Me a music collector? No way!

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.

S N Bali – Raga Tilak Kamod :  Download

S N Bali – Raga Shuddh Sarang :  Download

.. more Sitar music »




  1. February 23, 2010 at 11:26 am

    My father late Sh. Surendra Nath Bali, retired in 1968 from an unappreciative and petty internal politics-ridden AIR, as station director of Lucknow-Allahabad-Varanasi kendras.His colleagues like Pt. Ravishankar, who was in-charge of the AIR-Vadyavrind, got dissillusioned soon and resigned from AIR to go freelancing.But late Sh Bali shied away from taking any such drastic step and continued to slog away in AIR. Sh Bali was a creative genius. Undeterred by the indifference of his bureocratic baaboo mentality bosses he went on and on composing over a thosand songs for the light music department of AIR,and wrote and directed some of the most high-quality radio-operas like “shakti ka janm’, in the history of AIR.
    In this long service of AIR, Sh Bali neglected his Sitar.
    Though he did give many a recital at the radio, but he could not find time to play in music conferences, which are a must for ones public recognition as a sitar maestro. He therefore remained out of the professional lime light. However, because of his expertise in the difficult ‘tantkari’ style of playing the sitar and his deep knowledge and mastery over the hindustani music,(he was chief examiner for graduate and post graduate exams of Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyapeeth)he was held in high esteem by the
    top most of his contemporary instrumentalists like Pt Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat khan, Ustad Ali Akbar khan, Prof. V.G.Jog, etc.who all used to come often to our residence in Lucknow for small private music sessions.
    Sh. Bali has written ‘Sitar Subodhini’ a theory book on sitar playing for graduate and post graduate students.
    It is my humble request to all listeners of these recordings to kindly note the salient differences between this, now extinct difficult ‘tantkari’ style of sitar and the ‘gayaki’ style in which most of the known sitar players like Pt. Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan etc. play.Your comments will surely give solace to the departed soul of a musician on whose lifetime yhe sun forgot to shine.

  2. james stevenson said,

    March 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    very interesting information. thank you. are there recordings of his compositions? I would be interested to hear any of them, especially the radio-opera. Or even any of the orchestral pieces of Pt. Ravishankar from his days at A.I.R.? thanks, James

  3. panchamkauns said,

    March 23, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Huge thanks for pointing us to Dr Ashfaq Khan on Esnips! He has plenty of recordings of Nasiruddin Sami. Ever since I heard the French CD of Nasiruddin in the 1990s (Makar Records), I have been waiting to hear more … AND HERE IT IS! 😀

  4. Prasad Kailaje said,

    April 18, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Thanks a lot Mr Bali Jr and indianraga. I am very very delighted to hear these masterpieces.

  5. j s pande said,

    December 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

    the sound files of the late s n bali are no longer on the site.

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