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.
Indian classical musicians worship their instruments as if the Goddess of knowledge, music and art, Saraswati, bestowed them to them herself. During the Monterey International Pop Festival of 1967, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix smashed his guitar all over the stage and later burned it into flames at the finale of his performance. Another guitarist, Pete Townshend, followed suit by breaking his guitar into bits and pieces. In sheer contrast, Pandit Ravi Shankar, who also participated, lifted the sitar to his forehead as a mark of respect for the art and the instrument. Recently, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was seen weeping when his sarod was damaged during a flight. Herein lies the divinity of Indian classical music.
Indian classical music is a part of the Indian heritage, and is said to be found in the oldest scriptures, namely the Vedas. Indian instrumental music is a part of the classical music and is a much revered tradition of India. Globally, Indian instrumental classical music has greater acceptance than classical vocal music. The reason attributed for this is that the lyrics in Indian vocal music are incomprehensible to people other than Indians. Presented here are four of the most delightful performances on various instruments.
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 :
Bismillah Khan – Chaiti Dhun :
Bismillah Khan – Thumri Bhairavi – Aaye Na Balam :
Bismillah Khan – Dhun (from the film ‘Goonj Uthi Shehnai’) :
Bismillah Khan – Dhun – Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram :
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.
Indian folk music is diverse because of India’s vast cultural diversity. Folk music has been influential on classical music, which is viewed as a higher art form. Folk instruments and styles have impacted classical Ragas since ages. It is not uncommon for classical artists, both vocalists and instrumentalists, to perform in semi-classical or Thumri style. Presented here are a few musical pieces performed by some of the most renowned artists, in the light classical mood or folk form.
Bismillah Khan – Banarasi Folk Dhun (Shehnai) :
Ali Akbar Khan – Come Back My Love (Sarod) :
Sultan Khan – So Ja Re (Rajasthani Folk on Sarangi) :
Shujaat Khan – Lajo Lajo (Punjabi Folk on Sitar) :