Art, Culture and Aesthetics

South Asian Music and Dance

Vidushi Kishori Amonkar – Raga Gauda Sarang


I had uploded a composition on Gaud Malhaar earlier. This is a composition in Gaud Saarang …”palana laagi mori akhiyaan”

Visudhi Kishori Amonkar – Echoes of Sufi Chants


Beguna guna gayiye …. this is in praise of Allah

Check out they way she calls out to Allah five times in succession at the begining – ablolutely divine !!

Kishori ji injected an intensely emotional and contemplative element into the otherwise highly structural Jaipur Gharana, thereby creating her a unique style of her own.

Karim Naam Teero


Karim naam tero – a composition by Adarang in Raga Mian ke Malhaar …

If I am not mistaken the singer is Pandit A.T.Kanan

This is a fantastic blend of two mediums … great music and great cinematography !!

Tarana in Raga Gaud Saarang


The Ustaad Rashid Khan bug has bitten me on this solitary afternoon in far away Sierra Leone.

Sharing an amazing rendition of a “Tarana” in one of my favorite ragas – Raga Gaud Saarang…. Simply love the way Ustaad Ji treats this raga with a feather touch, particularly when he sings the refrain. The refrain appears so delicate and entreating (particularly the Shadaj–Pancham, Shadaj-Dhaivat, Teevra Madhyam-Pancham glides glides)… almost verging on the sensuous.

Gaud Saarang is a raga associated with the mid day. But then north Indian classical ragas are as much, if not more, about representing / engendering subtle psychological states, as they are of a physical depiction of nature or seasons!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Raga Hamsadhwani


Raaga Hamsadhwani is a pentatonic melody that has its origin in the South Indian Classical Music tradition. Being pentatonic, it skips 2 notes and combined with its overall structure and progression, it attains a sprightly, fresh and cheerful character. It is a wonderful raaga that fills the singer and the listener with positive energy and and sense of well being and is often the first raaga rendered by an artist in a concert.

On the occasion of the Bengali New Year – Pohela Boishakh (the 1st of Baishakh), I am delighted to share with you all an amazing clip of the Raaga by Ustaad Rashid Khan.

Like the Raaga, may the new near be filled with positive energy, well-being and happiness.

Shubho Nobo-borsho !!!

Ode to Raga Gaud Saarang


An Ode to Raga Gaud-Saarang

Saturday – got up very late, made some tea and had some Nice biscuits with it. Wanted to go to the beach but it started pouring outside. Retreating in my little villa by the slop of the hill, the next best thing to do was to listen to some music.

I switched on my MP 3 player to listen to the full bodied voice of Vidushi Padma Talwalkar rendering Raga Gaud -Saarang, a non linear scale of north Indian classical music.

Gaud-Saarang, an exquisite raga is supposed to have it origins in Bengal. It is a typical mid-day Raga and has an element of loneliness – reminiscent of the languor of the afternoons and the peaceful solitude it can sometimes bring. Given it slightly peculiar movement and mood, the Raga is also strongly associated with the monsoons.

A rainy afternoon on a weekend can be intensely lonely and the vagrant mind can easily move towards depressive thoughts. This is indeed a stock theme of many an Indian classics including Kalidasa’s Meghdutam and hundreds of hauntingly beautiful songs and poems of Tagore on the rains. My mind seemed to follow the tendency till I heard the first few notes of the Gaud Sarang.

To my surprise, I was soon overcome with a sense of peaceful solitude, of a sense of joy indescribable.

Reinforced is my belief that if there is anything that can help us transcend the “vulgarities” of the human condition and lead us towards the infinite, it is good MUSIC !

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan


I am delighted to share this amazing piece of Indian Classical music by one of our stalwarts. This represents thousands of years of unbroken aesthetic evolution – something that plays not only on one’s senses but also on the mind.

The fundamental distinction between Western Classical Music and Indian Classical Music, in my view, is that while the former conveys a mood, the latter creates the mood – often different m

Ghatam


Ghatam is a a simple earthen pot which in the hands of the master musician (Sri. Karthik) produces an amazing range of musical sounds.

In addition to the range of sounds, check out the complex rhythmic patterns (the Tala cycles) and the varied speeds of 2, 4 and 8 (what is often referred to asl “layakaari”).

Hope you all enjoy it.

A rare song by Balasaraswaty


An exquisite adapatation of La Violetera (Stanley Black’s version) into Tamil… The artist has sung it so delicately and the song just lifts the listener to a different level.

A great example of how good music knows no barriers.

Dance of the Enchantress

The Dance of the Enchantress:

Sharing and exquisite documentary (a French production) directed by Maestro Adoor Gopalakrishnan on Mohiniattam – the exquisitely delicate and refined classical dance form of Kerala, India.

Apart from outstanding cinematography, the other features of the documentary are its sublime music, traditional Kerala architecture, some amazing dance performances and insights into the traditional teaching learning method of Indian classical dance.

This documentary in my view epitomizes the refined albeit restrained aesthetic sensibility of Kerala and its people.

It is a little over an hour long, but worth every second of the footage.

A special thanks to Roi Raj for referring this documentary to me.

Echos of Sufi Chants


Pt. Kishori Amonkar singing “Beguna guna gayiye” in raga Miyan ke Todi.

In addition to the intensely contemplative and meditative aspect of the rendition (for which Kishori Ji is so famous), one can see the flashes of the highly complex structure of the Jaipur Gharana taankaari (intricately woven melodic tapestry) which forms the bedrock of the artist’s music.

Todi is an early morning raga (scale) in the north Indian classical music system and has a highly plaintive yet grand quality to it. I think Kishori Ji brings out the Karuna Rasa (compassion) and the Shaanta Rasa (blissful peace) of this raga very well.

Hope you all enjoy it.

Mohtarma Farida Khanam


There are much better studio recordings of this song by this great Diva of Ghajals, but I decided to upload this version (the recording is not very good) rendered in the autumn of her life, as a classic example in which the boundary between art and the artist gets completely blurred! Check out the intonation, voice modulation and the way she emphasizes some of the words. Delighted to share this recording of a beloved.

Vidushi Lata Mangeshkar – Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par


Yesterday, late in the evening as I was reorganizing my collection of CDs in our new house in Vientiane, I came across a 4-CD compilation of songs by Lata Mangeshkar, recorded from the 40s of the last century to the turn of the new century. I hadn’t played these CDs for very long.

As I dusted the CD cover, I thought I will check out some of the songs. The song that came to life was “Ahsaan Teera Hoga mujh par”.

Lata Ji’s ethereal voice, aided by the fantastic acoustics of our wooden house, created sheer magic. It felt like a voice descending from the heavens.

The song brought back a flood of warm memories – of a period much before the arrival of Television in India – of a childhood spent listening to the Radio, particularly the Binaca Geet Maala of Radio Ceylon Hindi Service (the oldest Radio Station in Asia, which in those days regularly broadcast Hindi and Urdu songs regularly) and subsequently the Vividh-bharati / All India Radio.

A diva and a legend in life time – the very embodiment of the concept of “Saraswati” (the Hindu deity of learning and arts) Lata Ji moulded the sensibilities of five generations of listeners over an uninterrupted and unprecedented career spanning a stupendous 70 years !!!

Hers was a natural style that was pregnant with feelings and emotion without being dramatic or theatrical. Aided by outstanding lyricists and music directors, Lata Ji elevated film music / play back singing (a genre that is quite unique to south Asia) to the level of “High Art”.

In a special tribute to this living legend, I am sharing a live recording of the song “Ahsaan Teera Hoga” with members.

I chose this particular version because it captures the bygone era when the singer sang along with the instrumentalists as a team, underscoring an amazing and spontaneous chemistry between all the artists. This is in sharp contrast to contemporary recording practice in which the singer records separately, the instrumentalists record separately and all these are “mixed” together in a laboratory, often with the incorporation of additional synthetic sounds and special sound effects.

Vidushi Lata Mangeshkar – Raina beeti jaye


Last in the series of three all time greats by Lata. This time it is Sharmila – another very beautiful (not very sure of her acting though) Bengali actress.

Please ignore the ham acting by Rajesh Khanna. Other than than, hope you all enjoy it. The song is heartwrenchingly beautiful.

Vidushi Lata Mangeshkar – Rahe na rahe hum


Sharing one of my favorite songs of Lata Ji… The lyricist is Majrooh Sultanpuri and the music is by Roshan. This is, in my view one of the finest examples of a fantastic blend of lyrics, melody and emotion (that of sweet pathos).

I find a striking resemblance between the fundamental spirit of the song with that of Tagore’s “Jokhon Porbe Na Mor Payer Chinho Ae Bate”.

Hope you all enjoy this.

Monsoons arrive in India


The Monsoons have arrived in South Asia and how best to celebrate this than with a beautiful song?

In this song, the earth and the sky are distant lovers who make love through the rains. The rhythms of this union sets the clouds and winds into frenzies, the air to be redolent with the fragrance of the ‘malati’ blossoms, the melodies to spring forth amidst the celebration of life and the green earth to tremble in ecstasy.

It is amazing how Tagore has subtly laced this sprightly song on the monsoon with such exquisite erotic/sensual elements. In this, I think he comes next only to the great 5th century (CE) Sanskrit poet Kalidasa.

Nandita Yasmin


Sharing an exquisite rendition of a song of Tagore by artist Nandita Yasmin – a favorite artist of mine and amongst the foremost contemporary exponents of this genre…

Endless wealth do you possess
Alas satisfied you are not with that
You insist on taking from me
All that you have given, all that I have

You make me the giver
And yourself the beggar
Abandoning your chariot
And tread on the dust

For age after age
You walk besides me, hand in hand

Rabindranath Tagore

(crude trans-creation by me)

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