Songs from the British library 2

The gramophone recordings from the Linguistic Survey of India consists of digitized recordings originally collected in South Asia during a period from 1913 until 1929. Intended as a supplement to Sir George A Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India published between 1904 and 1927, the recordings of stories, songs and poems were collected by provincial and presidential governments of British-ruled India in cooperation with Grierson and the Gramophone Company, Calcutta.

Song in Mewati by Husseina of Delhi (1920) :  Download

Song in Jaunsari by Madho Ram & Nand Ram of Chakrata (1920) :  Download

Song in Kumauni by Chandan Singh of Almora (1920) :  Download

Song in Bagheli by Babu Raghunath Prasad of Jhansi (1920) :  Download

.. more songs from the Linguistic Survey of British India »


Songs from the British library

After the Great Uprising of 1857, the re-establishment and deeper penetration of the British colonial state in India resulted in the systematic collection of knowledge about things and people Indian. This period witnessed the planning and execution of several big surveys: the Archaeological Survey, the Geological Survey, and perhaps most ambitiously, a Linguistic Survey of the Indian Empire (LSI). In all 179 languages and 544 dialects in the Indian Empire, excluding some portions (Burma, Hyderabad and Mysore states and the Presidency of Madras) were described in the survey, published between 1903-1928. Here are a few songs recorded during the survey.

Song in Ahirwati by Husseina of Delhi (1920) :  Download

Song in Brajbhasha by Bhudeva of Muttra (Mathura) (1920) :  Download

Song in Bhojpuri by Balram Prasad Mishra Rais of Basti (1920) :  Download

Song in Bundeli by Babu Raghunath Prasad of Jhansi (1920) :  Download

All the above recordings were made in Allahabad in 1920. It appears that not all singers were professionally equipped for the task. Instead important people from various districts were called to Allahabad and asked to sing songs and poems, and also tell stories prevalent in their respective regions.

More to come.

.. read about the British Raj and Indian classical music »


Bismillah Khan : piper of Benares

Ustad Bismillah Khan (1916-2006) was perhaps single handedly responsible for making the shehnai a famous and popular instrument and bringing it into the mainstream Indian classical music. He was credited with having almost monopoly over the instrument as he and the shehnai were almost synonymous. Bismillah Khan was born in a small village called Dumraon in the state of Bihar, on November 21, 1916. His early childhood was spent in Benares, on the banks of the Ganga, where his uncle was the official shehnai player in the famous Vishwanath temple. His father was a musician for the Dumraon state.

He started his training under the guidance of his maternal uncle, Ali Bux, at the age of six. He often accompanied him to perform at marriage celebrations or music conferences. Bismillah Khan made a recording for the first time in 1930. However it was sold in the name of a relative, Vilayat Hussain, a more popular musician at the time. He made his first major public appearance in 1930 at the age of 14, when he played along with his uncle at the All India Music Conference in Allahabad. His second performance was at the Music Conference at the Lucknow exhibition, where he won a gold medal for his recital.

Bismillah Khan – Kajri Keharwa :  Download

Bismillah Khan – Chaiti Dhun :  Download

Bismillah Khan – Thumri Bhairavi – Aaye Na Balam :  Download

Bismillah Khan – Dhun (from the film ‘Goonj Uthi Shehnai’) :  Download

Bismillah Khan – Dhun – Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram :  Download

Bismillah Khan had the ability to produce intricate sound patterns on the shehnai which, till before his time, were considered impossible on this instrument. The Government of India bestowed on him the title Padma Shree in 1961, and later, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. In 2001, he became the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, after M S Subbulakshmi and Pandit Ravi Shankar. Bismillah Khan died of cardiac arrest on August 21, 2006. He was 90. The Government of India declared one day of national mourning on his death, an event unprecedented for any musician.


Adnan Sami : ecstasy on piano

Adnan Sami has a special command on Indian classical music notes. He developed his musical style and technique on the Piano, evolving a new sound, which he pioneered and ultimately introduced to the world, thus becoming the first person to play Indian classical music on the electric Piano. As a classical concert pianist, Adnan Sami has had the honour of giving performances before heads of governments such as President Mitterand of France, President and Prime Minister of India, President and Prime Minister of Pakistan and Prime Minister of Sweden. Apart from this, Adnan has performed for prestigious music festivals to sold-out stadiums of his concerts all over the world.

Ecstasy, a 1990 album, is part of Adnan Sami’s journey into the world of Indian classical music, a world that he, unfortunately, abandoned in the later part of his career. Ecstasy has four tracks including one in Raga Khamaj. I am skipping this one as it has already been featured in one of my earlier posts, and was also part of Adnan’s earlier album. It is surprising, but no details about Ecstasy is available anywhere. The whereabouts of the accompanyists, like the Tabla player, are unknown. Can someone find them, please?

Adnan Sami – Raga Bairagi :  Download

Adnan Sami – Folk Tune from N.W.F.P :  Download

Adnan Sami – Dhun in Raga Pilu :  Download

.. more Piano music by Adnan Sami »

Note : N.W.F.P stands for North West Frontier Province, the most northerly province of British India, now in Pakistan.


Adnan Sami & Zakir Hussain : the chosen ones

Some people are born to be self destructive.. like Adnan Sami. Take a look at his career graph. Once known to possess the fastest fingers on the piano keyboard, Adnan Sami took his classical music lessons from none other than Santoor maestro, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. Two decades ago, in 1990 he, together with Tabla wizard Ustad Zakir Hussain, created music that can safely be termed as sheer magic. It was at a live concert in Karachi, Pakistan. Classical instrumental music, Adnan is playing the piano, cannot get better than this. Wonder why the two magicians never collaborated again. Also wonder why Adnan Sami made a mess of his career and ..personal life.

Adnan Sami & Zakir Hussain – Raga Durga :  Download

Adnan Sami & Zakir Hussain – Folk Tune :  Download

Adnan Sami & Zakir Hussain – Raga Bageshri :  Download

Adnan Sami & Zakir Hussain – Dhun in Raga Khamaj :  Download


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