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Famous Musicians of India music

Dr. Arvind Thatte : Harmonium revitalized

As a tender student of Indian Classical Music, I started studying both vocals and harmonium together. For some years, I kept on studying both the things parallel, progressing well in both of them. After some time, I reached a certain mindset where I believed that harmonium cannot have the grace which s required in Indian Classical Music. With this thought in my mind, I reduced practising harmonium day by day.

 

Around ten years after that, I see a small advertisement in newspaper declaring a free concert by Dr. Arvind Thatte, the famous harmonium player. The concert was scheduled in the evening in the auditorium of Garware College, Pune. I make it a point that this concert should be listened. I try to leave from my company before time so that I can reach the venue un time struggling in the Pune traffic. I and Dakshayani reach ten minutes late, which is before time as far as most of the concerts are concerned. When we reach, to our surprise, the auditorium is full with people occupying the isles and the stairs. We somehow managed to get some space on the railings of the staircase.

Dr. Arvind Thatte accompanying Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra at Ramkrishna More Auditorium, Chinchwad
Dr. Arvind Thatte accompanying Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra at Ramkrishna More Auditorium, Chinchwad

The musical atmosphere inside was even superior than the physical. Hundreds od listeners paying attention to Jod in Raga Puriya Dhanashree. Dr. Arvind Thatte has a doctorate in mathematics. He is very studious person. It is rare to find the person who is both studious and artistic. Dr. Arvind Thatte is the perfect blend. The evening was colored so well by the notes of Puriya Dhanashree; the color still appears in front of my eyes. I was watching and listening to Dr. Arvind Thatte, who had taken the harmonium beyond all the limitations.

I learned a big lesson that day. It is okay if your instrument has some limitations; you should not have them. Dr. Arvind Thatte is a perfect example of the same.

This was the only solo concert of Dr. Arvind Thatte that I could attend live. Apart from this, we have seen him accompanying many great artists such as Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Malini Rajurkar etc. Listening to his accompaniment always highlights that accompanying artist is never inferior to the main performing artist of the concert.

I know Dr. Arvind Thatte personally. He is one of the most humble persons you can find out. He is not an ordinary artist who will sell his art. In his eyes, you can see the fire of studious personality, always researching, improvising. He is very simple and hence, very outstanding. Again, I consider myself fortunate and blessed that I could see him performing, could meet him and talk to him for long.

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Famous Musicians of India Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra

Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra- making music alive

Indian classical music- situation today

After attending many concerts, given by many different and famous musicians of India, I and Dakshayani always discuss that the situation of Indian classical music, especially that of vocal music is quite disappointing. This disappointment is not because of lack of exposure or organisors, but it is out of our experience- what did we feel after attending each concert. The sad truth is, we are losing the masters day by day. Indian classical music might have reached a state of fame and popularity but many of the artists of today’s generation are not successful in making their music alive.

Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra- performances in Pune

The feelings which I expressed above become denser when we listen to some performance of these old masters.  Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra are the god fathers as far as making music alive is concerned. We are fortunate that we could listen to many of their concerts in Pune,all of them were masterpieces. The music is perfect with all the elements which are necessary for a good performance. One more thing about Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra which separates them out from others is the justice which they do to the being of raga they sing. They never overpower the raga they sing; rather they allow the raga to flow through the music.

Indian classical music- what makes it special

Another great vocalist from present period, Pt. Suhas Vyas was explaining us one day that great music comes out of a surrendered being. I liked this statement a lot, also it matches with our own experience. To be a good musician, the musician has to be a surrendered being. I will need help from famous saint Kabir to put this in words. In one of his divine dohas, Kabir says,

Prem gali ati sakri, ta me do na samay

Ya tum, ya hari.

(In narrow lane of love, either you exist or the god.)

In same way in the lane of music, the musician has to disappear. The divinity cannot enter his music unless and until he disappears. These old masters including Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Pt. Suhas Vyas and many more musicians have surrendered themselves to their gurus, surrendered themselves music. The quality and aliveness in music comes out of this seurrender.

Indian classical music – What’s wrong today?

It can be seen that this submissive tendency is missing in many or rather most of today’s musicians. There are always exceptions. New generation artists like Rakesh Chaurasia and Ritesh and Rajnish Mishra give listeners a glimpse of this alive music.

The way ahead

This makes me think on the question- What makes Indian classical music distinct from other forms of music? Is it skills or practice or creativity? I think what separates Indian classical music is the difference in the attitudes. The correct attitude is the one where artists look at notes as something to be worshipped and not conquered. The attitude, where music is not a medium of being famous but a way to go in, a way towards serrenderedness. Realisation of this fact can revitalize the music, making it alive. I think we should always keep our ears open to what the masters in old days have sung and practiced.

 

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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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Pt. Jasraj

Pt. Jasraj – The voice of god

This is the second article which I am writing about Pt. Jasraj and his divine voice. The first article can be found here . The reason for writing the same article about the voice of this famous musician of India is, it is impossible to describe the charm which his voice has in even many articles. Indian Classical Music is full of maestros like Pt. Kumar Gandharva , Kishori Amonkar , Bhimsen Joshi etc. All these maestros are great in their places. There is no question of making any comparison in between them. But still, if someone asks me about the quality of voice, I would raise my hand for Pt. Jasraj.

Pt. Jasraj

I have been listening to Pt. Jasraj for quite long. I have heard a great number of his recordings from the olden days. What separates Pt. Jasraj from others is, even in his olden recordings, when sound systems were poor, his voice sounds divine. Right now he is in his early eighties. I listen to his live concerts at platforms like Sawai Gandharva Music Festival.

Even in his eighties. Pt. Jasraj has the most sonorous voice I have heard. The divine voice is not the only thing which makes Pt. Jasraj one of my favorite artists. Truly speaking, a good voice is never considered as a pre requisite for Indian Classical Music. Its an added feature.  But still, a good voice is a god’s gift. Ability to use such a good voice properly is even a greater gift. Pt. Jasraj has received both of these gifts from the God.

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Kishori Amonkar music

Kishori Amonkar Concert- Pune

A few days before, Arya Sangeet Prasarak mandal, Pune had organized a concert to collect relief fund for the drought victims. The concert featured many artists like Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra, L. Subramanyam, Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar, Pt. Ulhas Kashalkar and Pt. Ronu Majumdar. I, as usual attended the entire concert from early morning and also attended the evening session.

Among all these performers, I was very much curious about the performance of Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar. The reason is, she is the artist which I have listened to live very less. Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar is running her 81st year. It is so difficult to put the notes at right place at such a high age. But, I think it will be difficult for those who are not totally submerged in music. If your life is devoted to music, you can practice it till your last breath.

Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar

L. Subramanyam gave his performance before that of Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar. It was really wonderful performance and it was quite difficult to wipe away the spell cast by him. All the atmosphere was filled with the notes of the violin. But, within a few seconds, Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar had made her own environment. She started the concert with Raga Kedar. Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar was given a vocal support by her disciples, who were very young. But still, it was clearly visible that they were finding it to difficult to sing with the energy level of Kishori Tai. What she sings, the Taan of Jaypur- Atrauli is very pleasant for your ears to listen to, but its a wonder to make them out of your throat. Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar was effortless. Her voice was spanning high…higher than ever. It was clearly visible that she is made to sing. She was roaming in the world of notes when I was wondering about how she can do so at this age…

Her performance taught me one thing- If you are dedicated, you become effortless. Then you do not have to worry about the notes, but the notes worry for you. Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar truly demonstrated this phenomenon. generally it is said that it is difficult to master even one note. I would not say Kishori  Tai has mastered the notes but yes, all the notes are very friendly with her. That’s why she sings effortless……

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Famous Musicians of India Pt. Mukul Shivputra

Pt. Mukul Shivputra and Pt. Kumar Gandharva

There is an old proverb that no new tree can grow under a giant tree. This proverb is often used to describe the situation of families of musicians. Many times, it happens that sons and daughters of legends find it very difficult to keep themselves up to the expectations of listeners. Most of the times, the son or the daughter tries to imitate the parent artist and their entire life goes being just an imitation.

Pt. Mukul Shivputra

On these lines, it is very difficult for a son or a daughter to come with his/her own style of performing  which is so evolved that listener just forgets to compare it with the parent performer. But there are definitely some genius artists who have achieved this herculean task. All these thoughts came to my mind after a realization that I never compared Pt. Mukul Shivputra with Pt. Kumar Gandharva.

It was really surprising not to compare the son with the father. But, Pt. Mukul Shivputra is in a way incomparable performer. Pt. Kumar gandharva is for sure one of the most innovative and profound artist we had. If you are a son of Pt. Kumar Gandharva, comparison is inevitable. But, Pt. Mukul Shivputra stands above all the comparison.

I have an one and half hour long recording of Raga Malkauns by Pt. Kumar Gandharva. A few days before, I got an chance to listen to Raga Malkauns sung by Pt. Mukul Shivputra. He was playing the same composition which was recorded by Pt. Kumar gandharva. This composition can be said to be the highest peak of Malkauns. Pt. Mukul Shivputra has also sung the same Bandish but in a very unique way. This Bandish also goes to the same peak but it takes a very different way from that of Kumarji. I guess, this is Pt. Mukul Shivputra- reaching same height but in totally different sky.

One more article which talks about Mukul Shivputra can be found here.

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Famous Musicians of India Pt. Mukul Shivputra

Pt. Mukul Shivputra- The grace continues

Listening to Pt. Mukul Shivputra has always been like God’s grace. It comes and it goes. When it is there, you enjoy without bothering about anything else. Then suddenly, it goes. Then you pass on the days in the remembrance of the grace. Then again, you start receiving it and you are submerged in it. The concert by Pt. Mukul Shivputra in Pune gave everyone a feel of this grace. Then for next few months, Pt. Mukul Shivputra was showering this grace through his different concerts.

Then one day, he just left Pune. The grace had stopped and we were living on the remembrance of his concerts, listening to the recordings again and again. But the grace again comes back. One morning, I found a great link to high quality recordings of Pt. Mukul Shivputra. Without even thinking on it, I downloaded all the links. The very first note of Pt. Mukul Shivputra gave the unique experience, as if you are taking grace of god. All the Ragas which are sung by Pt. Mukul Shivputra, I have heard them from Pt. Kumar Gandharva. It is very difficult job to sing same Bandishes and Ragas as sung by Kumar Gandharva and create your own image.

Pt. Mukul Shivputra holds this responsibility very successfully and many times, what the listener feels is, Mukul Shivputra has added many unexplored intricacies to the performance by Pt. Kumar Gandharva. I have no idea, when Pt. mukul Shivputra will again perform live and I will be able to attend the concert. But one thing is for sure, when Pt. Mukul Shivputra was singing; I was there, being a part of the divine music.

Update: 

After writing this post, Mukul Shivputra almost stopped giving concerts. Yes, there was one concert of his organized at Tilak Smarak Mandir, but he could not perform there. After that, for almost one year, there was no news about him. In the month of March, 2015, a concert which was followed by dinner was organized on the occasion of Mukul Shivputra completing 60 years. I attended the concert and enjoyed the dinner along with the maestro. Here is the review of this concert.

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Visit our page featuring Pt. Kumar Gandharva

 

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music

Pt. Mukul Shivputra and Laughing Kumar Gandharva

To welcome the rains, a wonderful concert by Pt. Mukul Shivputra was organised at Bharat Natya Mandir, Pune. It is a rare chance to listen to Pt. Mukul Shivputra. He had given a glimpse of his divine voice and unmatched rendering to the music lovers of Pune in a concert organised at Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha on the occasion of birth anniversary of Pt. Kumar Gandharva.

Without much publicity, the concert was flooded with listeners with no tickets remaining. The typical crowd of devoted listeners reminded me of concerts of Pt. Kumar Gandharva.  The stage was decorated simply with a few flower garlands and a photograph of Pt. Kumar Gandharva, laughing.

Concert started with no formality. Pt. Mukul Shivputra had come with a determination of quenching thirst of his listeners. He was rendering each note of the Raga in unique way. Hall was full of matured crowd. It was a perfect occasion to go inside- divine notes, a genius at his peak, a mind at the bottom of its depth.  Pt. Mukul Shivputra was creating magic. The notes were resonating in the atmosphere. Their aura was getting multiplied and among these tides of notes, I was caught.

A few years ago, i used to feel sad about Pt. Kumar Gandharva and Pt. Mukul Shivputra. That day, I laughed. Pt. Mukul Shivputra is beyond the mundane, because music he creates leaves mundane behind. Let him be anywhere; his music will always keep him above the normal world.

It was a satisfaction to listen to Pt. Mukul Shivputra. A soul of waves was dancing in the waves of music. The music he created waved hundreds of his listeners.

That day, I was laughing, Pt. Kumar Gandharva was laughing looking at his son going deeper and deeper in the ocean of music, and Mukul, he had gone far ahead of us……..

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Famous Musicians of India

Amjad Ali Khan : The one who understands sarod

Each instrument is different just as each individual person is different. There are different ways of behaving with different kinds of persons according to their nature and their structure. Same thing holds true for the instruments also.

To be more precise about this, each instrument is like a person. Each instrument has different domain, different nature and different flavor. It happens that many artists do not understand the domain of their instrument and in mere effort of copying some another artist, loose this attachment with the soul of their instruments.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, I would dare to say, has clearly understood his instrument, Sarod. Many Sarod players though play their instrument very skillfully, have somewhere failed to understand the nature and fabric of their instrument. I have heard Amjad Ali Khan a lot and have attended many of his concert. Amjad Ali Khan has never stretched Sarod beyond its limit. He has never troubled his instrument to show his skills on his instrument.

Sarod is a very gentle instrument with glides and many other delicate playing features. Not many Sarod players understand and realize this fact and in order demonstrate how skillful they are, they go on playing Sarod against its nature.

India has many great Sarod players, but Amjad Ali Khan has special place in my heart because he has done the difficult task of understanding his instrument, respecting its nature and give listeners sheer joy.

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Famous Musicians of India music

Sawai Gandharva Festival- A note for Critics

Each and every year, one feast is reserved for the lovers and admirers of Indian Classical Music. Sawai Gandharva Festival, this giant musical feast is available every year and I am there to attend it without any failure.

Sawai Gandharva Festival brings almost all of the famous artists on the same stage. It lasts for 4 to 5 days and presents 4 to 5 artists a day. So, it is obvious that people and also critics start comparing the performances and many times, commit mistakes.

Sawai Gandharva Festival

Many times, these mistakes are due to love and respect for one particular artist and even hatred for another artist. But, these are minor factors for professional critics who give their reviews in newspapers. Many a times, new listeners get their views affected by these critics which in turn creates permanent dislike for some artists which are really genius.

This time, I had kept a strict eye on all the famous newspapers who were publishing reviews of Sawai Gandharva Festival. Almost all of them did show that critics need to have a clarity about music, its purpose. To give an example, many newspapers claimed that performance of Pandit Jasraj was not up to the mark. I just do not know what to say to these people. Do they even know about whom are they talking? Pandit Jasraj is in his eighties with his voice still ranging over three and half octaves. If you still listen to him to hear some musical gymnastics, you have wasted your musical life. I listen to Pandit Jasraj just to feel his vibe, just to feel his presence, just to feel unity he attains with the divine while singing. Critics of Sawai Gandhava Festival should note that purpose of music is not to enchant audience. The purpose is to attain unison with god and enchanted audience is just the byproduct.

Same thing happens with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia in Sawai Gandharva Festival. Many a times, critics even dare to call his performance boring and without energy. This man, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is absorbed in music for more than 50 years. Today, his complete body shivers due to old age. Still he performs better than artists from the younger generations. His performance is not boring but the critics fail to catch and feel his silence. They cannot see the stability of his breath and his being.

During festivals like Sawai Gandharva Festival, many times young artists and matured artists perform on same day. The point to note is that, younger artists certainly have more energy. But as far as musical maturity and meditativeness of music is concerned, critics fail to observe it in the performances of matured artists.

Image from- sudharaghunathan.com