Saturday, July 22, 2006

Barkha Rithu - Rains & Raagas

Date: 21st July 2006.
Venue: Ravindra Bharathi Hyderabad
Event: Barkha Rithu - Rains & Raagas
Pt.Shiv Kumar Sharma (Santoor)
Ustad Rashid Khan (Vocal)
Vijay Ghate (Tabla)
Bhawani Shankar (Pakhawaj)
Another concert in hyderabad. Probably nature wanted to welcome the artistes or perhaps the raagas were already looming in their mind, that there was a slight drizzle before the concert started.
The concert started with Pt.Shiv Kumar Sharma's Santoor. Needless to say, it has always been one of my favourite instruments and this live-concert brought me more close to the instrument. Panditji choose the apt raaga for the evening "Megh Malhar" for the 1st track. The beauty of Hindhustani Music, more particularily instrumental music, is the aalaap part where the artiste explores all the corners of the raaga thereby developing the mood. It is like taking the listener to a journey and almost halfway through the aalaap, the listener is completely trapped in that raaga. exactly the same happened with me. The soothing and soft-serene notes/sounds of santoor recreated the mood of rain, clouds drifiting along in the sky...
This instrument santoor has one advantage and one disadvantage. The disadvantage is that the real Gamaka is impossible since the sound is by vibration of various strings closely knit together. Yet, the advantage is that it is like a Piano. At any instant, it can produce two(or more) Sounds at various pitches/Scales since it is played with both the hands. In the case of other string instruments like Sitar, Sarod, veena or even Guitar, the science involved is that a single note is produced when it is struck with finger. Santoor on the other hand, can give both, base & lead tunes. Also, the low-scale ( or say the base section) of this instrument lies on the left side of the trapezium(its shape).Panditji showcased all these elements in his aalaap and one could listen to the minutest vibration of each string where he could produce a Gamaka, though not with the meend but atleast on a flat escalation from minute vibration-1 to minute vibration-2, for example. the music was indded a great treat.
pakhawaj is the hindhusthani counterpart of Mridhangam. The sound of this instrument is little different from Mridhangam in the sense that the Bass element involved in the sound of pakhawaj is quite different from taht of Mridhangam. And Bhawani Shankar's fingers produced some of the fantastic sounds like cloud-burst, thunders to depict the rain. His JugalBandi with Vijay Ghate's Tabla was something phenomenal. Another greatest element of Indian Classical music is the extent of freedom/scope the music leaves for a composer to improvise. especially in the case of jugalbandis, it is amazing to see how these artists play with such awesome precision without any score-sheet in front of them. Improvisation is the only wave on which the music rides and yet, with the cycle of beats constantly changing, it leaves the audeince spellbound. How can they bang the right rhythms (which are again changing)? Indeed, a confluence of mind preceeds the real confluence of music, which is the meaning of jugalbandi.
The Trio treated us with another 30minute piece which was ambrosia for ears. it was a raagamaalika in which i could identify raag Madhyamavathi and raag Malhar, among 2-3 other raagas he improvised upon. When he completed the crescendos each time, one could really feel the rush of adrenalin, even though the sound & instrument pertain to fragile feeling and not fiercy ones. At a point of time, i felt as if a calm trance has taken me over. The music simply water...and rain.
Ustad Rashid Khan was the next artiste to take over the stage. He too sang a khayaal in Raag Malhar. The Aalaap was excruciatingly slow with lot of intricate notes structured within the raaga,after which he paced up and played around with his voice. Needless to say, the vocal control was mindboggling, especially during the Sangathis (juggling of Swaras).
In all, it was not just another evening, but a memorable one during which divine music poured down...just like rain...for my soul.


Gandaragolaka said...

oh cool!!

Nice comparision between instruments that produce discrete notes and those that produce continuous sound.

A couple of points:
Just pure Malhar is rarely played these days-- because of the ease with twhich Malhar pairs with other ragas, most Malhars are amalgams (there is a Kedar-Malhar as well :))

"excruciatingly slow alap"-- was it like facing Bishen Singh Bedi after facing Waqar Younis?

Slowness has its own beauty only if its used properly and sparingly.

Music Fan said...

very good post...

never read anyone write about comparing the musical instruments like u did. Gives a good perspective.

I was just wondering, how much would the tickets to one of these shows cost? I ts been quite sometime since I have been in India... just was curious about it...