“The famous saying goes, ‘there is a time and place for everything.’ This was exactly the case as far as Bismillah Khan Saheb and I were concerned. We were scheduled to perform together in the year 1972 in the famous Durga Pooja celebrations in Patna, Bihar. When we sat down with our instruments in the morning, we were to whole tones apart, or a major third apart as I play in B Flat or B natural and he plays in D! However, we said that we’d work something out on stage not really knowing how we’d pull it off. Perhaps it was not in Mother Nature’s agenda as the open air venue was completely chaotic and somewhat destroyed due to very rain that day. Hence, the duet never took place.
Thirty – one years later, the prospect of playing together came up as a tribute to India’s soldiers who died at was. As always, it was so wonderful to meet Bismillah Khan Sahib (whom I kept meeting off and on during various music festivals), just that now he was eighty plus! Though when he held his Shehnai, I thought he was eighteen. I had a special Sarod made for this duet that went up to C Sharp as it was not possible for him (Shehnai being a wind instrument) to come to my tonic and it worked. We had this concert with no rehearsal whatsoever. It was mutual love and admiration that made this one of my most memorable joint ventures. Needless to mention the inspiring seven thousand people at a jam – packed Talkatora Stadium.”
Vaishnav Janato (Raga Khammaj) and Ram Dhun (Raga Ghara)
“We began our concert with two of Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite devotional songs, Vaishvan Janato and Ram Dhun. These are Two songs that every Indian has grown up listening to and these have almost become like national songs today. For traditionalists, this is our very own raga Khammaj and raga Ghara. Vaishnav Janato was basically an overture that was unaccompanied. Typical vocal phrases are translated our instruments. In many ways, we sang through them. The tablas make an entry in Ram Dhun, popularly known as Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram. Once the main structure is established, we take turns and improvise within the notes of the song. However, in mutual inspiration, we make flashes of a few near by Ragas. It’s like reading between the lines of aesthetics and poetry.
Structure is established; we take turns and improvise with the notes of the song. However, in mutual inspiration, we make flashes of a few associated ragas. It’s like reading between the lines of aesthetics and poetry.
Raga Maru Behag
The second track is the evergreen Raga Maru Behag. In the Alaap sectin, both Bismillah Khan Saheb and myself unfold the raga note by note. The very popular composition Rasiya that is common amongst vocalists is played. In technical terms, what we call Taans, tantrakaari baaj and udaans, all dominate our confluence in Maru Behag.
Dhun and Chaiti
The bizarre character of Indian Classical music is that nothing is planned…nothing remains the same on stage…everything changes to accommodate moods and emotions. These two pieces happened on stage. These are typical tunes from the historic city of Banaras. The Dhun is based more towards the upper octave, closer to raga Pilu, heard more commonly at Indian weddings. The Chaiti has the fifth note as a prominent note, close to the traditional Mishra Khammaj.
As the concert went over two hours, keeping Khan Saheb’s age in mind, I wanted to sum up fast. Initally, Bismillah khan Saheb was nearly packing up, but hearing raga Bhairvi, his inspiratin made this a very exceptional piece. We play very traditional compositions and once again do the old school techniques of tans, gayaki angs and udaans. Bhairavi is what we call Sada Suhaagan. It’s the only raga in Indian Classical music wherein all twelve notes are allowed to be used. Towads the end of the concert, there is an exciting jamming session between the brilliant Vijay Ghatey and Bismillah Khan Saheb’s son, Nizim Hussain. Both from distinctive schools brought the house down. Soon after the tabla duet the concert climaxes into memory lane.”
Accompanying artistes of
Amjad Ali Khan
Vijay Ghatey: Tabla
Nazim Hussain: Tabla
Bismillah Khan and Party
Volume – 1
1. Raga Maru Bihag – 29:42
2. Dhun (Chaiti) – 13:57
Volume – 2
1a. Vaishnav Janato – 05:26
2b. Ram Dhun – 22:35
2. Raga Bhairavi – 21:34