Friday, October 29, 2010

Dipali Nag

Dipali Nag (1922-2009) of the Agra Gharana set standards that most would find hard to match. She was an MA in English literature, studied Western music at Trinity College, and was trained from girlhood in Hindustani classical music by Tasaduq Hussain and Bashir Khan, the main teaching ustads of the Agra Gharana, with advanced training by Ustad Faiyaz Khan from 1938 till her marriage. She was a regular khayal performer at music conferences of yore all over India and on AIR. Her interviews of classical maestros on radio and later on television were trailblazers.

Dipali Nag was born on February 22, 1922 at Darjeeling. Her father, Jiban Chandra Talukdar, was a Professor of History in Agra. She took to Hindustani classical music at an early age. In those days when women singers from cultured homes were almost a rarity, Dipali Nag stood out as a source of inspiration, pioneering the spread of classical and semi-classical music among the ladies. She started broadcasting from All India Radio in 1939 and her recordings with HMV and other recording companies were also in the same year.

Dipali Nag - Raga Jaunpuri - Chhananana Bichchua Baje :  Download

Dipali Nag - Raga Bihag Bandish - Chooriyan Baar Baar :  Download

Dipali Nag - Raga Bhairavi Thumri :  Download

Dipali Nag - Raga Jaijaiwanti :  Download

Dipali Nag was about twenty years old when she married Dr. B D Nag Chowdhury, an eminent scientist (of Nag missile fame) and scientific advisor to Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India. A versatile person, Dipali Nag later earned her PhD from Berkley, authored books and articles that earned her great renown, delivered lectures in different parts of the globe and participated in numerous concerts. She passed away on December 20, 2009 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat following a major cerebral attack.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Instrumental magic

India has a rich source of instrumental music with its innumerable kinds of musical instruments be it classical, traditional or folk. The mild and melodious tunes of bansuri or the healing sound of sitar, each one soothes the mind and soul. Instrumental music can be used as the best kind of meditation music. The beautiful sounds of instruments help the mind and soul to relax and concentrate on a single thought.

Hariprasad Chaurasia - Raga Pilu Dhun (Bansuri) :  Download

Ravi Shankar - Raga Gara (Sitar) :  Download

Raghunath Seth - Raga Yaman (Bansuri) :  Download

Usman Khan - Raga Pahadi (Sitar) :  Download

.. more instrumental music »

Friday, October 22, 2010

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 »

Thursday, October 21, 2010

78rpm vintage : Zohra Bai 'Agrewali'

Zohra Bai (1868-1913) of the Agra Gharana, or Zohra Bai Agrewali as she came to be known as, was easily the best female singer at the turn of the 19th century. Along with Gauhar Jan, she marks the dying phase of the courtesan singing tradition in Indian classical music. She had her talim from Ustad Sher Khan, Ustad Kallan Khan and Mehboob Khan, the great composers of Khayals and Thumris.

Known equally for Khayal as well as lighter varieties of classical music, she learnt Thumri and Ghazals from Ahmad Khan of Dacca. Her many records going back to the first 15 years of the last century have not yet been dated, unlike records of some of her contemporaries. It is said that Faiyaz Khan, the greatest Ustad of the Agra Gharana, was influenced by Zohra Bai's style of singing. The famed Bade Ghulam Ali Khan of the Patiala Kasur Gharana also held her in very high esteem.

Zohra Bai Agrewali - Basant - Tore Jele Jele Ede Ede :  Download

Zohra Bai Agrewali - Bhupali Tarana :  Download

Zohra Bai Agrewali - Gaud Sarang - Kajrare Gori Tere Nain :  Download

Zohra Bai Agrewali - Miya Ki Todi - Allah Jane Jane :  Download

Zohra Bai Agrewali - Sohni - Dekh Dekh Man Lalchaye :  Download

Zohra Bai Agrewali - Zila - Koyaliya Kuk Sunave :  Download

.. more 78rpm vintage songs »

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Four random songs 14

Once again here are a few songs picked up randomly, this time from the relatively younger lot of female vocalists. These are real gems deserving of the true connoisseur of Hindustani classical music.

Kaushiki Chakrabarty - Khamaj Dadra - Bhig Jaun Main :  Download

Sawani Shende - Dhani - Chatur Balma Saiyan Mora :  Download

Shweta Jhaveri - Bhairavi - Prabhuji Tum Chandan Hum Pani :  Download

Tripti Mukherjee - Sughari - Drut Teental :  Download

.. more Random Songs »

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Raga guide 1

Many of us who are new to Hindustani classical music, and have just started to appreciate it, would want to know the basic structure of each Raga. Although classical music is a vast subject and cannot be understood by merely listening to music samples, it would be of immense help to many to have an insight on each Raga. In this series of 8-9 posts I will cover about 40-45 most sung Ragas. At the beginning of each song the vocalist, Subhra Guha of Agra Gharana, explains the basic structure of the Raga that is being sung. There are a few technical terms spoken by her during this briefing. Without delving into the technicalities, I will describe just these.

Each one of the several traditional Ragas is based on, or is a variation of, 10 basic Thaats, or musical scales or frameworks. The ten Thaats are Bilawal, Kalyan, Khamaj, Bhairav, Poorvi, Marwa, Kafi, Asavari, Bhairavi and Todi,. If one were to pick a Raga at random, it should be possible to find that it is based on one or the other of these Thaats.

Aroha presents the ascending scale of a Raga, whereas Avroha presents the descending scale. Pakad is the phrase of melody belonging to a Raga. It is the very essence of a Raga containing all its elements and individuality. It is something unique and not transferable to some other Raga.

Ragas are presented here in alphabetical order.

Subhra Guha - Raga Alahiya Bilawal (late morning) :  Download

Subhra Guha - Raga Barwa (early evening) :  Download

Subhra Guha - Raga Bhairavi (any time) :  Download

Subhra Guha - Raga Bhankar (early morning) :  Download

Subhra Guha - Raga Bhimpalasi (early afternoon) :  Download

.. basics of Indian Raga »

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Instrumental delights

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.

N Rajam - Raga Kafi (Violin) :  Download

Ravi Shankar - Raga Malkauns (Sitar) :  Download

Bismillah Khan - Raga Basant (Shehnai) :  Download

Shivkumar Sharma - Raga Sohni (Santoor) :  Download

.. more Instrumental music »

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Afroz Bano : thumri

Afroz Bano is one of India's most popular exponents of thumri. Gifted with a powerful voice, which has mellowed through sustained riyaz, she is recognised for her ability to sensitively interpret the range of emotions demanded by the text of the poems that she sings. In addition to thumri, Afroz Bano is equally adept in the styles of Ghazal, Bhajan and Rajasthani Mand. She has also sung for Hindi films.

Afroz Bano - Tilak Kamod - More Raja Nahin Aaye :  Download

Afroz Bano - Pilu - Nadiya Kinare Moro Gaon :  Download

Afroz Bano - Kaushik Dhwani - Nazariya Laag Rahi Kisi Or :  Download

Afroz Bano - Bhairavi - Ho Gayi Beriya Piya Ke Aavan Ki :  Download

Afroz Bano - Misra Mand - Kesariya Baalam :  Download

The concert, recorded in 2003, includes compositions based on established ragas. For this recital Afroz Bano has chosen the traditional thumri accompaniment of Sarangi, Tabla and Harmonium. The Sarangi is the most accurate instrument to imitate the subtle nuances of the thumri style.

.. listen to more thumris »