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Famous Musicians of India

Interview: Tabla Maestro Nishikant Barodekar

For a long time, I wanted to interview this radiant and joyful Tabla Maestro, Nishikant Barodekar. I heard him first when he accompanied Rakesh Chaurasia at a concert in Pune. What a coincidence it was! I, my wife Dakshayani, Rakesh ji and Nishikant Barodekar- all of us came out together from the parking area. As Rakesh Chaurasia is a good friend, we exchanged a few words with him. After this brief conversation, Rakesh Chaurasia and Nishikant Barodekar went to the green room and I and Dakshayani to the auditorium!

Mandar and Dakshayani with Nishikant Barodekar
Mandar and Dakshayani with Nishikant Barodekar

At that time, I was unaware of the fact that Tabla Maestro was Nishikant Barodekar, grandson of the great Kirana Gharana vocalist, Smt. Hirabai Barodekar. It took us almost three years to meet in person after the concert that day!

Anyway, meeting Nishikant Barodekar was a totally new experience. Nishikant conveys certain things very clearly- he is humble, calm, devoted to the purity of his art and is well aware of his role in the world of music- not only as an artist but also a person and more importantly, as a teacher.

For almost one and half hour, Nishikant Barodekar took us on a ride, touching various aspects right from music, riyaz, spirituality to his observations about the young generation. Though he hails from a musical family, his musical journey was as tough as anyone else’s.

“For three years, I used to travel every day to Mumbai to learn Tabla from Abbaji (Ustad Allarakha) and come back to Pune. It was after three years of testing, that Abbaji asked me to stay at Mumbai”, humbly Nishikant unfolds the efforts which he has taken to master the art.

Nishikant started learning vocals and had to switch to Tabla due to some reasons. Under the initial guidance of Ustad Ghulam Rasool Khan, he began his Tabla lessons and was awarded national scholarship for three years. After this initial study, later he was accepted as a Gandabandh disciple by Ustad Allarakha.

“Ustad Allarakha was a great artist and had very simple personality. Ammaji (Abbaji’s wife) looked after us like mother. She always ensured that we are not hungry even if we were practicing late in nights.”

In this digital age, where many students of music meet their teachers only through Skype, the point made by Nishikant makes us realise that somewhere, the love and intimacy between Guru and Shishya is spiralling down.

When we asked him about who his favourite artist is or who are the artists he likes to listen to, he opened up his wide canvas.

“I am listening to all the great artists right from my childhood. Hence, there is no comparison. I just learned to pick up good things from each one of them.”

Nishikant Barodekar is a seasoned artist and his contribution to the field of art is significant. He has accompanied greatest of the great artists including Pt. Kumar Gandharva, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Vilayat Khannad many many more. He is a teacher passionately sharing his art and knowledge with students. Nishikant also conducts workshops regularly.

“How is your experience with the young students who learn from you?”

“Well, there are lot many distractions which keep them away from focusing”, he tells.

“When we were kids, television was the only entertainment and distraction. Today, life is so fast and there are so many things to keep you away. But in spite of that, due to this, the speed of understanding and grasping has also improved.”

Nishikant Barodekar is a devotee of Satya Sai Baba and teaches Tabla at Music College at Puttapurthi. I appreciate his concern about music and his art which is not limited only to performing in concerts but also stretches to openly sharing his knowledge with students.

Meeting Nishikant Barodekar has left behind many impressions and has given us many things to reflect and contemplate on. He has invited us to Puttapurthi, and we are much excited to see the place and the work which he is doing over there.

After a long chat and filling dinner, we got up. I was a bit upset as hotel management insisted on visitors picking up their plates and keeping them at the washing counter.

“This is very similar to our place (Puttapurthi). Here at least you do not have to wash your plates!” commented Nishikant, with twinkle in his eyes, gauging my anxiety. We came back home with memories which will be cherished for long!

Visit Indian Classical Music Section 

Read Interview with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia

Read my entry on Ustad Zakir Hussain

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Pt. Mukul Shivputra Uncategorized

Pt. Mukul Shivputra sings Raga Jaijaiwanti

He is whimsical and many people in the world of Indian classical music simply avoid talking about him. Still, many more miss him and miss his divine music. Mukul Shivputra quenched a thirst of music lovers which no other singer can.
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His concerts are now rare. Not many of his recordings are available in the stores. Some clips are uploaded on the internet but they lack the quality.

A few days ago, when we were attending a concert by Rahul Sharma [Barkha Ritu], on a CD stall there, I found a recording of Raga Jaijaiwanti and Kedar by Pt. Mukul Shivputra.

Without a second thought, I bought the CD.

Raga Jaijaiwanti- by different artists

I have listened to this melodious late night Raga Jaijaiwanti by many artists. Many of them are records and a few were the live concerts which I attended. The first rendition of Raga Jaijaiwanti which I came across was that of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. [Kanchan SInghasan and Jhanan Jhanan]. Later, I got more and more curious about this Raga and listened to its renditions by different artists including Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Jasraj etc.

I have attended a concert in which Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra sang this melodious Raga in Pune.

Till the date, I loved Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia  and Pt. Kumar Gandharva’s approach the most. This recording of Pt. Mukul Shivputra has changed the situation a bit.

Mukul Shivputra : Jaijaiwanti live in Mumbai

Jaijaiwanti is a vast Raga, with many possible combinations producing strikingly different emotions and moods. An artist can mend it to justify his feelings. At the same time, Jaijaiwanti has its own flavor also, which is very delicate to keep intact through out the concert.

Pt. Mukul Shivputra has done a really marvelous job while presenting this Raga. His swift movements from Dha to Ga, a trademark pattern in which he takes both the Gandhars together takes the Raga to another level. This also opened up a completely unexplored aspect of personality of the Raga. The quality of the recording is also excellent which adds up to the overall joy of listening.

I would highly recommend music lovers to listen to this live recording to experience the nonperishable beauty of this Raga.

View all concert Reviews

Read more about Mukul Shivputra

 

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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-

 

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Famous Musicians of India

Ustad Zakir Hussain : Music hijacked by the divine

I have interviewed and written about many artists on this website till date. This is first time when I am writing something about Ustad Zakir Hussain. I have countless memories which resonate with divine music of Ustad Zakir Hussain. Infinite impressions are created both by his music and his being. As I have many times said, an artist is not only his art but a lot more than that. Zakir Bhai, in true sense has a lot of this ‘lot more’.

zakir bhai
Zakir Hussain, through his music, has helped me many times and I am very much sure that I am one of the countless persons who are knowingly and unknowingly helped by his music. Through his music, I have learnt many lessons and learned a better way to live my life. One might wonder how listening to a Tabla performance can teach someone so many things. But yes, if the music is hijacked by the god, it can even wake up the dead.

Zakir Hussain and other Tabla players

Though I do not like to compare artists, I always like to discuss what makes the tallest peak ‘the tallest’. Undoubtedly, Ustad Zakir Hussain is the tallest peak in world of Tabla today. I have attended many concerts where Tabla was either a solo instrument or an accompanying instrument. These concerts were given by different Tabla players, Zakir Hussain being one of them. Keeping my eyes open helped me to learn many things about him which in my opinion differentiate him from the others. I will share them one by one.

1. Understanding music of the main performing artist

Ustad Zakir Hussain has tremendous understanding (sometimes even more than the main artist himself!) of the way artist he is going to accompany performs. If you listen carefully, other Tabla players play in same way every time, with every instrument and everty artist. On the other hand, the way Zakir Bhai plays changes with the artist, changes with the instrument. The way he accompanies Santoor is different than the way he accompanies Sitar or flute. In order to attain this level of performance, the accompanying artist has to have a deep understanding of the instrument and also the artist. On this front, he is beyond any parallel in today’s world.

Ustad Zakir Hussain

2. Thorough knowledge of sound system and acoustics

As we do, artists also tend to avoid the technical part- acoustics and sound check. My experience tells that Zakir Hussain has in depth knowledge of sound systems, acoustics and other technical things. In all the concerts I attended, Zakir Bhai religiously did the sound check, paying attention to the finest of the details. As a result, each of his concert is supported by highest quality of sound.

3. Humbler than the humblest

I respect Zakir Hussain for his humble nature. His humbleness is not borrowed. It is not for show. He is humble. It is very natural in his being. I have always seen him respecting old and learned people, forgiving organizers for small mistakes. I remember one of my friend telling me his first-hand experience where after a concert, Ustad Zakir Hussain lifted the Chappals (Indian type of footwear) of Pt. Shivkumar Sharma and brought them to him. In fact, his understanding of music of other artists also comes from this humble nature.

Zakir Hussain as an accompanist

I look at Zakir Hussain as best accompanying artist. I also remember the lit up faces of many music lovers when they came to know that the particular artist was being accompanied by Zakir Hussain. As already discussed, he has good understanding of different instruments and artists and he performs accordingly. Is that the only thing which separates him out? No, and the list is very long.

1. Pt. Shivkumar Sharma and Zakir Hussain

 

If someone asks me about which concert would be my highest priority concert, it would be this combination where Pt. Shivkumar Sharma is accompanied by Ustad Zakir Hussain. I remember a concert by these two great artists where Pt Shivkumar Sharma said that accompanists like Zakir Bhai are rarely born. The music of Pt. Shivkumar Sharma is meditative. His strokes and patterns are meditative. If the accompanying artist is not aware of this fact, his strokes tend to disturb this meditative quality of the music. The legacy of Zakir Hussain rests in the fact that his Tabla always adds to the meditative quality of music and it never disturbs it.

Accompanying Pt. Shivkumar Sharma is one of the most difficult task as the artist has to be highly attentive. Many times, a clear stress can be observed on the faces of artists accompanying him when they realize that they have lost it!

  I still remember a concert which took place around three years ago, at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch, Pune, where Pt. Shivkumar Sharma was accompanied by Zakir Hussain. The theatre was full, with not a single chair empty. It was the last part- the climax of the concert, very end of fast composition in Raga Puriya Kalyan.

At that point, where both the artists could not afford to stop for even a fraction of second, one stoke of Ustad Zakir Hussain slipped a bit. Hardly anyone of thousands of people noticed it- it was a very subtle issue. The greatness of Zakir Hussain is, he touched his right ear even at that moment.

I appreciate this honesty, of accepting one’s mistake, so small that no one can even notice it. On the other hand, I have seen many famous Tabla players going out of rhythm with a wide smile on their faces- to pretend the crowd that they are playing with rhythm and nothing has gone wrong.

2. Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Ustad Zakir Hussain

Once, I had this opportunity to listen to Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and the accompanying artist was Zakir Hussain. I could not attend the concert as I had to visit another city. But, I have an album, named Posession where Hariji and Zakir Bhai perform together at Osho Ashram (Now Osho International Meditation Resort, Pune). The album has Ragas Hansdhwani, Puriya Kalyan, Kala Ranjani and Pahadi.

This album possession truly shows what Zakir Hussain is. His Tabla talks with the flute. One can feel that both the instruments are having a conversation with each other. Infinite number of times I have listened to all of the recordings but still, they are fresh and they are alive.

3.Ustad Zakir Hussain: The king of Humor

Zakir Bhai is one of the most lively and humorous artists. His humor is pure, fresh and innocent. I have many impressions of his humorous behavior left on my heart. I remember a concert where the anchor was praising him without any limits. Silently, Zakir Bhai left his seat, stood behind the anchor and made him horns with his hands!

In another concert, where Niladri Kumar was frustrated while tuning his instrument (and which was not getting tuned), Zakir Hussain called him and asked him if he needs the hammer to tune it.

Zakir Hussain as a Solo Tabla Player

Playing Solo Tabla demands an altogether different judgment and RIyaz compared to playing Tabla as an accompanying artist. If you have to be best at both, you have to be Zakir Hussain.
Everyone has his own purpose behind watching or listening to any art form. What is my purpose? What am I looking for when I attend a concert? During a concert, if the artist is divine enough, there comes a time where the controls of the performance shift from artist to the divine. This is what I call as ‘hijacked by the divine’. This transition is something for which the artist performs. I can experience this transition in Zakir Bhai’s music. Whenever I go to a concert, I am waiting for this transition- it may happen or it may not. When Zakir Hussain is performing, it always happens!

Related Articles-

Pt. Kumar Gandharva- The purpose behind a Tarana

Pt. Kumar Gandharva- The musician who made a difference

 

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Kumar Gandharva

Pt. Kumar Gandharva- The purpose behind a Tarana

Note- Tarana is a type of composition which generally does not carry any meaning. As per the trend goes, Taranas are sung in a fast tempo.  

Many times, it is seen that listeners as well as vocalists are not aware of purpose behind different types of compositions that are being sung. Ideally, everyone should do what Pt. Kumar Gandharva used to do- contemplation. I really like the way this maestro, Kumar Gandharva has put forward his original thoughts on different aspects of Indian Classical Music, Tarana not being an exception

I often used to wonder, why Tarana is sung in any particular Raga. It is made up of syllables which carry no meaning at all. What people generally think is, it is some kind of adventure in Classical Music. For casual listeners, Indian Classical Music is very slow, boring and monotonous. I know many of my friends whose interest levels suddenly boost up when any artist says that he will be performing a Tarana. Generally, Tarana is thought to be the athletic part of classical music, unfortunately, not only by casual listeners but even by the many of the most famous musicians.

Pt. Kumar Gandharva singing a Tarana Courtesy- FiIms Division (Hans Akela)
Pt. Kumar Gandharva singing a Tarana
Courtesy- FiIms Division (Hans Akela)

While listening to Tarana sung by different artists, I used to feel unsatisfied. The constant fight with rhythm and notes used to seem senseless. I remember a concert, where Pt. Mukul Shivputra had sung a Tarana in Bhairav Raga. It was an early morning concert organized on the birth anniversary of Pt. Kumar Gandharva in Pune. It was first time when I listened to a Tarana in Madhya Laya (medium tempo). Otherwise, it is always performed in Ati Drut Laya (Super fast tempo). I enjoyed that Tarana a lot. It had conveyed something- which was beyond words.

Still, I was looking from some statement or document written by some authority which explained why Tarana is sung or what is the purpose behind singing Tarana. They say, when you are searching for something seriously, you get it.  Last week, I had ordered for myself a copy of ‘Hans Akela’ , a documentary made on Pt. Kumar Gandharva. This documentary was directed by Jabbar Patel. Somewhere in this documentary, they have mentioned what thoughts he had about Tarana. As he says,

‘When singer sings everything, and still wants to say something more, something which he could not convey through the compositions sung, he sings Tarana- which has no meaning. ’

– Pt. Kumar Gandharva

 I found this explanation very relevant, authentic and having some experimental value. Pt. Kumar Gandharva has sung his Taranas in same way. They convey something which the words cannot.  

Related Articles-

Pt. Mukul Shivputra and laughing Pt. Kumar Gandharva

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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 

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Famous Musicians of India Kishori Amonkar Uncategorized

Kishori Amonkar concert at Gateway of India : Review

When you are into world of music, attending concerts makes a big portion of your life. It is the time when you can see the maestros performing. As elders say, you should never miss an concert irrespective of the artist who will be performing. But, some artists rarely perform. In case of such artists, the listeners strive for every single concert. Whenever they hear even a slight discussion that there is some concert by such an artist, they try their best to be there,to experience the magic of divine notes.WP_20140105_001

also, if a concert is written on your fate, you will never miss it. Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar is one such artist who performs rarely compared to other artists.  During my first four years in Pune, I attended concerts by all the famous musicians including Pt. Mukul Shivputra, who is considered to be most infrequently performing artist in the world of Indian Classical Music. But somehow, a concert by Kishori Amonkar was something which I had not experienced. Then I got an opportunity to listen her live for couple of times.

This particular concert on 5th Jan 2014 was quite special because it was arranged in Mumbai. This was my first experience with Mumbai audience. The venue and time were both spiritual. It was an early morning concert scheduled at 6.30 in morning in front of gateway of India, facing the endless sea. Kishori Amonkar, though I had listened to two of her concerts before,was quite an unfamiliar artist for me. I was sincerely looking for more of her concerts so that I could understand her music better. Existence created the opportunity. And yes,I did not miss it!

The audience of more than 2000 stood up to salute Kishori Amonkar
The audience of more than 2000 stood up to salute Kishori Amonkar

the performance started at 7 O Clock.Without wasting much time, the organizers  requested her to start the performance.  Kishori Amonkar started with Raga Bhairav,a morning raga. The composition was spiritual. The skies were spiritual and so was the artist. The tall and robust structure of Taj at back, pigeons flying in their internal rhythm were adding to the already spiritual atmosphere.

It took some time for her voice to open up. When it opened up, she was beyond all the limits. What strikes me most about performance of Kishori Amonkar is her devotion and her level of involvement in the music. Her voice carries a deep resonance. Another thing worth noting is the patience in her performance. Kishori Amonkar is never in hurry. She is always giving full attention to each and every note and nuances of the raga which she is playing. While listening to her rendition of Raga Bhairav, I met many phrases in Raga Bhairav which I had never realized while practising. It was as if you are meeting completely unexplored side of a person whom you know for years. The second Raga chosen for the concert was Lalat Pancham. Her voice was moving steadily and gracefully in all the three octaves.

Kishori Amonkar carries a vision behind her every performance. One can find her constantly trying to materialize this vision through her performance. This striving, this struggle is so beautiful, so valuable! Her performance has nothing to show. It does not tell you how great the performer is. There is no effort done to show the greatness of the performance. It is like a waterfall, which flows for no reason. Perhaps this is what makes Kishori Amonkar one of the greatest artists ever….

View All Concert Reviews

Related articles- 

Swararthramani- Autobiography of Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar

Kishori Amonkar concert in Pune: Review

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music

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.

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Rakesh Chaurasia

Rakesh Chaurasia- Swarbhaskar festival 2013, Pune

Winter is the season of concerts. I somehow find winter to be most pleasant season around. The first reason is, it is truly a pleasure to sit silently in sunlight early in winter morning. The another reason is, winter is,the season of concerts.  In these four months of winter, dozens of concerts take place. So, for almost three months ahead, we will be fortunate enough to enjoy dozens of enchanting concerts.

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Rakesh Chaurasia performing in Swarbhaskar Festival Pune, 2013

the series has already started with a wonderful concert given by Rakesh Chaurasia. As Rakesh Chaurasia says, he enjoys playing for Pune audience. It is in a way true. Every year he comes to Pune and delights the music lovers with many memorable concerts.  The another remarkable point is, he always plays something new. We have  attended around eight concerts where he performed. Every concert was unique with a different raga played. We were quite curious to see which Raga he chooses for Swarbhaskar Festival.

the entire audience was excited when Rakesh Chaurasia said he would be playing Raga Janasammohini. Considering the time constraints, he explored the raga briefly but thoughtfully. After that he started playing Raga Jog, one of the most loved late night melody. Jog is a popular Raga, with quite strong and intoxicating flavor which depends a lot on how the performer uses two Gandhars- the sharp and the flat. I liked the way he posed both of these notes and used them to establish the mood.

considering the limited time available, he switched to Pahadi. Rakesh Chaurasia has played Pahadi in almost every concert he gave. Everytime he explores it in a different way. The concert concluded with the ever green tune of Vaishnav Jan to.

It is really nice to see not only consistent but more and more refined performances from Rakesh Chaurasia. He is performing with Ustad Zakir Hussain at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch, Pune on 08 Nov. 2013. I guess, that is the most exciting concert of the season!

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Rakesh Chaurasia

Rakesh Chaurasia- Some intimate moments

I remember a stage where I could listen to flute played by Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia only. Rakesh Chaurasia broke the tradition. Flute was made popular and established as an instrument in the world of Indian Classical Music by late Pt. Pannalal Ghosh. Personally, I could never enjoy Pannalal Ghosh’s music. For me, it missed something.

The first instance when I listened to Rakesh Chaurasia was somewhere in 2009, when I listened to his record of Raga Hansadhwani. This recording did not make any special impact on me. I missed one of his concerts in Pune, in 2009 which was arranged somewhere near Karve Nagar. The first chance to listen to Rakesh Chaurasia came when he performed live at Garware College auditorium, Pune.  Rakesh Chaurasia played Raga Puria Kalyan that day. Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia has played the same Raga in an album named Possession in Osho Ashram, Pune. I have never listened to a Puria Kalyan of that quality. I even now keep on listening to this record as it has non-diminishing beauty. Considering all this, it was quite a big challenge to perform Puria Kalyan and create a lasting memory.

Rakesh Chaurasia was absolutely successful in doing this herculean task. I can still remember the Puria Kalyan played by him, very skillfully and innovatively. This is not the only concert which we attended. After this concert, we have not missed even one of his concerts in Pune. We met him couple of times. I and Dakshayani used to chase him so much that at one concert, Rakesh Chaurasia stopped and asked if we follow him like his shadow!

Out of all these concerts, the concert which I enjoyed the most is the one which was organized by Bedekar Ganpati Mandir in Pune. This temple is a very small temple located in Pune which has a long tradition of organizing outstanding Indian Classical performances. As the temple is really small, we were sitting just 6 feet away from Rakesh Chaurasia and Vijay Ghate who was accompanying him on Tabla. He played Raga Durga, then Kirwani and after that Bhairavi. The concert went off more like a personal concert offered for handful of visitors though there was huge crowd.

Being a flute player and a student of vocal music, I am a great admirer of Rakesh Chaurasia, amazed by the level of his performance. He stands tall on all the fronts- practice, skills, innovation, devotion and the most important, dedication.

While having a long discussion with him in Pune, we slipped a small card in his hands. The card read-

‘Krishna was not as fortunate as Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia as he did not get a disciple like Rakesh Chaurasia’