A boon to lovers of classic music
-- By
R. M. Kumtakar

THE CBS records and tapes manufacturing company has rendered a great service to lovers of classical music in india , whose number has in recent years increased vastly thanks to the renewed interest in our traditional arts that is in evidence all over the country its series of thirteen cassettes pertaining to the various aspects of the classical hindustani music of the north should serve as a boon to the students and connoisseurs alike it may not help one to master the classical art which is a matter of long and dedicated study and practice . the series can however spur and old a serious student to do so the large number of connoisseurs too would benefit from a better understanding through careful listening of the cassettes the characteristics intricacies and subtleties of hindustani music thereby enhancing their enjoyment of the art when they listen to performances at concerts and on the electronic media such as radio, television and recording the series is produced by chandiramani Enterprises.

Carefully planned to introduce the listener to the various aspects of the hindustani system in an easy -to -grasp and understand stages three of the cassettes are devoted to the classical art like the bhajans the thumris and the ghazals which are avidly listened to and enjoyed because of their devotional or lyrical appeal the offerings are tuned in various raags and set in various taals as in every cassette of the series presenting some aspect or the other in these three cassettes too focus is given to the raags the melodic pattem and the taals the rhythmic patterns these two aspects and their interelationform the very basis of the performing art care is taken to acquaint the listener to as many raag and taals as possible An example is the cassette titled bhakti varsha presenting welve bhajans sung by shruti sodolikar (now mrs katkar) a popular young exponent of classical singing the devotional offerings rendered with feeling by the singer are tuned by chandiramani and bhulo C rani and are from the famous medieval saints ramdas, kabrir, surdas, haridas, tulsidas, kamal bhahmanand, namdeo, nanak, khalas, meerabai and dadu appropriate to the weghtage of the offerings the tunes are mostly set in heavy raags of the morning variety like ahir bhairav bhibhas bilaskhani tadi and bairagi again appropriately enough the percussion support is given on the ancient heavy sounding pakhwaj played by one of its leading performers arjun shejwal the taals chosen too are mostly from the uncommon variety in various mantras (beats) from vikram taal of six beats to Vishnu taal of sixteen beats.

The traditional thumris have been presented in two cassettes collected by vocalist krishnarao chonkar thy have been rendered in a melodious and mobile voice by shruti katkar with competent table accompaniment provided by shridhar padhye taking the first cassette as an example the raag of its eight offerings are generally of the lighter and catchy variety like the kafi in which the very first number , "pie to await nah " is tuned the raags of the other numbers which are normally used for the thumris are dhani tilang pilu khamaj and mishra khamaj the familiar light classical offering the chaiti with its mukhda ab ke saawan ghar aa is set in the last mentioned raag the only exception of a heavy raag is the pathasloden moming melody jog in which the last numbers "pie ke milne ke aas is tuned . most of the number are set in taal deepchandi of fourteen beats which goes well for such light offerings all the numbers except the last one end with a brisk and lively lag play on the tabla.

The second cassette which offers ten traditional thumris covers another set of raags that are normally used in the offering of that nature .the raags are jhinjati manned janglla pahari sind bhairavi garg des tilak kamod and bhairavi singer shruti katkar gives a liberal display of phirat taans tum khelat hori set in adha taal remind one of certain offerings of the marathi natya sangit which is also a repositorey of classical music having drown liberally from its raag and light classical varieties.

The ghazals offered in a cassette which have been described as soz-e-dill (soulfl) classical ghazals because of the strong classical base of the strong classical base of the offerings are generally set in mixed melodies from various thaats (families of raags) they go well with the leisurely rendered numbers with lines repeated to bring home the subtle poetic thought s the urdu lyrics come from among others famous poets such as mires ghailb adage Delhi Sequa and Mir Taqi Mir.

Tuned once again by Chandiramani and Bhulo C. Ranni the number are rendered melodiously and feelingly by shruti sodolikar usha amonkar and kavita krishnamurthi. The 'taals' range from 'Dadra' and 'Pushtu' respectively.

In the cassette titled 'Mouj' Sitar player chandrashekhar naringrekar presents a somewhat elaborate version of six heavy and rather uncommon raags saraswati nat bhairav and hari kouns on one side and jog ahir lalit and kakila deepokom on the other accompaniment provided arjun she jwal on the pakhwaj instead of the familiar tabla makes for delightful listening the taals aodi taal and matta taal surface chautaal and dhamar one get on idea of the intricacies of instrumental music.

A useful cassette, by virtue of its great instructional value, is the one titled 'Sitar, Raag aur Taal'. Naringrekar presents two 'raags' in each of the ten 'thaats' ( families of raags') of classical Hindustani music. Each 'raag' is set in a different 'taal'. That means the cassette offers twenty different 'raags' and twenty different 'taals'. For example, in the opening 'Bhairav thaat', the instrumentalist presents the morning 'raags' 'Bibhas' and 'Bairagi' set respectively in 'dadra taal of six beats and roopak-taal of seven beats a brief outline of the raag is followed by a short elaboration this in turn is followed by a smile easy-to -graspgat specially composed by the performer and which is played to the accompaniment of the tabla the offerings convey basic features of raag elaboration on the sitar it is worth noting how the taals jhoomra deepchandi adachautaal and dhamar give different character and movement to the gats in respective raags they are played in spite of the fact that all have the same number of beats -fourteen the beats are however pottered differently able tabla accompaniment is provided by shridhar padhye.

Two cassettes titled saaz raag our taal vols. 1 and 2 enable one to get profitably acquainted with the large number of musical instrument covered include the wide variety of the string instruments (bowed plucked and strummed) and the wind instruments the first cassette covers the familiar instrument like the flute thesurbahar the jalatarong the tarshehnai the saunter the harmonium the sarong the vichitra veena the tabla tarring the Delrina thesarod the sitar and the thane the brief performances on these instruments traditionally associated with them for example the thane is accompanied on the nagger drum the tarshehnai on the droll and flute presenting a falk melody on the high-pitched kohl drum of Bengal the falk appeal of this combination is further enhanced with additional percussion support on minor instrument like the modal the ghungru the cha-cha mangier the karat and the chimera most other recitals are accompanied either on the pakhwaj or the familiar tabla the raag and its number of beats of each recital is given in the inlay card for information the student or connoisseur is provided with every opportunity to get acquainted with melodies and rhythms and their inter-relation the music in the cassette is attriibuted to instumentalist Vinayak Vora .

An acquaintance with familiar instruments mostly of the folk variety of music and some from the carnatic system of the south is provided in isolation in the beginning are the familiar drone instrument the tanpura the smaller taboorim the ancient shankh the temple bell and the various regional one -string instruments like the maharashtrian ektara the bengal ektara and the assamese ektara each with its own tanal quality , they are accompanied on appropriate drums then follow the instruments of the Carnatio system (they are played in carnatic raags and taals) the gottuvadyam the flute the saraswati veena and the violin . A short recital of the 'taal vadya kaccheri' a group performance of percussion is presented all the solo recities are accompanied on the nadaswaram counterpart of the shehnai accompanied on tavil counterpart of the swarmandai the kashtatarong the kachtarang the rabab the isrcl and the folk instruments the ravanhatta and the poongi a composer with creative imagination would be able to reap a rich harvest especially for the background score in film music with such a large variety of musical instruments demonstrated in these two cassettes the music is attributed to Vinayak Varo and Mr Kalyana Raman.

The vocal counterpart of the casssette of instrumental music sitar raag our taal presenting two raags in each of the ten thaats are the two cassettes gayaki raag our taal vols 1 & 2 in these cassettes too two raags in each of the ten thaats not necessarily the same as the sitar player s offerings are presented by vocalists shruti katkar and pandit krishnarao chankar shruti who opens the recitals with raag ramakoli from the bhairavi thaat begins with a sustained rendering of so the basic note of the musical octave she then gives an outline of the raag by rendering the note pattem in aaraha and avraha the ascending and descending orders respectively with stress on certain notes and repetition of their movement is not necessarily linear but they give the melody the character and appeal after presenting the outline the singer renders cheez a lyrical composition set in the raag and which is oriented to the characteristics of the melody in the course of rendering the composition hari hari sumar na aam which is set in taal dadra the singer unfolds the melody with all its embellishments of taans and flourishes.

Kirshnarao next renders raag saurashtra tunk another melody from the bhairavi thaat in similar fashion his composition katata vikar is set in taal roopak after this the two vocalist render respectively variationsof raag todi khat todi and bahadhuri todi and go on to present twenty raags set in twenty different taals with accent on simplicity one may feel that the performances are not of hither concert standard but one is more than compensated with their instructional value.

A cassette which is more comprehensive in its instructional function is the one titled raag sargam our taal in fact a serious student of music can even pick up the twenty raags and the equal number of taals presented by listening to the cassette over and over again and with some practical guidance from one who knows the cassette again present two raags from each of the ten thaats beginning with bhairav of the bhairav thaat and ending with bhairavi of the bhairavi thaat all the number are presented by pandit krishanarao chankar noted vocalist and veteran singer- actor of the marathi musical stage who had worked with the celebrated bal Gandharva.

Chankar first announces raag and the taal then reveals the thaat of the raag and the number of beats of the taal renders the bols (syllabic expressions of the various beats) and finally renders the sargam ( note pattem) of raag in the rhythmic pattern played on the tabla by shridhar padhye after the vocal ist presents the outline of the raag in sargam his harmonium accompanist baban manjrekar continues with the melodic pattern for the percussionist to display same of his improvisations which go to provide additional knowledge to the listener about the performing technic in music most of the taal chosen are familiar they range from dadra of six beats to teentaal and tilwada of sixteen beats The magnitude and complexity of the rhythm in indian music has baffled the world we have the richest and the highly developed percussion art ever so many rhythmic patterns have been evolved and codified over the centuries the last two cassettes in the CBS series on indian music deal in an exhaustive manner with this vital aspect of the classified art the first of these cassettes titled rhythms on pakhwaj presents as many as thirty-eight varieties of twenty-three taals played on the pakhwaj which was in vogue when the dhrupad dhamar style of singing was in practice the tabla took over and became popular with the emergence of the khayal singing the taals in the pakhwaj cassette range from the familiar keharva of four beats of which three varieties are given to the unfomilliar shravan neel taal of twenty-one beats and magdha taals their varieties and respective beats are announced by a narrator arjun shejwal readers the instrument The second cassette rhythms on tabla prests as many as fifty-two varieties of twenty-seven taals in the same fashion most of them are familiar to the conoisseurs the maximum number of varieties (five) are in the some what unfamiliar taal pancham savrai of fifteen beats the taais are rendered by Shridhar Padhye.