Friday, June 30, 2006

Of ARR and Hindustani

1.Kukubh Bilawal:
I had been listening to a Kukubh Bilawal piece a few times composed by Ali Akbar Khan and sung by Asha Bhosle about 6 months ago. The piece stayed in my mind, and suddenly one early morning afterwards, it threw up a thought! The song "Sona nahi na sahi" from "One two ka four" conformed to those notes.

Kukubh Bilawal is just normal Bilawal with a special uccharana in the puravanga:
g3 r2 g3 p, p m1 g3, m1 g3 r2 s [g3] r2-- the Kukubh Bilawal anga is expressed in the last part (s [g3] r2).
--the chalan is taken from On the Bilawal trail

To understand what I am trying to say, listen to the song and concentrate on the words "Fikar kya hai, main hoon na tere liye", the last two syllables (liye) are clearly articulated in the Kukubh Bilawal style (s [g3] r2)!

2.Shahana Kaanada:
A well known Bhimpalasi is our good ol' "Radha kaise na jale". But in the second interlude (3:20), listen to the distinct sarod with pakhawaj in the background. That is NOT Bhimpalasi!

The swaras (roughly!) in the song are:
g2 m1 d2, m1 d2 n2 [s] d2 p,
m1 p g2 m1 d2, m1 d2 n2 [s] d2 p,
n2 [s] D p, g2 m1 (g2) r2, g2 m1 p.

This is exactly what is called as Shahana Kanada! A beautiful midnight raga.

dont know how much more he knows...
dont know when would we be fortunate enough to revel in his brilliance again!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Jugal Bandi

This one is like completing a Trilogy. After 2 wonderful concerts i attended recently, i felt my appetite for fusion music is picking up well. and to meet up, one more came along. Thanks to Divya, i could attend one more Phenomenal Fusion Music Concert today.
She somehow managed to grab 2 passes for a concert by "Jugal Bandi", a french band which plays world music.The band consists of 6 people.One vocalist & 5 instrumentalists. The instruments array was tempting enough to immediately say YES when she asked if i would like to attend.
Sarod-Tabla-Jazz drums-Trumpet-Bass Guitar.
Venue: Taj Krishna
Time: 7:30pm

The concert turned out to be one of the best ones i ever heard. honestly,after coming to know that the band members are from France (except the Tabla Player,who is a bengali),i thought that their fusion would be mostly be on folkish lines.But their compositions beat my expectations and they came out with excellent performance highlighting the beauty of Indian Classical music and Indian Raagas.
As always,the combination of Tabla & Drums pumped my adrenalin(cliche`). Soundwise, it was a terriffic combination because Sarod & Trumpet were the main instruments while Bass-guitar had its own play. The trumpet player did excellent job with the nuances. Sarod player did go Off-key while playing a composition in Raag 'Bhairavi'. This raaga seems to be their favourite;they played two compositions in this raaga. Similarily, another raaga which hit off very well is Raag 'Desh'. They were accompanied by an African folk singer and she oozed great energy.They experimented with raagas like 'Subha Panthuvaraali' and 'Pahadi', in which the Trumpet emerged out as a fantastic blending instrument. To give an analogy, the tracks were like "Do anything" track from Ilaiyaraaja's "How To Name It", in which he used trumpet as main instrument for raag 'sohini'.ofcourse, these guys put up a more crisp sound with fantastic co-ordination, given the fact that they hail from France and are still amateurs with Hindusthani Classical Music, though the compositions reflected a decent maturity. Not just me and Divya, but the entire audience thoroughly enjoyed each and every composition and must admit that they have stuff.

To Sum up, the experience was quite satisfying, musically and i wish i could get the recording of this concert, for this was a unique fusion which really had that multicultural characteristic, yet retaining the beauty of Indian Music. An experience which is unforgettable for both myself and Divya,whom i should thank for such a lovely evening.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Panchatatva - A Celebration Of Elements

I didnt want to post anything till i post this.

Celebrating 200yrs of Secunderabad, many shows were being organised recently. The one i was looking forward for, was a fusion concert.

Event: 'Panchatatva' - A celebration of 5 elements.
Date: 7th June 2006.
Time: 7:00pm.
Venue: Harihara Kala Bhavan, Sec'd.
Pt.Hari Prasad Chaurasia-Bansuri
Pt.Jasraj - Vocal
U.Srinivas - Mandolin.
Vijay Ghate - Tabla.
Uma Shankar - Ghatam.
Sivamani - Drums & Percussions.
Durga Jasraj - Recitation of Poetry.

The events lined up for secunderabad celebrations were many and most of them were supposedly free-for-all, in Parade Grounds. This event,however, was different. The invitation passes (not tickets) were for only elite VIPs. I tried my best for the passes but couldnt get them. Finally when the D-Day arrived, i almost gave up trying for passes and instead resolved to listen to the concert atleast by standing close to the auditorium premises. But i gave a last minute try by contacting a friend of mine, who promised that she would try to get some passes. After reaching there, i saw that a huge screen has been erected outside the auditorium hall for people who dont have passes. Nice luck, i felt.
Meanwhile, my friend spoke to some security personnels and police guys, citing some influential contact she had and before i could find a good place to sit and enjoy the concert on the screen erected outside, we were being led inside. I immediately contacted few friends who, i thought , could make it but none of them could.

To cut the crap, i was glad to be seated there, after almost giving up.

The concert had a good, though not new, concept. Representing the 5 elements with music. Though Music-Today did come out with a brilliant series "Elements" earlier, this one was different as the concert showcased a conlfuence of all these elements. Durga Jasraj recited Poetry(about each element) during the aalaap piece of every composition played.The poetry, which was in Hindi, was very well written, although i couldnt understand some words.

Sky: Sivamani was in fullform. He carried every possible hollow-3dimensional object one can look around. His jazz-drum ensemble occupied almost 1/4th of the stage and there were many unknown instruments too, digital particular electronic pad , which he tapped with his hands(as if it is a congo-drum) emitted a bass-y vroom kind of sound...very peculiar. He played around with many percussions backed up electronic sounds,hearing which, one could visualize clouds,meteors, planets and space-travel.

Water: U.Srinivas spelled magic. I watched him play, earlier in a Shakti concert. His ease is totally out-of-the-world. His fingers roll on the mandolin with such a finesse that anything he plays sounds pure and stunning. He choose Raag "Desh" and it flowed just like a stream from a mountain. Needless to say, i drowned in the rasa. One of the rare moments because i heard only Carnatic Music on Mandolin till now, and this was probably the 1st time i could listen to Hindhustani music on that instrument.

Wind(Air): Not surprisingly, Pt.Hari Prasad Chaurasia choose one of the best raagas ever, "HamsaDhwani". I always felt that this particular raaga is made for Flute, because the raaga has a very mellow-happy feel to it and flute is one such instrument whose sound puts a listener in a cradle of similar joy. Uma Shankar & Vijay Ghate threw up some really powerful stunts with their fingers while 70yr old(or more) Flute maestro showed why he is a maestro. His breath control super-awed everyone. The aalap mesmerized the audience and he played around with the raaga imaginatively. The finale stretched for a full 10minutes when he accelerated his 'bandish' into a fast-paced 'tarana'. Hamsadhwani blissed.He blessed.

Fire: This was a complete percussion segment. Uma Shankar(if you didnt know, he is the son of Vikku Vinayakaram) and Vijay Ghate thrashed the instruments they had while Sivamani counter-attacked with his own ensemble. The very fusion of jazz trap-kit + electronic beats and Tabla pumped up my adrenalin. The tremor-ish feel evoked out of the percussions symbolizing the wild rage of Fire.

Earth: Pt.Jasraj came up with a "Khayal" kind of song, set in a raaga unknown to me. It sounded similar to raag "Behag" but i could feel traces of raag "Chaaya Natt" also. Pt.Jasraj's rendition mainly traversed the pitch-scale spectrum. His low(est) Base-to-High Base exploration of Swaras surprised me.This was the 2nd time i heard such a feat (first being: S.P.BalaSubramaniam trying his base vocals in the Prelude of "Suvvi Suvvi" song under Ilaiyaraaja's baton in the film "Swathi Muthyam". ofcourse, there is no comparision but Pt.Jasraj performed the same feat and one could literally listen to the vibration of his vocal chords). I wondered how these aged masters can still retain their tonal control. Not a single note flew on wrong chord.

The Confluence: This was a masterpiece. More so, because the entire composition is set in one of my most-favourite raagas - "Bhairavi"(i couldnt control my enthu, and yelled "BHAIRAVI").Pt.Hari Prasad Chaurasia set the premise while Pt.Jasraj backed him with Aalaaps in Bhairavi.U.Srinivas brought up some amazing gamakams, which challenged Pt.Jasraj.What followed was more of a jugalBandi between Pt.Jasraj and Srinivas in which Srinivas answered every mindboggling gamakam/sangathi threw by Pt.Jasraj. His fingers moved across all the strings and frets with great speed. At one point, when Srinivas didnt understand how to bring out an out-of-the-world Gamakam,which covered the entire high-end to low-end notes of any instrument, he simply banged one of the strings and simultaneously loosened the Hinge of the string. The gamakam broke out exactly as what Pt.Jasraj sang, without even a minor offkey.The entire audience and every artiste on the stage overwhelmed by that feat, clapped for that. i never saw such a trick till in my life. Think of it, to maintain the same scale and raaga, he should have twisted the hinge synchronously at a pace which wouldnt give an off-key note. Having such a command on the instrument floored is no mean joke and it simply justifies his dedication towards that instrument and the years of practice he has put in.Pt.Jasraj couldnt help but only showered respectful blessing on the mandolin wizard with a namaskaaram.
Tha grand finale was again a fast-paced Tarana by the entire ensemble. Bhairavi oozed out taking me into a trance, and as always, the last concluding part and finishing touch brought out a musical-orgasm.

The best thing about this concert was that all the artists were in fullform, thanks to the audience who clapped during all those moments, when the artists showcased their dexterity and and their grasp on the nuances of the instruments they were playing. Even artists like Vijay Ghate and Uma Shankar proved that they are keeping up the legacies of their predecessors. Sivamani was probably the only artist whose image is way different from that of other artists, yet, he could pull off with some stunning moments especially when Pt.Jasraj was singing. Before everyone left, his casual comment, "Ee Roju Chaala Baundhi" reminded me of his "hello Sandhya! Nenu chaala chandaalanga...dharidhrangaa chacchaanu kadhoo...aedho naa bondha".

In all, Another unforgettable concert in my life and i can only thank my luck(and my friend) for having got the oppurtunity to feast the outstanding musical fiesta. Concerts like these also remind us (me especially) how small and insignificant we are , compared to greats like these and how much we are losing by choosing a mundane-life chasing god-knows-what, over the rich and soul-stirring music.

(If only tapes/cds are released, i shall buy it without looking at the price-Tag)