Excerpts from a recent concert

First post for 2016… have been away for some time ..

Here’s a post from a recent concert….raw audio/video…

The setting was in a private residence in a beautiful part of Melbourne called Eltham… and it had a resident peacock which kept calling out at times..

I have added some description of the content sequence in the Youtube video notes…

Meeting with Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan on his recent Australian visit.

Here is a picture of us together. We had a good exchange of thoughts and ideas and tips for practice..
Rahul_USPK_2015

Excerpt from a recent concert

Over this weekend (9th August), I had the opportunity to play with percussionist Shubh Maharaj…. we played Nayaki and Sughrai Kanada, and Bhimpalasi..

Here’s a brief except from one part of the concert…presented under the banner of Raag Rung – organised by Sangeet Sandhya, Melbourne…..

Eternal Favourite: Raga Darbari

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:

A digression for the New Year : Raga Desh (Des)

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….

Of particular interest to me were compositions in fast 12 beat time cycle (Ektaal), and by fast, I mean reasonably fast, much faster than what can be usually played on the sarod (especially in the older styles, who emphasize the plectrum hand more than the hand playing the notes).
However, this approach has great risks – the real possibility of going offkey at any time due to the speed.
So, the only way to get the perfect note is to relax. But if you are rushing at this speed, it’s hard to relax !!
Hence, perfection at this speed can only come from being in a fully meditative state – being one with the composition – from hours and months of practice, to the point that your mind has overcome the mechanical stress of getting the notes out, and is focussing on the nuances instead. A tiny nuance can completely change the whole feeling of the composition.. and this is something that should be spontaeneous, not contrived. That’s the whole appeal of Hindustani Classical Music – the element of spontaenity and surprise…
As a great fan of both the vocal style and that of my teacher -sitar maestro Ustad Shahid Parvez, I concocted two compositions from each of these idioms.


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.

The second one is a very famous vocal composition called : Beeti Jata Barkha Ritu
Beeti Jaat Barkha Ritu
Piya Na Aaye, Ae Ri
Ae Ri,
(O friend, The monsoon season is slipping by,
but my beloved hasn’t come yet)
I forget the second part of the composition, having looked  at this a long time ago…
Ideally, I would have played this at a slower speed, because it allows better use of subtle embellishments, which get squeezed out at higher speeds.
Des is such a beautiful raga … compositions in every possible taal abound, so this selection is very niche…