My good friend from Lahore, Dr. Ashfaq A Khan aka holistic, who has uploaded one of the finest personal collections of classical music on eSnips, told me once, “Collectors are like snakes, coiled tight over a treasure chest. They will snap at you if you even, as much as, try to touch the chest. Leave alone taking a few jewels from it.” Dr. Khan abhors music collectors. His gesture of sharing very rare recordings of private mehfils of great maestros proves a point. Unlike collectors of other curios like coins or stamps, a music collector has nothing to lose if he lets other people have copies of a few rare songs, especially in this age of digitized music. The original songs will stay intact without losing their quality even if one hundred people downloaded them. Strangely, a few collectors cannot bear the sight of someone who has, what the collector thinks was his sole right to possess. Contrary to what many people think, I am not a music collector in the conventional sense. I love it when people download songs from my blog. More the merrier.
Another friend, a regular visitor on this blog, Shri Virendra Nath Bali from Delhi was kind enough to send me a couple of recordings of Sitar recitals by his late father Pandit S N Bali, a renowned player of the ‘tantkari‘ style Sitar. He wants me to share these with you all. The recitals were broadcast on the Allahabad / Benares Radio. Here are some memories, as recalled by his son. S N Bali was a disciple of Ustad Hamid Hussain Khan, a very ill-tempered and reserved man, who never wanted to part with certain closely guarded secrets of his khandani Sitar techniques to a non-family person. S N Bali used to stealthily climb the staircase of Khan Saheb’s room and listen to his playing at his private riyaz time. One day as the Ustad was strolling in the campus of the Marris Music College, he froze to attention at a particular spot upon hearing the replica of his most confidential Taans and Gat on the Sitar. He immediately called the watchman and ordered him to send whosoever was playing the Sitar. S N Bali reported to the Ustad in great fear but was shocked by the love and affection showered on him by his Guru. The Ganda (thread tying) ceremony took place immediately upon the Guru‘s instructions.