Class on Raga Analysis - June / July 2006
Musical Wednesdays between April - August 2006
Wednesday recitals continue to form an integral part of the training programme for scholars of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy. However, on some occasions visitors are invited to perform at the auditorium. On April 12, 2006, Pune resident Ramprapanna Bhattacharya performed here. Fortunate to have received the blessings of Ustad Vilayat Khan Sahib, he is presently being trained in all aspects of the Imdadkhani Etawah Gharana by Pandit Arvind Parikh. He presented alap jod, gats and jhala in Ragas Marwa and Piloo. Gopal Mishra provided interesting tabla support.
On the third Wednesday in April, the ITC-SRA auditorium was overflowing, with latecomers being forced to listen to the performance from the foyer. Celebrated ITC SRA Guru Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty was making a presentation on Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Beginning with an excerpt from a documentary made by the Films Division, Pandit Chakrabarty played some immortal recordings of the Ustad, lacing the evening with anecdotes about the great performer. The evening had been organized in memory of the Ustad’s birthday which was on.
Shri Anindya Banerjee was the artiste for the last Wednesday of the month. Internationally lauded for his commendable attempts at revitalizing the near extinct surshringar, he however began by presenting Ragas Shri, Dhawalasri and Sorat on the sarod. Trained by Shri Dhyanesh Khan, Shri Aashis Khan, Ustad Bahadur Khan, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee as well as Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, the artiste concluded his performance with Raga Gunji Kanhada which he played on the surshringar. He was ably accompanied on the tabla by Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay, senior faculty member, ITC-SRA.
On the last Wednesday in May, Shri Anup Dasgupta presented a guitar recital. Guided by such great musicians as Pandit V G Jog, Pandit Ranadhir Roy, Sri Ramkrishna Bose, Sri Sanjoy Banerjee and Sri Soumitra Lahiri, the artiste presented Ragas Jog, Yaman and Megh. Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay provided tabla accompaniment.
The third week of June brought a visitor from Delhi, Shri Amitabh Chatterjee. Presently being guided by Pandit Manilal Nag, the artiste presented Ragas Shyam Kalyan and Piloo on the sitar. Samar Saha provided adequate tabla support.
The last Wednesday of the month brought several listeners to the auditorium. Visiting Guru Shrimati Shruti Sadolikar Katkar was scheduled to perform. In her characteristic style she enthralled listeners with khayals in Ragas Puriya, Jayant Malhar, Savani and Desh. Jyoti Goho accompanied her on the harmonium while Swapan Mukherjee played the tabla.
The visitor in the second week of August came from Chicago, USA. Flautist Lyon Leifer, disciple of Pandit Devendra Murdeshwar, is presently on a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship, and has been receiving further training from Pandit Nayan Ghosh. That evening he presented Ragas Puriya Dhanashri, Yaman, Marwa and Miyan Malhar. He concluded with a bhatiyali dhun. ITC-SRA faculty member Gopal Mishra provided appealing tabla support.
Kishen Maharaj visits the Academy
Quite often we come across artists and musicians who have held their place in their time but have only remained spectacles in the nature-run human comedy. Few refuse to adapt to the changes and ravages of time. Others simply cannot. A stream of young blood ushers them to the wings and takes centre-stage. And then there are those who, in one way or the other, control the changes that time affects over the art, and before whom the battle-cries of time and generations seem frail, timid and hollow. One such artist is Pandit Kishen Maharaj who graced the Academy on the mornings of July 17 and 18, 2006. An octogenarian, he spoke tirelessly for over three hours on both days and had the awe inspiring effect a man of his standing is wont to have. He is a man who has truly lived and seen life to its fullest. In a series of immensely uplifting anecdotes he reflected a vision and personality that was exemplary.
Fragments of his reminiscences painted a candid picture of his life. He began living with his guru, Pandit Kanthe Maharaj very early in life. In time, he came to accept his guru as his family and even addressed him as “pitaji” (father). After years of intense taleem he migrated to Bombay where he spent a few months in complete anonymity. On account of fairly straightened finances he was exposed to a life of grave struggle. Eventually he got noticed and from there, it wasn’t long before fame was knocking on his door. He became known as K.P.Malik (Malik is his nom de plume) and began working with music directors in the Bombay film industry. It was then that his lifelong relationships with legendary musicians such as Pandit Ravi Shankar and Shrimati Lata Mangeshkar began. From then on it was an unending glorious journey which saw him grow to be one of India’s leading tabla exponents. His name is hailed with utmost respect as one of those legendary maestros who gave tabla the place it holds in the world of music.
He urged students and all musicians to never forget the holy place ascribed to the guru. He narrated incidents of sacrifice and dedication that inspire the values that a musician is expected to maintain; values that contribute to the making of a complete artist, giving him a personality. It is often said that the personality of the artist is the most important thing in art, and if that is particularly remarkable, a hundred faults can be forgiven. He narrated tales of how the great musicians and gurus of yesteryears did their riyaz, illustrating their attitudes and sentiments towards their riyaz and the powers that it generated. He also spoke of their devotion towards their guru and towards music.
By the end of the workshop the scholars undoubtedly felt a strong force that motivated their energies and each one took a silent vow to work much harder. Such is the power of the presence of a legend in the midst of lesser mortals. Later, with child-like enthusiasm, he posed for photographs with the scholars, blessing each one individually.
ITC SRA Presentation, July 15-16, 2006
ITC Sangeet Research Academy arranged a two-day programme of Hindustani Classical music at G.D.Birla Sabhaghar on 15th and 16th July, 2006. In this programme, 8 scholars of the Academy, 6 vocalists and 2 instrumentalists, shared the stage with 2 veteran vocalists and Gurus of the Academy, Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar and Padmabhushan Vidushi Girija Devi, fondly known as ‘Appaji’.
In his welcome address, the Executive Director of the Academy, Amit Mukerjee, himself a reputed vocalist, made the audience aware of the aim and method of the Academy’s dedicated efforts towards creating performing artists. The tradition of this academy is ‘Guru-Shishya Parampara’ from which music lovers got artists like Kaushiki Chakraborty, Sadhna Deshmukh Mohite, Shashank Maktedar, Tushar Dutta, Omkar Dadarkar and others.
But the central attraction of this inauguration ceremony was the radiant presence of the legendary tabla maestro Pandit Kishen Maharaj. On behalf of ITC SRA, a flower bouquet and a memento were given to him. He was asked to say a few words as his invaluable blessings. The eighty-three year-old maestro spoke of his long association with Kolkata, since 1936-37. He pointed out that the age-old tradition of ‘Guru-Shishya Parampara’ was the only way in which performing arts could be taught and was glad that this was being followed at ITC SRA. University degrees and diplomas were of little importance, he opined, and despite the existence of numerous academic institutions, performers had not been created at them. He added that in maintaining this age old tradition of Guru-Shishya Parampara SRA is second only to Bharatiya Kala Kendra of Delhi where Gurus like Ahmedjan Thirakuwa, Hafiz Ali Khan, Siddheswari Devi and others taught students like Birju Maharaj, Amjad Ali Khan and many other great performers of today. The presence of eminent senior performers like Meera Banerjee, Dipali Nag, Purnima Sen, Kashinath Mukherjee and reputed footballer P. K. Banerjee, apart from the Gurus of the Academy, added another dimension to the proceedings.
The evening began with Guru-cum-Prefect Falguni Mitra’s introduction of the young artists of the day. Sucheta Ganguly, scholar under Arun Bhaduri, was the first to perform. She presented the vilambit ektala khayal ‘Karam karo kripal dayal’ and drut teentala ‘Bajo re bajo mandalara’ in Raga Shuddha Kalyan. She was accompanied on the tabla by Sandip Kumar Ray Chaudhuri, while ex-scholar Gourab Chatterjee played the harmonium. Sarodiya Abir Hosssain, scholar under Buddhadev Dasgupta was the next to perform. He played alap, teentala gats and jhala in Raga Surdasi Malhar. Samar Saha provided scintillating tabla accompaniment. The next performer was Ruchira Kale, scholar under Ulhas Kashalkar. She had chosen Raga Gaud Malhar in which she sang a vilambit teentala khayal ‘Mana na kariye’ and drut teentala ‘Saiyan mora re’. Tabla accompaniment was provided by Swapan Mukherjee while Rupashree Bhattacharya played the harmonium. After a short interval, Sandip Bhattacharya, scholar under Mashkoor Ali Khan, began his performance of Raga Bihag. He began with the khayal in vilambit jhoomra tala ‘Allaji ke pyare’, after which he sang the drut teentala ‘Aliri alaveli’. Here too, Tarak Saha provided tabla accompaniment while Rupashree Bhattacharya provided harmonium support.
The concluding performance was by the popular performer and ITC SRA guru, Ulhas Kashalkar. He began his performance with khayals in Raga Shuddha Nat, the first set to vilambit teentala ‘Aghana mori lagi’ and drut teentala ‘Ja re kaga’. The day being the death anniversary of Bal Gandharva, he concluded with a Marathi bhajan popularised by this famous performer of yesteryear. His accompanists were Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay on the tabla and Jyoti Goho on the harmonium.
The second day’s programme began with a vocal recital by Sumana Gupta, scholar under Ajoy Chakrabarty. She performed khayals in Raga Shyam Kalyan, first a vilambit ektala bandish ‘Saavan ki saanjh’ followed by drut teentala ‘Chhab Shyamki mana mein samaye’. She was accompanied by Swapan Mukherjee on the tabla and Jyoti Goho at the harmonium. The next artiste was Sameehan U Kashalkar, scholar under his father Ulhas Kashalkar. He presented Raga Miyan Malhar, beginning with the vilambit ektala ‘Re ata dhund raho’, followed by ‘Avaghana barase’ in drut teentala. Providing accompaniment were Gopal Mishra on the tabla and ex-scholar Gourab Chatterjee on the harmonium. Nilanjana Roy, another scholar under Ulhas Kashalkar, was the next artiste. She presented khayals in Raga Kamod, beginning with ‘Mati malaniya’ set to vilambit jhoomra tala, followed by ‘Karey jane na dunge’ set to drut teentala. She was accompanied by Tarak Saha on the tabla and Rupashree Bhattacharya on the harmonium. Post-interval was the sitar performance of Supratik Sengupta, scholar under Buddhadev Dasgupta. He played alap, jhaptala gat, teentala gat and jhala in Raga Megh. Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay provided stimulating tabla accompaniment. The finale was a vocal recital by Padmabhushan Vidushi Girija Devi. She began with khayals in Raga Surdasi Malhar, vilambit ektala ‘Garajata ayo re’ and drut teentala ‘Badarva barasana ko aaye’. She then demonstrated a thumri in Raga Shuddha Nat ‘Barasata mein kou ghara sey na nikase’. Turning to songs of the season, she presented two kajris, one in Raga Pahadi set to kaharwa tala ‘Lagi torey nainava ke baan’, the other, a ‘dadra-ang-ki-kajri’ in Raga Pilu set to dadra tala ‘Kahanwa mano ho radha rani’. She concluded with a bhajan in Raga Bhairavi set to kaharwa tala ‘Kahe preet lagayi hari tum’. Her accompanists were Samar Saha on the tabla, and Jyoti Goho on the harmonium.
Class on Raga Analysis - June / July 2006
Raga analysis classes are an integral part of life at the Academy. All such sessions are eagerly attended by scholars as well as general class students alike. Over two sessions during the months of June and July, 2006, three closely related Ragas, Desh, Sorat and Tilak Kamod were discussed. The gurus present included Buddhadev Dasgupta, Manilal Nag, Arun Bhaduri and Shruti Sadolikar Katkar. Executive Director, Amit Mukherjee also joined the discussions
Shrutiji began the discussions with a demonstration of the basic structure of Raga Desh. Buddhadevji summed it up as: R m G R, R G S N S, RR m P N, N S, S R n D P, P D (m) G R, R n D n P D M P D M G R, R G S N S. Audio recordings of an instrumental rendition by Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, and vocal renditions by Roshanara Begum and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan were heard. Shrutiji explained that the Raga belongs to the Khamaj that and has R and P as its most prominent notes (Vadi - Samvadi). It was noted that Raga Desh allowed the ‘Sam’ on the notes S, R, M & N. ‘Sam’ on G D and n were also observed. Manilalji pointed out that though each Raga has its own distinct characteristic features or angas, an artiste in performance is allowed to take certain aesthetic liberties. The phrases n P, m R; R m G R (n) D P were cited as examples. Also, although the arohan requires S R m P, usage of N S R G M P; S R G m P or N S R G m P D (m) G R etc. is common. Usage of g (komal gandhar) is also allowed but only in the phrase R g R in the tar saptak only.
While analysing Raga Sorat, audio recordings of vocal renditions by Ajoy Chakrabarty and K G Ginde were first played and detailed discussions followed. Buddhadevji pointed out that though Desh allowed ‘Sam’ on S, R, G, m, n and N there are hardly any compositions that have the ‘Sam’ on P, neither in the phrase R m m P, nor in the avaroh, as in, n D P. This is precisely what forms the backbone of Raga Sorat. The pivotal point of the Raga was the recurrence of R m m P with the ‘Sam’ being on P. This was amply demonstrated in Ajoyji’s rendition of the Raga. Manilalji warned scholars of susceptible slips into Raga Surmalhar as they share almost the same scale. An important characteristic of Raga Sorat is the near absence of G. From an archival recording of Pandit Ginde’s lecture-demonstration, it was apparent that g (komal gandhar) is also used, albeit very sparingly. There is also a significant presence of the Malhar anga in the poorvang. Gindeji supposed that the Raga has its origins in folk melodies of Saurashtra which is the area along the borders of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Even the word Sorat is probably a derivation of Saurashtra.
Moving to Raga Tilak Kamod, Shrutiji pointed out that although this Raga is similar to Raga Desh in many ways, the emphasis is on G rather than on R. She sang a few compositions to demonstrate the character of the Raga. A recording of Surshree Kesarbai Kerkar was heard. From the discussions it was apparent that P N S R G, S R P m G, S R G S N S; R M M P; S R M P S P D m G, S R P m G, S R G G S constituted the main movements of the Raga. Although S P combination is vital, n D P or S n D P are also allowed. Buddhadevji pointed out that in an old 78RPM of Smt Hirabai Barodkar, she had sung a composition in Tilak Kamod that began with the phrase N S D N S. This is certainly not a Tilak Kamod phrase but strangely, the recording was accepted and went on to gain popularity.
As several questions remained unanswered, another session was scheduled for the same topic, in which Amitji began with a very pertinent question. It is a generally accepted fact that the Raga Sorat is out of vogue, perhaps because of lack of clarity and common acceptance of its form. Hence it seems to have gone off the performance circuit. However, through discussions and demonstrations by Falguniji the structure of the Raga was well established. Apart from the points discussed earlier, he added that Sorat has a prominent aarohi tendency and was prominent in the concert repertoire of artistes of yesteryears.
The best way to analyse a raga is by looking at different compositions, for each composition explores a new avenue, a new “raasta”, a new idea that a composer sees. It increases one’s understanding of the raga grammatically and aesthetically. Scholars Arshad Ali Khan, Manali Bose, Nilanjana Roy, Sucheta Ganguly, Ashim Kumar Dey, Sandip Bhattacharya and Samarth Nagarkar sang various compositions such as Karam Kara Leeno (Teentala), Beet Jaat Barakha Ritu (Teentala) and Phirat Na Phere Naina (Jhaptala) and with each composition realized how the raga could have so many colours. Buddhadevji too vocalized two gats. Some compositions demonstrated a bias towards Malhar while a few had strains of Khamaj. A few had just the pure and simple Desh characteristics but were remarkably beautiful in arrangement while a few delineated the raga so discretely without changing its character or mood. Each composition was more educative than the other.
Then again, after a brief recap of the discussion on Tilak kamod, scholars Sumana Gupta, Aastha Agarwal, and Samarth Nagarkar sang compositions that displayed the many flavours of the raga such as Bamana Ek Saguna Bicharoon (Teentala), Neer Bharana Kaise jaoon (Teentala) and Bhaye Man Magana (Roopak). Each composition was discussed and reflected upon.
The two sessions not only revealed the grandeur and beauty of the ragas, but also demonstrated the right way of learning and analyzing a raga and its compositions.