Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan on his recent Australian visit.
I’m back again on my all time favourite raga, the king of the Indian Raga pantheon : The King of Ragas, The raga of Kings : Raga Darbari
Darbari lends itself naturally to the sarod, with its deep introspective tone. There are many good compositions in Darbari, and I thought I’d showcase one particular one which is not heard publicly much nowadays,
I’ve recorded – Raga Darbari, Drut Ektaal (fast 12 beat tempo) by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, which he first played in the 80s – and then very rarely thereafter. In fact, this composition is hardly heard nowadays. I outline the composition without rhythmic metre and then the “implementation” of it at 250 bpm fast 12 beat cycle (Ektaal) -which is a tad faster than the original.
This compositions was originally played to tabla accompaniment with Sabir Khan, in what constitutes one of the definitive Darbari recordings of all time.
I decided to play the composition at length without rhythm to expose the subtleties of this composition. This is a multi layered construct – there are a lot of things going on – the mood of this grave raga, an underlying rhythmic framework, as well as a structure built on that famous masterpiece by Ustad Amir Khan (vocal) – Yaare Man Biyan Biyan. The composition balances the competing pressures of technical activity with keeping the mood of the raga intact (it doesn’t take much to destroy Darbari’s gravity, turning it into a Bollywood song – the poor raga has been much abused in this manner)
Then I play the full composition with the metre at 250bpm.
Here is the Youtube video:
Off overseas for some time…
Following a concert performance, I’ve created a page on the wonderful melody Pilu
I woke up on New Year’s Day 2015 with a burning desire to play Raga Des (Desh), a beautiful raga from the Khamaj group of ragas which I’ve written about before….
Firstly, the USPK (USPK is shorthand for Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan) composition – what I like about this is the symmetry of the composition. As with everything he plays, there is a method and a plan. I’ve changed everything except the first line, but have tried to keep the same theme going.
I recently had the opportunity to discuss sound production as a subject with senior indian classical instrumentalists.
I recently read Steve Martin’s autobiography : Born Standing Up
Part philosophical treatise, part how-to guide, it’s a deep dive into how a performance is created-an intersection of art and science, intense honesty and brutal self examination. He delivers an elegant and sophisticated analysis of his journey from Disneyland to sold out shows and hit movies with not a single gripe against anyone, solely focusing on improving his art using audience reaction as his guide. Whether you play classical music or hard rock or dance Bollywood and are serious about your art form, this book delivers invaluable insights.
Key points for me were:
1. A performance requires special planning and treatment, especially if you have a paying audience
2. It takes time to develop your own style – you will inevitably start out with someone else’s material, but with hard work and honesty, you can develop your own
3. This is a long hard slog
4. Complaining about how the world is sabotaging you is probably not a good strategy – no -one owes you a living.
5. Intense and brutal self examination is important, as is the advice of mentors and seniors.
I’ve got the Kalyan work off and running by discussing in brief, the wonderful raga Nand Kalyan…also known simply by its shorter name, Nand, or Anandi….