now. Then came the days when I started practising music. I remember those days when my friends used to laugh on me; saying why you waste the time which you get to play. I do not know the reason, but I always loved sitting alone and practising my music than playing in a crowd of kids.

Almost always it happens with music students that they loose their touch with music when they face their tenth standard board exams. Same happened with me also. But, rare thing is, the thread connecting me and music did not break. It was a temporary separation.  When favourable conditions came, the love for music sprouted up. The reason behind digging out all these things is, an interesting discussion with a friend. The friend very bluntly asked me to tell him what I got out of spending so much of time.

As for as I am concerned, the question makes no sense. We do not do all things because we get something. Rather, doing some things bring so much of joy with them that you do not need any other reason. But still, I can understand the mindset of my friend. He also needs an answer for his rational mind. So, I ask myself: leave the joy aside. What else did I get from spending so much of time on music?

The answer is quite big. There are many outputs, some minor, some significant but all of them are valuable. Playing flute taught me how to be stable. It taught me the art of being unaffected by the surroundings. Stability of breath makes one’s life stable in all the situations. Practising music taught me to sit silently at a place, without getting tired and distracted. I sit in front of my Guru, listening for hours what he teaches. Music has improved my concentration and awareness.

Through this passion, I came to know so many divine artists and could meet them. Each of them taught me something different. I have not met many artists; their music teach a lot even in their absence. Guruma Annapurna Devi teaches us highest level of dedication; towards Gurus, music and even one’s disciples. She is an goddess who takes us beyond all the material aspects, where music is pure, divine. Pt. Shivkumar Sharma taught me meditation. He is simply a yogi. Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia is a perfect incarnation of lord Krishna. His love and affection towards his disciples is phenomenal. Pt. Nityanand Haldipur teaches us to devote ourselves to our Gurus. It feels really blessed to be among all of them. The list does not end here. Pt. C.R. Vyas teaches us to manage day-to- day life and music together. His dedication, hard work, devotion are beyond imagination. Pt. Suhas Vyas teaches us how a Guru should be in changed scenarios where there are newer challenges in front of music learners.

The list is unending. There is so much to learn; lives will be insufficient to contain all this wisdom.  What music has taught me is beyond all the books and scriptures. It needs a blessed one to get all this.

Categories
Famous Musicians of India

Annapurna Devi – So far, so close

Life is really strange. I am always fascinated about Indian Classical Music performers. I always attend the concerts, listen to the records and am submerged in the world. As the years passed, this affection moved to a higher state. I entered a state where I wanted to meet the artists and talk to them.

I am not sure if this is going to do anything better for me; still, I like to meet all these artists. I was quite successful at this. I could meet almost all of these artists. Indian Classical Musicians are magical. They carry a grace with them. Many times, the artist is not a famous artist, but still I meet him because fame does not define an artist.

While being on this journey, I came to know about Guruma Annapurna Devi. Annapurna Devi is the highest peak in the world of Indian Classical Music. I have not been fortunate enough to listen to her performance. But, I am fortunate enough to listen to and also understand the music of her disciples like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur.

I remember those days when I was honestly trying to know more about Guruma Annapurna Devi. Though I could not meet Guruma, because of this thirst, I could know more about three beautiful persons on this earth- Pt. Nityanand Haldipur, Pt. Suhas Vyas and Prof. Roohikumar Pandya. At that time, I had taken tremendous efforts to find out the place of Annapurna Devi. I went to her apartment and was fortunate enough to meet Prof. Rooshikumar Pandya.

Today, I have my house at a distance of ten minutes walk from her place. My apartment faces the same sea. When I go to Mumbai, I cross her apartment twice a day. Guruma Annapurna Devi is so close. The tall Akashganga Tower is so close. But still, Guruma is far away, inside her apartment.

Every time, when I pass from  Akashganga. I sadly laugh on this coincidence relating to Annapurna Devi. So close, and still, so far. I am trying to reduce the distance from my side. I know, there is no distance created from Guruma’s side. I am the reason for the distance. It will vanish some day, I am sure.

Click there to read more about pt. Nityanand Haldipur

Click here to read more about pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia

 

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Rakesh Chaurasia

Rakesh Chaurasia – The rebirth of flute

Why Rakesh Chaurasia?

In many previous articles, I talked about famous musicians of India like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. These articles can be read here-

Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – a living wonder

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur – Essence of simplicity

This is for the first time that I am talking about Rakesh Chaurasia. I liked him the moment I saw him for the first time. As far as i am concerned, I feel that every artist carries some aura around him. There are many great musicians, who are truly great artists but I don’t like their aura. In case of Rakesh Chaurasia, his presence spoke much about him. One can feel freshness, energy, openness from his being. So is his music.

Rakesh Chaurasia

Well, I never missed his single concert in Pune. The reason is his unparalleled flute performance. He is unmatched, in true sense. Rakesh Chaurasia comes with exceptional skills. He has really mastered the flute. His patterns are also out of mind. His entire performance is like a power pack.  When he starts, he is unstoppable. In all the concerts I attended, he played different Ragas without repetition. Every Raga was mastered. It was not like a few Ragas mastered. We sat 4 feet away from him in one concert at Bedekar Ganpati Temple in Pune and he played Raga Durga. It was really unimagined version of Durga. I could never imagine that some one will be able to play this Raga so ably.

Rakesh Chaurasia is a humble person. humble nature cannot be an excuse for lack of skills but it complement your skills. Same  happens in this case. Everything meets to make a perfect blend- talented, skilled, humble and humorous artist. Apart from this, he has deep respect for his Guru and his uncle, Pt. Hariprasad Chauraisa. When we met him, most of the time he was engrossed in talking about his uncle and not about himself. It is really rare to find all these qualities together in an artist of today’s generation.

You can enjoy his recording of Raga Des here-

Rakesh Chaurasia- Raga Des

 

 

Categories
music

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur – The essence of simplicity

Flute is the magical instrument, which is more magical in hands of Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. It is utterly simple yet very mesmerizing. To play flute is an art. To play it nicely is a meditation. To be honest, I have heard almost all the flute players India has. I liked Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia the moment I heard his flute. Same happened with Rakesh Chaurasia, the talented disciple and nephew of Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia.Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

Apart from these two exponents of flute, there was no one who could give the divine test of flute. A third name entered the list when I got a chance to listen to Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. Both Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur are disciples of goddess Guruma Annapurna Devi. But, it’s really difficult to make out that same person is the sculptor of both of these artists. You can make it out only if you have the ability to sense the divinity behind the notes.

Both Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur are travelling on the same mystical path of music. The only difference is, their apparent ways are different. Pt. Nityanand Haldipur’s music is so simple that its simplicity makes it very special. It is quite difficult or I would say almost impossible to get a chance to listen to such simple music. This simplicity makes the music magical. This simplicity carries the essence of meditation.

It is a fact that it is quite difficult to understand the magic of his music. Over the time, we have lost our sensitivity for simplicity. Only special and extra ordinary things attract us. In this race of being more and more extra ordinary, we have lost our touch with the simple things. Hence, it is almost impossible today to find something utterly simple. Though his music sounds simple, it is absolutely difficult to play so. Each note is a master’s stroke.

I don’t know how many people have ability to enjoy mystical music of Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. I guess, it is God’s grace that I can dissolve myself in the web of his notes, sitting silently.

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