Rudra Veena as the name depicts is related to Lord Shiva Rudra Veena is a difficult instrument and the instrument is also a perfect means to measure to weight the principles and grammar of our Dhrupad style of music. In our shastras Rudra Veena has a place of reverence it is believed that Lord Shiva looked at Parvati’s face and created this instrument this was the first ever stringinstrument which was bestowed upon the mortals by Lord Shiva himself.
In the beginning metal strings were not in use, strings made from animal guts were used. The very first Veena had only one string, which has been referred as Ektantri Veena. When the second string was added, it became Dwitantri Veena, then the Third string also go added and it was called Tritantri Veena, The addition of the Fourth string made it Chatusra Veena. After this many additions, innovations continued to make this instrument grow as a fine medium for producing great music.
In my family we have been playing this instrument for many generations. Even making of the instrument needs a musical mind and well-tuned ear. For example, even today I set the frets in wax and check the quality of sound and tuning, along with the craftsman to get a perfect end product. The first ever disciple of Lord Shiva, according to Shastras is Devarshi Narada who also plays Rudra Veena therefore this Veena is also called Narad Veena. There are other attributes also to this instrument – Paryati Veena, Sar Veena, Saraswati Veena soon and so forth. Rudra Veena is the most popular name and it is said to be a form of Shiva himself. The Veena which is played in South India is known as Saraswati Veena. Rudra Veena is played by resting the instrument on the shoulder. There is another popular name for this instrument been The instrument used by the snake charmers is not the Been, Been is another name for Rudra Veena, Beenkar means one who plays Rudra Veena. The snake charmers pipe is known as Pungi. Amir Khusro also refers to Rudra Veena as Been and has called it Meezan-E-Mousiqui”. This means Rudra Veena is a measuring instrument for perfect music. This is a balance in which grammar and principles of music and measured.
Now I am going to reveal a major secret to you. You must be wondering why this is played by resting it on the shoulder. When it is tuned while resting on ground, the sound is somewhat different whose who understand music who are trained to hear micro sound will recognize the difference. Chikari has been tuned to the Tanpuras but one string is producing a sound which is slightly higher. This string tuned to Shuddha Madhyama is a commonplace in all string instruments. Rudra It%eno has also given the method of tuning to all other string instruments like Sitar, Stir B&wr, Sarod and Sursingar. An all these instruments the main string is tuned in Shuddha Madhyama only. So in Rudra Veena this string seems to be higher than the required level while it is placed on the ground. Now, when I rest the Veena on my shoulder and it is fixed against the body, it is controlled by the body. Now when it is held against the body resting on the shoulder, the string which was seemingly at a higher level gets tuned to perfection. So this instrument is closely related to body, hence it has to be played by resting it on shoulder. You have almost to wear this instrument and make it part of your body. This also has to be held this way while sitting on Vajrasana. One has to acquire total control over breathing by constant practice. So this is almost a Sangeeta Yoga.
If this Veena is played by placing it on the ground like Saraswati Veena, one cannot play the specific An gas of Dhrupad style like Bidar Mg. Gamak Ang, Gamakjod etc.
Steeped in the spiritual ethos of his heritage Ustad Asad Ali Khan’s music is hallmarked by purity of style a mood of profound contemplation and serenly wondrous stroke play. His alaap is stamped with an expressive dignity that sets him apart in a class of his own. His renditions climax in a cascade of notes rendered to leave an all time imprint on the listener’s mind. It is this combination that makes him unparalleled not just amongst been performers but also amongst the musicians of the world. In agnage where fewer and fewer musicians are taking up the exacting art of playing the Rudra Veena Ustad Asad Ali Khan is a treasure house of India’s glorious musical heritage and the foremost preserver of the sublime art of rendering the dhrupad style on the Rudra Veena.
Having performed in some of the most prestigious music venues across the world he has over the years dedicated his time and energies to the continuation of the Rudra Veena tradition. Ustad Asad Ali Khan has talented disciples in many countries of the world besides India. Inheriting the family heritage his nephew Zaki Haider has also been living and learning with him since childhood.
Ustad Asad Ali khan musical genious has been embellished by several awards and honors. He holds the Veena Visharad degree from the Benaras Hindu University and has received the Sangeet Shiromani Award from the sangeet Natak Academy of Lucknow. He has been honored with the Sangeet Natak Academi Award in 1985 the Tirunal Dhrupad Award Kashi in 1988 the Delhi Sahita Kala Parishad Award in 1989 and the Tansen Award in 1994.
A veritable feast for all music lovers this VCD brings you some of the finest performances by eminent Rudraveena Vidwans of out times.
It is part of Doordarshan’s special series commemorating 100 years of recorded music in India.
The series is a tribute to all the great artistes who have contributed to India’s rich music and dance heritage.
Raga Bageshree 25:04
Dhrupad Bandish – Jhaptal
Pandit Gopal Das – Pakhawaj
Zaki Hyder – Tanpura
Gary Roba – Tanpura
Raga Chandrakauns 26.40
Dhrupad Bandish – Chautal
Mohan Shyam Sharma – Pakhawaj
Zaki Hyder – Tanpura
Tapus Banerjee – Tanpura