One year of indianraga

This week this blog completes it’s one year. In fact, my other blogs on blogspot.com, myspace.com and multiply.com too completed one year of existence. When I started off, I was a novice both in my knowledge of hindustani classical music and blogging methods. I was so unsure of myself that I decided to write 4 blogs at once, believing that I could decide which ones to keep and which ones to abandon at a later stage, depending upon their popularity.

To start with I began to search for a host site that offered a good amount of space for my music files. After much thought I decided upon eSnips.com which offered 5 GB of server space and most importantly, it was totally free. It’s community flavour and interactive concept also helped me in deciding for it. At about the same time I started learning a bit of HTML and Javascript which I came to know will be essential to write my posts. On 25th of August 2007 I uploaded my first music file on eSnips and continued to do so for the next couple of months – about 3-4 files per day on an average.

It was a pleasant surprise to get an overwhelming response from other users on eSnips. In the beginning I made sure I uploaded only those songs which I liked personally. But writing on my blogs was a different deal altogether. I had to be careful not to prove a fool of myself in the age when 10 year old bloggers are common place. But after some time I discovered that it was not such a big deal after all. I started off with Blogger and soon came to know that it was easy to import blogspot blogs into wordpress.com and multiply.com (but not vice versa) and I really did not struggle too much in doing that.

One mistake I did and which was a bit jarring to most of my visitors was that I chose the mask of King Tutankhamen (Pharaoh of Egypt) as my logo. Now, Tutankhamen has nothing to do with hindustani classical music even with your furthest stretch of imagination. I soon corrected my mistake by changing my logo to that of Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of Lord Krishna around whom most of our classical music is woven.

I was again overjoyed by the fantastic response to my blogs especially those on blogspot and wordpress.com. Last month I abandoned my blogs on multiply.com and myspace.com because of the lack of flexibility they offer to their users. And also because, it really does not matter how many blogs you write on. At the end of the day people who like your scribblings, almost certainly will find you, no matter where you are. The only thing that’s important is how ‘search-able‘ your articles are on the web. WordPress.com and Blogger blogs are highly ‘Search Engine‘ friendly and that has helped me in getting that important chunk of regular visitors.

Having learnt a bit of javascript, I attempted to write a piece of code that could generate the download link of eSnips files, at a time when eSnippers were having a hard time in downloading files because of the lack of the download button. It was an instant hit and is quite popular with surfers who hang around eSnips. It is popularly known as eSnips Downloader or eSnips Link Generator. To become a techie is not such an arduous task after all, I have discovered to my amusement. In my quest of building a reasonably good classical music collection I have been to every nook and corner of the web and downloaded almost everything available there. From time to time I make sure to impart that knowledge to my visitors, by posting a few tips and tricks of downloading music from various sites.

Many a times I have resisted the temptation of turning this blog into a full-fledged ‘tips and tricks‘ blog (and letting it become one of the many that are in abundance on the web). I confess, these posts have proved to be more popular than those on the main theme of my blog i.e hindustani classical music. But I assure you this will never happen. This certainly will remain a hindustani classical music blog.

Keep enjoying our musical heritage…till it is alive !!

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Bidur Mallik : Nightingale of Mithila

Bidur Mallik is a descendent of Radhakrishna and Kartaram, the two brothers who started the musical tradition of this family of Mithila. They appeared at the court of Darbhanga (in north eastern India, near the Nepalese border), around 1790 and made a name for themselves by averting a drought through the singing of the magical ‘Rain Raga’ or Raga Megh. As a result, the Maharaja of Darbhanga granted them the title ‘Mallik‘ (Landowner), and conferred to them two villages and the surrounding landed property, where the family lives up to the present day. They served at the court up to the closing down of the state in 1947. After the death of Ram Chatur Mallik, the last actual court singer, in 1991, today Bidur Mallik is the senior musician in the family.

Born on August 15th 1936, he became the senior doyen of the Dhrupad tradtion of Darbhanga after the death of Ram Chatur Mallik in 1990. He inherited the musical knowledge and perfomance techniques of the Mallik Family, without which the annals of classical Indian music would not be complete. Together with his sons and the pakhavaj player Ramji Upadhyaya he visited Europe for the first time in 1983 during a Dhrupad festival organized by Peter Pannke in cooperation with the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation.

Khamaj Dadra (Nazariya) :  (Download)

Khamaj Thumri (Chhavi Dikhalaja) :  (Download)

Presently, he directs the ‘Pandit Sukhdeo Mallik Sangeet Samiti‘, a music school he established in the name of his father and Guru in Vrindaban, the centre of Krishna worship and home town of Dhrupad near Delhi. His foremost disciples are his three sons Ramkumar, Anandkumar and Premkumar, who in turn are teaching their own children. As the children have already started to perform to much acclaim, three generations of the family are presently active.

The Malliks are famous all over India for a very rhythmically elaborated interpretation of Dhrupad – a style which is virtually unknown in the West. Except for old Dhrupad and Dhamar compositions – of which they possess an unparalleled stock – they are also known for their exposition of Khyal, Taranas, Ghazals, Bhajans and songs of the medieval poet Vidyapati in Thumri style.

Vidyapati Thumri (Kunja Bhavana Se) :  (Download)

Mirabai Bhajan (Giridhara Nagar) :  (Download)

Bhairavi Thumri (Basiya Na Tere) :  (Download)

In Europe, they appeared first in 1983, at a European Dhrupad Festival organized for the Berlin ‘International Institute for Traditional Music‘ by world music specialist Peter Pannke, who has lived with the Mallik family in India for many years. In 1992, he invited them again for the Parampara Festival in Berlin, where they were performing together in the Tutti Shruti Orchestra. The 1993 European tour climaxed in the opening concert of the New Jazz Festival Moers, in 1994 they appeared at the legendary BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Shobha Gurtu : the Thumri Queen

Shobha Gurtu, the eternal ‘thumri queen‘ has no peer as far as Thumri and Dadra singing is concerned, except ofcourse Begum Akhtar who was the reigning queen during her time. Here are 4 songs, all big favourites of mine, sung by Shobha Gurtu in full glory :

Mand Thumri – Kesariya Balam :  (Download)

Abhogi Dadra – Dekho Guian :  (Download)

Ghazal in Bhairavi – Tamanna Aur Kya Hai :  (Download)

Khamaj Thumri – Chhabi Dikhla Ja :  (Download)

Enjoy listening !!

Hindustani Classical Music : 10 Gems Part 1

From now on I have decided to post 10 of my favourite songs every few days or so and their download links as well, for your listening pleasure at a later time. This week I am posting a few gems from the wondrous duos of Nazakat & Salamat Ali Khan, Amanat & Fateh Ali Khan (Patiala Gharana) and other maestros.

A Kanan – Thumri Khamaj :  (Download)

Ajoy Chakrabarty – Thumri Kajri – Damini Damke :  (Download)

Nazakat & Salamat Ali Khan – Peelu :  (Download)

Salamat Ali Khan – Thumri Khamaj :  (Download)

Shobha Gurtu – Dadra Pilu – Hamari Atariya Pe :  (Download)

Amanat & Fateh Ali Khan – Malkauns – Koyaliya Bole :  (Download)

Amanat & Fateh Ali Khan – Yaman – Na Ja Pardes :  (Download)

Fateh Ali Khan – Jaunpuri :  (Download)

Jagdish Prasad – Khamaj :  (Download)

Latafat Hussain Khan – Patdipki :  (Download)

Enjoy !!