Indian classical instrumental is a much sought after genre of music all over the world today. Gone are the days when listeners from Western countries could not make out if the instrument that was being played was sarod or sitar. The only sound that convinced Westerners that the music is really Indian was the constant drone of the tanpura. But thereafter, of course, the sounds of the sitar strings became recognizable everywhere and even got featured in a few Hollywood movies of the 1950s and 1960s. The sound was also noticed by many Rock bands of the West and some experimented with it in their music.
Bismillah Khan – Malkauns (Shehnai) :
Hariprasad Chaurasia – Pilu (Bansuri) :
Ali Akbar Khan – Gour Sarang (Sarod) Vocals: Asha Bhonsle :
Anoushka Shankar – Shuddha Sarang (Sitar) :
Note: Please inter-change the names of the last two songs after you download them. They were wrongly named while uploading.
Ramkumar Chatterjee (Chattopadhyay) (1921-2009) was a famous singer from Bengal. He is best known for his unique Bengali tappa and puratoni gaan (old Bengali songs). He also had a special place in singing in the baithaki gaan (songs sung at elite evening gatherings) prevalent during the ‘babu raj’ in old Bengal of the last century. He was very popular among the masses because of his unique signature parodies, which enthralled the audiences. He also composed music for two Bengali films, Streer Patra (1973) and Parikrama (1996).
Believed by many as the finest female vocalist of her generation, Kishori Amonkar has been blessed with a naturally melodious voice. The distinguishing feature of her performance is the effortlessness with which she presents the ragas. Her renderings keep intact the tradition of the Jaipur gharana without being tradition bound, thus winning the acclaim of purists as well as laymen. Kishori Amonkar’s mother, the illustrious Mogubai Kurdekar, told her once: “Sing for the nature and everything will respond to you.” How true were those words. Birds, animals, trees, the grass and even the sun seem to reciprocate when Kishori Amonkar sings.
Kishori Amonkar – Deskar – Hun To Tore Karan Jaagi :
Shanti Hiranand was born in a business family in Lucknow. Her love for music goes back to her childhood. Soon it became an all consuming passion for her. Starting her early training at the Music College in Lucknow, she had to shift to Lahore in the early 1940s because of her father’s business interests. Her first performance was on Radio Lahore in 1947. After the partition her family shifted back to Lucknow and she started training under Ustad Aijaz Hussain Khan of Rampur. Alongside she continued performing on AIR. She met her guru, guide and mentor in Begum Akhtar in 1957. Begum Akhtar already had two excellent ganda-bandh (officially accepted and initiated) shagirds, or pupils, Rita Ganguly and Anjali Banerjee. From reading Shanti Hiranand’s biography of her guru, ‘Begum Akhtar: The Story of My Ammi’, one gets the impression that she was the only student who mattered. Begum Akhtar trained her in the traditional forms of thumri, dadra and ghazal singing.
Begum Akhtar’s passing away in 1974 drove her to dedicate her entire efforts to excel in the art given to her by her guru. It is interesting how these two women from seemingly diverse backgrounds could come to such an exalted level of understanding between themselves, in times that were not very conducive to such social interactions. Shanti Hiranand belonged to an upper middle-class business family. She had a liberal education and was used to a certain space and freedom to pursue her own passions, while Begum Akhtar lived within the cloistered environs of a typical feudal home in those days. While Shanti Hiranand was an austere Gandhian, Begum Akhtar was a person of deep indulgences. It is amazing that even Shanti’s parents never stood in her way, they never stopped her from being with her Ammi. On the contrary on occasions it was Shanti’s mother who encouraged her to follow her guru right until the end.
Shanti Hiranand – Pilu – More Piya Base Kaun Des :
Shanti Hiranand – Khamaj – Tanik Tohe Balma Jane Nahi :
King Nanyadeva of Mithila (1097-1147) wrote that the variety of Ragas is infnite, and their individual features are hard to put into words. He wrote : “Just as the sweetness of sugar, treacle and candy cannot be separately described, but must be experienced for oneself.”