Category Archives: Music Class

Our Recent Performances in Apollo Foundation

Breezy Sunday evening it was, when we reached a pleasant, cute little area amphitheatre in Apollo Hospital. Cute because it was a compact one having the occupancy (stairs) of may be just 100 people. The venue did not disturb any other architectural aroma of the well-built hospital. I reached to see my students already seated grabbing the staircases. It was highly embarressing. Anyways, I greeted, wished everyone: met and encouraged my students and of course praised them as they all were in Sarees (girls) and Kurta-pajama (Males); wished Vani ji-the main person behind all this (Founder of Bharatiya kala Samskruti) Met and selfied with Snehal Ji my co-performer. The tabla person, Shobha Ji-another volunteer of BKS and my friend, I met Vinaya Mam whom I invited for lighting lamp. I think thats when the program started by we (Dignitaries, me and Snehal) on stage, presenting and receiving fruits and lighting lamp.

Program started with a beautiful Saraswati Vandana by  two talented girls -Srijitha, and Srijanya, followed by an interesting Sanskrit play by the kids of BKS which had a great significance. I loved the interest and accuracy of pronunciation with which the students were performing. After Vande Mataram by everyone, Snehal and I started the Jugalbandi recital by Raga Multani followed by raga Maru Bihag.

Raga Multani

Raga Maru Bihag

I am highly overwhelmed to perform not only because I thought sane very well but more because I was enjoying while singing without even a speck of thoughts shifts on audience, lights, incorrect stuffs by me etc. however, the tabla pitch did not seem matching but I continued as it was of no use. Table person thought he is CORRECT 🙁   Anyways, the point is I had a great time overall and in addition, I got a lot of applauses later which is temporary I know (So that’s not an elating factor).

Segment-2 was the students or group performances by our students. After Snehal’s students performed, my females students group started off with raga Bihag which went absolutely superb and beyond my expectation. It was again an ecstatic moment for me because the students are not at all the kids who are good at grasp or who are always in touch with their practices or controlled by parents. They are the IT-professional who spent most of the time, even late nights, in their offices. The only aspect which got them their was their immense interest and guts to learn music after prolonged hectic schedules. Moreover, they are adults of course, so its anyways harder to grasp the classical music stuffs. STILL THEY REALLY WORKED HARD AND PERFORMED….SO HUGE ROUND OF APPLAUSE TO THE GIRLS!!!! BTW, it was their first time on stage!!

Raga Bihag

 

Another recital was by the boys, who presented raga Bhimpalasi. It went very well but lacked in practice. Shubhrajyoti, (the black kurta) performed really great and I was overjoyed by the fact that he will really flourish in music.

Raga Bhimpalasi

Last but not the least was the performance of my two favourite tiny lil students, combination of utter mischief, intelligence, innocence, cuteness, musical-ness, GEETHA & ARJUN. I do have many kids-students but not so serious and dedicated like them. I liked the way they  first introduced what they had to sing and started off. There was not even a pinch of nervousness on their faces. They recited Raga Bhupali and raga Yaman. GOD BLESS 🙂 Here is the performance:

Raga Bhupali and Yaman by Kids:

 

Great Performances!!!! KUDOS!! HATS OFF!! APPLAUSE!!  CLAPS!! TO ME 😉

Ragas: My new course

Namaste,

Indian classical music mainly concerns about Ragas. The more you dive deep down in this ocean, you attain some valuable ambrosia of new knowledge and perceptions. But before that, we need to understand some basic knowledge of the fundamental Ragas, which are the stepping stones in this journey of bliss.

Welcome to my new course on udemy, which introduces Ragas. In this course you will be able to master five Ragas which belongs to the Thaat Kalyan: Yaman, Kedar, Bhoopali, Nand, and Hansdhwani. Here is the introductory video. Please have a look.

Music Traditions Or ‘Gharana’ System In Indian Classical Music: An Analysis

Traditions or Gharana system play an essential role in Indian Classical music. Tradition refers to Gharanas of music or the stylization of singing. Here is how Gharanas are conceptualized: Its like a person who is known as Kaushik, sings and his style, note-treatment, raga-treatment, techniques of voice production becomes popular and liked by everyone. That style or ‘gayaki’ is picked up and imitated by many musicians including his disciples, siblings and kids. When 50 people assemble to sing and share a specific common style, which is exclusive, popularized and appreciated by the masses, the style is eventually called ‘Kaushik Gharana’. Though there is no Gharana as such. Moreover, Gharana are nomenclated by the places from where the musician and their descendants belong to, such as Agra Gharana, Delhi Gharana, Patiala, Bhindibazaar, Rampur-Seheswan, Atrauli, Gwalior, Kirana, Mewati, Jaipur. As you observe Gharana names are based on the places where the root musicians settled and opened their musical start-up.

Aptly perceived by the Sitar Maestro Purbayan Chatterji, “A gharana is a place where a great Ustad or a great Pandit settled and started teaching his students,”

Music Traditions Or 'Gharana' In Indian Classical Music: An Analysis

Music Traditions Or ‘Gharana’ In Indian Classical Music: An Analysis

During the Muslim invsion in India, the veteran court musicians made a respected place in the kingdoms. They used to pass on their Gayaki to their descendants and disciples and the tradition emerged through generations. This is how Gharanas or ‘singing style’ of a particular place sailed their own musical cruise. Gharanas, even today, has maintained the reputation and dignity of music by its immense innovation in ragas, bandish (composition), Talas and music-genres and what not.

According to Purbayan, “The patronage of the Mughal rulers to arts brought forth many talents from different parts of North India. Musicians would travel around, performing in different courts, until they find popularity in one region and settle there. In order to carry on his fame, these maestros would then invite students to live with him and learn his techniques and style. Thus, a gharana was formed. It was widely accepted that the status of gharana was given to only those who had had at least three generations of students. The gharana becomes famous by the name of the place or the founder guru.”

Gharanas, however, are bound to a certain rules and regulation of Gayaki in which one has to be chained, but are significant for uplifting the age-old Guru-Shishya Parampara.

Gharanas are based on the same concept of Guru-Shishya parampara, as a disciple (not descendant), ones taken in, or ties a dhaga (Ganda) takes a gregarious, formal training staying with his/her Guru, tolerating all his tantrums, executes all his households happily till he becomes an elite stalwart. The disciple exceptionally respects his/her Guru like God and this element is purely, sacredly an Indian culture which is been followed in no other field except in musical heritage. And the credit goes to the Gharanas.

Today, the maestro disciples of the early musicians, touch their ear in respect while speaking out the name of their Guru. Competent personalities like Pt. Sanjeev Abhyankar, Pt. Niladri Kumar, Pt. Rakesh Chaurasiya, Pt. Srinivas Joshi are known to be the disciples of Pt. Jasraj, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi respectively and then as a musicians.

Lets discuss how Gharanas own their special characteristics and how they are different from each other:

The most famous Gharana: Jaipur Gharana (जयपुर घराना)

Jaipur Gharana emerged as two singing/playing styles thus it divided into two: Jaipur Daagar and Jaipur Veena Gharana (Instrumental). King of Jaipur Ramsingh was a great music lover and appointed many skilled musicians with respect and honour. Jaipur Daagar Gharana is said to be started by one of them known as Mangal Pandey and his descendants which was eventually continued by the Muslim disciples Haider Khan, Behram Khan etc. and the gharana emerged as Muslim Gharana but its cultural and creative panorama never changed by religion. Jaipur Gharana is popular for exceptional innovations in Music world.

Dilli Gharana (Delhi दिल्ली घराना )

Started by Allahbaksh, this gharanas inculcated the raga purity and abide by the rules properly. Dilli Gharana style represents the rhythmic raga elaboration and improvisations; it demonstrates the short rhythmic swaras innovative sequence and weighty tenor voice. Ornamnetations like Sut, Meend, gamak, lehek, etc. are performed in an astounding manner in fast tempos too. Prolific Khyala Bandish like paalki, suhaag, khanapuri, Taan-bandhaav are vocalized with overwhelming ease by the great early stalwarts like Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan, Ust. Naseer Ahmed Khan. Present eminent personalities of Delhi Gharana are Dr. Krishna Bisht, Dr. Bharti Chakraborty, Ust. Sayeed Zafar etc..

Gwalior Gharana (ग्वालियर घराना)

Again, Gwalior gharanas introduced two different styles of singing thus it emerged as : one started by Ghulam Rasool, another by Vishnu Pandit. Current maestros Pt. L.K Pandit, Madan Rao, Meeta Pandit belong to this style. Earlier legendary musician and musicologist Pt. Omkar Nath Thakur, Pt. S.N. Ratanjhankar, Pt. D.V. Paluskar, Dr. B.R Devdhar share this Gharana.

Gharanas are still and will always be the backbone and ambrosia of Indian Classical music, as it organizes, analyze and provides a unique, transcended standard to the field. It will continue to emanate the new forms, elements, intonations by its invention and of course great musicians and keep the Ragadari sangeet cognizant and culminating.

Technique To Remember and Vocalize Komal and Teevr Swaras

Out of the blue, while vocalizing natural note-phrases for a long time, you are asked to sing the Re-Komal that is Re-Flat. Now that’s the puzzling, tension-some era. More than 90% of my beginner students, or even amateurs get the jimjams and go wrong, out of tune, when asked to switch from natural notes to Komal. And why not? this is one of the most reasonable and possibly appropriate timings to get puzzled especially when you have started randomly without pondering over it for a few seconds.

 Normally, flat or komal denotes dull, faded version of the notes. Sharp or teevr denotes dominating or acute, ready to invade. Komal is the Hindi word for ‘soft’ and teevr refers to ‘tez‘ or clever. Thus, the first step is to perceive and grasp these terms clearly by imaging them as the meaning indicates.
Technique To Remember and Vocalize Komal and Teevr Swaras

Technique To Remember and Vocalize Komal and Teevr Swaras

 The proper sequence of the 12 notes in a chromatic scale or in the realm of 22 shrutis are:
 S  re  R  ga  G  M  ma’  P   dha   DH    ni   NI  SA
  •  upper case denotes shuddha/natural ones
  • lower case+italics+Underlined = komal (re ga dh ni)
  • lower+italics+apostrophe = teevr (which is only ma)
 The good news is that we never struggle to sing the seven natural notes (S R G M P D N) or major scale (C D E F G A B) because that’s the base scale, which is subtly printed in our brain. If you have even a speck of interest in music, you know the seven notes sequence be it what so ever culture or country you belong. Indian system calls it ‘saat shuddha swara‘ or ‘saptak‘ while the western discipline calls it major scale. Major means happy, so these are the happy tunes. 
 Visualize the Location Of Notes
Remember the sequence by hard as it helps visualize the location of note, hence you will grab the tonic ‘Sa’ and grab the subsequent note. Initially its hard to grasp the note, but far much easy to remember the location or diagram you had drawn. For instance, you are asked to track ‘ga’ komal. Visualize, imagine the location of ga komal: between shuddha re and shuddha ga, or at least think that, “I’ve to dim down the natural Ga.” You are all set. 
 Sing the Shuddha Version First
Once you have analyzed the concept of direction in your head, reach the natural destination of a particular note and back it up to dull it. Do not haste to ruin the things. Simply establish the base/tonic note Sa (on whatever scale) and reach out with S R G with G natural and return or back slightly by making the normal Ga to dull/dim. In other words fade the happy Ga to its dull form. This is not only the rational way to vocalize the vikrita swaras (komal/teevr) but also makes you a proficient 12-note singer. It’s actually hard to master singing the 12-notes together at one go.
 Ragas Help a Lot
Another very catchy option to reach out complex notes is: recall the basic ragas you have learnt and experiment the notes taking its help. Let me illustrate. Suppose you are asked to sing Raga Shivaranjini, a pentatonic raga omitting Ma and ni, which you are learning as of now, but don’t exactly memorize the tune at the moment.  In such case, we are all familiar with Raga Bhupali whether as a beginner, intermediate or advanced. Bhupali tunes are well inculcated in our brains so it might surely guide the way through. Fortunately, Bhupali is also a pentatonic scale raga which omits Ma and ni. But what’s the difference: Shivarinjini comprises of Ga komal instead the shuddha one like in Bhupali. Memorize and sing the Bhupali tune structure and dull the Ga in Bhupali, which lands fairly on Shivaranjini. In fact, this is how our 20th century musicians and gharanedaar veterans have experimented the different notes and created the new ragas. 
 Take Help Of The Movie Songs
Last but not the least, the most interesting and engaging way to address the different complex  notes are memorize the movie songs. Lets take Raga Shivaranjini as there are ample of songs in this raga, so if you are unable to bring the Aaroh-avroh in your head, simply hum the popular song “Jaane Kahan Gaye Woh din” from an old movie ‘mera naam joker‘. The first line is exactly the aaroh-avroh of the Raga Shivarajini. Get ready sing all the notes as now you have mastered it.  Similarly, if you unable to grab the lower ni to start raga Yaman’s ni Re Ga, simply remember the song ‘Ye Moh Moh Ke Dhaage‘ as the starting notes of this song is ni-Re-Ga…
 Analyzing the Indian classical  swaras and then pondering upon how they’re selected and combined to make a raga or melody is the most enthralling moments in the journey of learning classical music. Our honorable music legends have created these numerous incredibly scintillating ragas and indeed provided us a plethora of inestimable stuff to brood over and get startled. The only thing we need to do is to contemplate on those stuffs and value the moments, instead of puzzling ourselves with notes.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Few Ways to Incline Kids towards Indian Classical Music

The kids of my music premises are the proper west freak. I often interview them why they like western music more than the Indian. One of them shared a piece of experience with me on this, “West songs are a good source to enjoy and share the company of other kids.” Which was a clear and logical answer. The other one quoted, “Indian songs are boring and unknown…and we don’t know Hindi properly.”

We, as kids, were die-heart fans of the then Bollywood songs. We grasped even the minute variations and could easily perform if asked in the public.  Today’s kids are not even aware of the songs like manma emotion, jabra Fan, or even the cheapest songs.

Do what you want your kids to do:

Play any classical track for at least half an hour in the central room music system at home, so the kids grasp the tunes.

A 4 years old girl showed up with her mom when I asked her to sing something. Predictably, she sang a western track and the most intense romantic song Kyu ki tum hi ho. I shared my opinions with her mom on how the kids started liking the romantic tracks. She genuinely replied, “ It’s not their fault. We continuously listen to such songs and then they follow.”  Similarly, parents want their kids to learn Indian music but never give the Indian music environment at home. In fact, studies show that around 75% IT working Indian parents listen to the western singers more but make their kids join Indian classical classes, which compel the kids to make dry faces while the classes. The simplest formula of indoctrinating something in kids is the parents should start executing the same.

‘Classical music’ should be introduced in the schools

In the name of Indian music period, children learn some slow Hindi songs like Humko man ki shakti, Teri hai zameen, etc.,  which can never make them inclined. A proper classical training curriculum should be included in all school as a  serious exam subject right from the age of kindergarten and further, for which the marks matter. This way kids indoctrinate basic elements and grasp the classical tunes and rhythms. Once they grasp and perform and get appreciation, they will automatically hook up to the field.

Classical training made funny, fast and furious:

There are many options for making classical training more  whimsical and engrossing for kids. Classical doesn’t mean singing only serious ragas and tunes. Classical training can be made more funny, interesting more for kids by creating the swara, alankar Palte (note-syllables) more fast and rhythmic. For instance, breath and voice training can be initiated by commanding, “Let’s see if you can hold up till 20 seconds in rendering OM.” The competition imbibe a lot more interest in kids which make them plead for “Mam, I need one more chance.”

Guitarplaying matters

I observe my kid students crazy about the songs like New divide, I walk alone, 21 guns and even more crazier in playing them on the keyboard and guitar. They google the chords and keys curiously and are fulfilled with questions when show up at the class. The psychology and  common pattern in all kids are: if they are able to play any fast rendition (be it classical swaras) or quick songs on any western instrument, preferably guitar and Keyboard, they are likely to get attracted by music forever. For that matter, one can try out teaching the Indian ragas and fast swara-compositions on the guitar. For instance, apart from teaching Raga Bhupali’s ‘SA SA D P G R ….’ Notation bandish, I am up with a Barfi song ‘Itti si hasi’ and I notice their preoccupation and grasp.

Make them dance on the bandish (Raga-songs)

Kids are enthusiastic and playful by some physical activities and melodramatic atmosphere. Vocal music teaching involves sitting which can make them lethargic and heedless. Making them dance or act as krishna-Gopi (as most bandish involve the story of lord Krishna) on the bandish(s) may enhance their vitality and endeavor towards music. They can easily retain the lyrics and tunes of the bandish with these tantrums.

Comparison between the Ragas Bhupali and Shuddha Kalyana

Let’s talk about a few ragas covering  the circumference of the Kalyana Family. Like the members of a family, the ragas share the basic traits but still possess their own individualistic nature, attribute and temperament.

Raga Bhupali and Shuddha Kalyana, both belong to the Kalyana Thata or Kalyana parent raga. Both the ragas are similar in some aspects but differ in a few more characteristic features which make them unique from each other.

Similarities:

  • Raga Bhupali and Shuddha Kalyana share the same thaat.
  • The ascend or Aaroh of both the ragas are pentatonic or Audav, Ma and Ni are omitted.
  • The Vadi (Most important note) and Samvadi (Second important swara) of both are Ga and Dha.
  • The time zone of both is second zone of night.
  • The sustained or Hold note i.e., Nyasa swara in both the ragas are Gandhar (GA)
  • The common note-sturcture in both the ragas are: G P Dh P, Dh SA, Dh P, SRG, RG, G P SAA…

Difference:

Raga Bhupali Shuddha Kalyaan
Jati – Audav-audav (fully pentatonic) Audav sampoorna (Avroh has all the notes present)
‘P-G’ Pairing is present but in a normal manner without stylization ‘P-G’ goes with a meend or glide
P-R swara pair is not important. Its taken rarely P-R swara-sangati is too much and vocalized with glides and murki as in: (P) R S
Bhupali is not meend-pradhan or glide-oriented This raga is active in having meends or the glide ornamentation
Dhaivata (Dh) is used far more compared to shuddha kalyana Dhaivata is used lesser
Lower or mandra notes go like this: S d p, d S, d S R S, p d S. Lower/mandra notes go: S n d p, S, p d S…

Music Class Weekly Recap – 30 Jan 2016

This week, we vocalized the Classical Raga’s like

1. Raga Bhoopali – A pentatonic Raga
2. Raga Bhairava – A Morning Raga (just an intro)

Inspirational songs

1. Waving Flag
2. Teri Hai Zameen
3. Ae malik tere bande hum

Raga Bhoopali is a pentatonic raga which consists of only FIVE notes: SA RE GA PA DHA SA –
Where Penta means five (as in Pentagon) and Tonic means having tones

In Indian classical, pentatonic words is known as ‘Audav’; Audav means five.  Therefore Raga Bhoopali is an Audav Raga.