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.

Famous Musicians of India

Shujaat Hussain Khan and Pt. Niladri Kumar in Pune

In the time span of two weeks I had opportunities to listen to two famous musicians of India. Both of them play Sitar, one of the most delicate instruments in Indian Classical Music. I had listened to Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan Live twice in Pune. Niladri Kumar was quite new to me. Pt. Niladri Kumar was going to be accompanied by Ustaad Zakir Hussain, the great Tabla player today. I was quite curious about performance of Pt. Niladri Kumar.

Shujaat Hussain Khan in Pune

The good part was, 2 weeks ago, Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan started his concert with Raga Shuddha Kalyan and Pt. Niladri Kumar too, (un)fortunately chosen same Raga shuddha kalyan to open up his performance. I generally do not like to do comparison; especially, I never compare artists because everyone has something special, something unique. I am not writing this article to criticize Pt. Niladri Kumar, but to feel the greatness of Shujaat Hussain Khan.

In case of Shujaat Hussain Khan, his first stroke steals away your heart. His strokes are so perfect, so natural, that you just cannot sustain it. I can remember the impact of his first stroke even now; it was so vibrant. I did not find this get up in the performance of Pt. Niladri Kumar. Raga Shuddha Kalyan has a very attractive personality. When played by a maestro, this Raga can make someone go mad with the ecstasy. Shuddha kalyan played by Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan had this ecstasy from start to the end. I could not find it in the entire performance of Pt. Niladri Kumar.

One thing which I would like to clarify is, this has nothing to with the skills of the artist. Pt. Niladri Kumar is famous for his fast and skilled performance. Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan, is equally skilled, but his performance has a fragrance which I consider more important than skill. Artist should have something, some experience to express through his performance. Performance of Shujaat Hussain Khan is full of this expression.

Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan is very humble person. At the end, when people were still clapping, Shujaat Ji said in a shaky voice that he does not deserve this respect that he cannot play even a fraction of what his Guru and father Ustaad Vilayat Khan used to play.

Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan will be performing in Pune in Swarjhankar Music Festival in January 2013. Waiting to see him, feel his Sitar and getting carried away in his divine notes…..

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.

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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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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….