November 27, 2016

Newly updated posts

Hello!

There are three posts which have had their download links updated from Zippyshare to adrive (which is much more stable).

These are:

Kartik Kumar

Kartik and Naladri Kumar

Kabir Khan.

I have one more post to update (Ghulam Hussain Khan and Munir Khan), which will be completed during the next week. I hope to eventually transfer all links to adrive before the end of the calendar year.

Thanks!

November 6, 2016

Ram Narayan: Stil's Sunday Solo [Stil 1804 S 82] an LP released in France in 1984

Here we have another LP by the great sarangi maestro Ram Narayan. This is an LP which was recorded in 1983 and released in 1984 by the French label Stil. 

There is a slightly unusual mix to the album, with the tabla barely audible at times. This may have to do with the compromises required in cutting such long sides. Despite the lack of bass (which was very gently boosted in Audacity) this is a lovely performance.

side 1: Raga Shudh Sarang (26:06)
side 2: Raga Multani (26:12)

tabla: Suresh Talwalker (side 1 only)
tampura: Helene Huguet

I am grateful to Nels for the loan of this LP, as well as several other LPs which are coming to the blog. 











Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in pure clean water, followed by a quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity, ClickRepair, and xAct. 




(high resolution file ideal for listening on computer)

(standard resolution file ideal for burning a CDR)

(compressed file ideal for listening on a portable player)

November 5, 2016

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan: [EALP 1265] an LP released in India in 1961

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (2 April 1902 – 23 April 1968) was one of the giants of Hindustani classical music. He was a member of the Patiola gharana. His death in 1968 unfortunately did not allow for many high fidelity recordings of him to be made. This is one of the few LPs he recorded during his lifetime.

There is also a series of recordings made by All India Radio which were released in the 1990s by T-series. I imagine most if not all of them are now out of print. 

For a list of the compositions which make up the sides of the LP, please see the photos of the labels.

side 1: Raga Darbari Kanada
side 2: Raga Kaushi-Dhani












Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in pure clean water, followed by a quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity, ClickRepair, and xAct. 




(high resolution file ideal for listening on computer))

(standard resolution file ideal for burning a CDR)

(compressed file ideal for listening on a portable player)


October 6, 2016

Brij Narayan: Raga Lalit [Stil 2711 S 78] an LP recorded and released in 1979 in France

Here is another delightful album from the French label Stil, who released a very high quality run of eastern and western classical LPs in the 1970s and 80s.

Brij Narayan (born April 25, 1952) is the oldest son of sarangi player Ram Narayan. He was about age 27 when this recording was made. Brij has made an appearance in this blog in the past. Unfortunately, his career seemed to stall out a little in the late 1980s and especially the 1990s -- at least in terms of internationally available CDs. I will ask some of my inside sources about why they think this might be. So we shall see.

Tabla maestro Suresh Talwalkar was born in 1948. He was awarded the Padma Shree and has been part of several very memorable recording sessions.

This LP captures a lively performance of Raga Lalit and was in superb physical condition. Very little in the way of sound restoration was needed -- just a nice 20 minute dip in the ultrasonic cleaner and a few clicks removed using Audacity's "repair" function from the beginning of each side. I did not reproduce the entire back cover because it was completely white except for the hard-to-read section which is pictured below. On anything but a very large screen the back cover would look too much like a white square, if I had not performed the cropping. No information was lost in this cropping.



Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in pure clean water, followed by a quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity, ClickRepair, and xAct. 










(high resolution file ideal for listening on computer or certain portable players)

(standard resolution file ideal for burning a CDR)

(highest possible quality compressed file ideal for listening on a portable player)




September 25, 2016

T Viswanathan: South Indian Flute [WPS-21451] an LP released on the World Pacific Label in the US in 1969

Tanjore Viswanathan (born in MadrasIndia, August 13, 1927; died in HartfordConnecticutUnited States, September 10, 2002) was a Carnatic musician specializing in the Carnatic flute and voice. His brother was the mridangam player T. Ranganathan (1925–1987).

This is one of a series of LPs released on the World Pacific label. This label grew out of Pacific Records, which was a jazz label. Although there sometimes was a rare dud in their catalog, in general you can be pretty certain of a high level of musical and production qualities with any World Pacific release.

Side 1:
"Virabhoni" varnam in Raga Bhairavi in Kanda Ata Taal (oddly enough, not the concluding piece) (5:19)
"Garudaghamana" kriti in Raga Nagaswarali in Rupak Taal (14:09)
"Saramaira" song in Raga Behag in Rupak Taal (3:20)

Side2:
"Etijanmamiti" song by Thyragaraja in Raga Varali in Misra Chapu Taal (16:31)
"Paniyinvintuli" hymn in Raga Senjuruti in Kanda Duruvam Taal


T Viswanathan: flute
V Tyagarajan: violin
T Ranganathan: mridangam
V Nagarajan: kanjira
P Srinivasan: Tarboura
H Hiler: Sruti box



Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in pure clean water, followed by a quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Sony PCM-M10 at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
















(a higher resolution file than a CD - cannot be burned as a CDR)

(a standard "CD quality audio file - suitable for burning a CDR)

(an mp3 file with highest quality settings possible)




September 23, 2016

Manik Varma: [EMI ECLP 2313] an LP released in India in 1965

Up next is a solid album from Manik Varma (1926-96) a vocalist from the Kirana gharana which was founded by the great Abdul Karim Khan.

Accompaniment is by violinist VG Jog. The tabla player, as so often was the case in the past, was known only to those in the studio that day.

Side 1:
Raga Jog-Kauns with compositions in slow Ektaal and fast Teentaal

Side 2:
Raga Bhatiyar with compositions in slow Ektaal and fast Teentaal
Thumri in Raga Bhairavi

While transferring this album I noticed that it is in monaural sound -- so the files are half the regular size.







(high resolution audio file)

(standard resolution "CD quality" audio file)

(highest possible resolution mp3 audio file)




August 19, 2016

Ravi Shankar: Sitar [EMI EASD 1502] an LP released in India in 1972

Here is a very nice collection of compositions by the great Ravi Shankar. Some people in the world of Indian Classical Music resent the continued popularity of Raviji. Even almost fours years after his death, his name can summon up tremendous amounts of energy and power. Oh, I could tell tales of how the merest mention of Raviji's name or the name of his Foundation has opened dozens of doors to concert promotors for particular musicians on tour in the U.S. Those tales will have to wait, especially because I am trying to stay incognito with this blog.

Needless to say, those not blessed with monikers such as "senior disciple of Ravi Shankar" or just "student of Raviji" can sometimes hold some inexplicable envy in their minds. I have sadly heard this envy in personal conversations. Also, brilliantly gifted musicians such as the great sitarist Vilayat Khan never (to my knowledge) publicly admitted to being impressed by Raviji's technical skills. However, there is more than just technical skills which can melt a heart or make a friend. There is a depth of emotion and richness of compositions in Raviji's playing which is evident to both newcomers and professionals alike. It is is this depth and richness which will allow him to continue to hold a spell on the world of Indian Classical Music for the remainder of my lifetime.

Here we have a release from EMI dating from 1972 featuring three new Ragas created by Ravi Shankar (admittedly by slightly altering existing Ragas). To me, it is interesting to note the difference in production values between this release and the jugalbandi double LP with Ali Akbar Khan which was released the same year on Apple Records. My inside source say a reissue of that famous double LP [with bonus additional music] is in the works. Otherwise I would definitely transfer that fine production!

Tabla is by the great and much-missed Alla Rakha.

side 1: 
Raga Kameshwari: Alaap - Jod - Gats in Japhtaal.

side 2: 
Raga Gangeshwari: Gat in Rupak Taal
Raga Rangeshwari: Gat in vilambit and drut Teentaal

I would like to note that you can hear a 60 second mp3 sample of what this LP sounded like as a raw transfer here and also an mp3 sample of the finished audio file here. This was certainly the worst sounding raw transfer I have worked with -- ironically with a perfect-looking LP which I believe was purchased as a "new" LP on a well known online LP site. I broke many of my rules of "pure-hearted audiophile transferring" but otherwise I would not have been able to present the transfer. Originally I simply gave up and handed the LP back to my good friend and fellow ICM student Nels. A few weeks later I changed my mind and gave it a try.

My discovery of the rather amazing program entitled ClickRepair, which allows one to listen live to what sound is being eliminated from the recording, has greatly changed my opinion of such programs. It is, as far as I know, the only program which allows one to perform this neat trick of auditing the material being removed and adjusting accordingly. It is available as a free, fully-functioning trial version with a 30-day trial period. I hope I don't sound like a commercial advertisement for the program, but I believe it has the chance to improve the way vinyl is transferred, with more music kept and more noise eliminated in the audio file.








(this is a high resolution audio file suitable for listening on computer or certain portable devices)


(this is a standard-resolution file suitable for burning a CDR)


(this is the highest-quality setting available when compressing audio to this popular portable format)




August 18, 2016

Ali Akbar Khan: Live in Eugene, Oregon. October 1983. [AMMP CS86-8] a cassette released in the United States in 1987

Here we have another in the series of cassettes which AMMP Music Productions (i.e., the AACM) released in the mid 1980s documenting the Ustad's collection of concert recordings. The story I have heard, not independently verified by any of the principals, is that Mary Johnson Khan began discovering boxes of reels of recordings of live concerts by her husband placed in odd locations in their home. Places like under a couch or in closets. She apparently decided to start to archive these recordings with the goal of eventually making them available to the public.

The first step of this was the two similarly-titled series of cassettes released in the 1980s under both the AACM and the AMMP banner.

On the first side of the cassette we have a jovial Ali Akbar Khan explaining what he'll play that evening. I will leave it up to you to hear his charming talk. Then an alap followed by gats in a closely related raga. The sound quality of the original tape seems quite good. Commercially produced cassettes can have the quality of their higher frequencies suffer a bit from the high-speed dubbing which predominiantes their manufacture. I have given the higher frequencies in these two sides a very slight boost (about 2 decibels between 9kHz and 13kHz or so). Nothing too noticeable.

My cassette set up will be detailed in a future post. I just wanted to remind listeners who are archiving their cassettes to read up on "azimuth adjustment" before they transfer the tape. This can make a huge audible difference that you can hear immediately as you change the azimuth.

Tabla is by the great Swapan Chaudhuri

side 1: Raga Hem Behag: alap and jod
side 2: Raga Bihag: gats in teentaal






(high resolution file ideal for listening on computer or certain portable players)

(standard resolution file ideal for burning a CDR)

(highest possible quality compressed file ideal for listening on a portable player)



August 16, 2016

About the Ghulam Husain Khan and Munir Khan Post -- and also a before-and-after comparison of two transfers

If you were one of the people who downloaded files from the adrive.com link connected to the post from August 8, 2016 -- please go to that post now and see my notice. 

I will attempt to get the correct side 2 up on the adrive.com site within the next few days. I will make a new post again when that happens and also I will change the notice for that post to indicate that the correct files are available. From now on I am going to work on one post at a time. Before, I would transfer multiple LPs all at once and then slowly go through and edit them, and finally do the scanning and labeling. Basically I was doing a lot of the work I enjoyed and then put off doing the part I didn't enjoy. Sort of like what I do at my regular job!

Until then, please check out this mp3 sample of the next LP which I will be posting. The file is just 60 seconds in length and is the raw, untouched transfer before I do my click removal. There is also a 60 sec segment of the finished product. Please listen to the difference and comment if you wish. As far as I am concerned, I do a pretty good job of keeping all of the music and eliminating most of the noise. However, I'm always interested in hearing divergent opinions, especially about issues surrounding audio. It is possible to just play the piece without downloading, in case you don't want to clutter up your mp3 player with a short sample.

By the way, this is certainly the worst-sounding transfer I have tried to fix. Most of the transfers have about a quarter to a third of the noise evident here.

Here is 60 seconds of "Raw Raviji"   (raw in the sense that this is straight off the micro SD card of the recorder. The only processing was to copy the file inside Audacity and cut out everything after the first minute, and then convert to mp3).

Here is 60 seconds of "Remastered Raviji" (a sample of exactly what is coming next).

To listen at 320kbps rate, you need to click the "SD" button at the top right corner of the play box. It will change to "HD."

I believe this was one of the LPs my friend Nels bought online as a "sealed copy." Please remember that original Indian LPs were generally not "factory sealed for your protection." Buying an LP that is labeled as "factory sealed" might bring you sadness. Also, sometimes an LP will look perfect but actually sound terrible. I believe the culprit here is a worn stamper plus substandard vinyl compound.

Thanks for being one of my readers, and especially thanks to the two who pointed out my errors (once in uploading the wrong file for side 2, and again when I checked to see if there was a problem I only listened to the first side). Their comments and my responses are there in the August 8 post.

August 14, 2016

Ali Akbar Khan: Live from Delhi, December 1981 [AMMP CS86-7] released on cassette in 1986 in the US

My final cassette post this weekend is one of a series of cassette tapes which were issued in the 1980s by Alam Madina Music Productions -- basically an in-house label of the Ali Akbar College of Music. This series was entitled "Live Concert Series," the tapes of which were chosen by the Maestro himself from his personal collection. I own five volumes of this series, although with one volume there are two cassettes and my retail source at the time only had one of them. There is a different series of live cassettes produced by the AACM ("Ali Akbar Khan: Live in Concert") which may have only been available to students or in person at the school. I have one volume (vol  XII -- but only in someone else's mp3 transfer), which is available on the internet if one looks hard enough.

In case you are wondering, "Alam" is the name of Ali Akbar Kahn's youngest son, a gifted and underrated sarod player who has only a few CDs to his name. Alam seems reluctant to go on long tours which would help his reputation, but does make short trips to play a single date or two. Alam is quite friendly and humble in person, with a relatively wide range of interests. He concentrates very hard on his instrument while playing in public, to the point where he makes little or no eye contact with the audience. That is fine with me, but I think it is atypical among ICM performers. I own five live recordings of Alam, recorded either by me or a relative of mine, all of which suffer from various setbacks -- so I don't think they will be shared here.

"Madina" is Alam's sister. The family-centered nature of the label is further shown by the names of Ashish Khan (AAK's oldest son) and Mary Johnson Kahn (Alam and Madina's mother) on the outer part of the J-card.

My understanding, from casual conversations with people who might have gotten certain details incorrect, that by January 1981 the great Swapan Choudhury had moved from Calcutta and was living in San Rafael and teaching at AACM. It's not clear why Swapan ji did not accompany Khansahib on this tour; I imagine it was because he had just moved to the US and wanted to devote his time to building the tabla program at AACM. Possibly there were personal issues which made performing in India at the time difficult.

The two pieces on this cassette almost sound like two different concerts (which could be the case). An alternative explanation for the differences in aural character between the two is that adjustments at the mixing desk were made during the show, which can often occur.

The first piece is an alap and jod section of Raga Miyan ki Malhar. This has a slightly dull upper end and some minimal distortion at the dynamic peaks. I would have though it was an issue with azimuth adjustment, but the fact is that the second piece sounds more full and with a crisp upper end in comparison. Because of the way cassettes are made, a cut had to be made in the longer piece so that the sides were about equal in timing. The first section of Raga Desh Malhar is on the same side of the tape as the entire alap and jod of Raga Miyan Ki Malhar, but sounds exactly like the rest of the raga on the other side of the tape. So it was not a case of one side of the tape being played with incorrect azimuth. I stitched together the longer piece in a way that is noticeable but not jarring.

Overall, it is an extremely enjoyable live performance from Ali Akbar Khan and tabla maestro Shankar Ghosh, who unfortunately died in late January of this year.

Ali Akbar Khan: Sarod
Shankar Ghosh: Tabla

Side 1: Raga Miyan Ki Malhar: alap and jod
Side 2: Raga Desh Malhar: gats in vilambit (slow) teentaal and medium jhaptal.






(higher resolution audio file, 
suitable for computer and some portable devices)

(standard CD-quality resolution, 
suitable for burning to CD)

(highest possible quality setting of a compressed file, 
suitable for listening to on portable player)


August 13, 2016

TR Mahalingam: All India Radio [HMV HTC 8129] Radio session recorded for broadcast in 1960 and released as a cassette in 1993

And once again during this "Weekend Celebration of Cassette-based Musical Culture," a cassette from TR "Mali" Mahalingam.

I refer you to two previous posts from this pioneering Carnatic flautist for any biographical information you might be interested in.

This cassette was released as part of a short-lived program initiated by AIR to issue some of its recordings of more well-known musicians in its archives. They have appeared from time to time on EMI/HMV/Saregama/RPG/Whatever, Akashvani Archive, and T-series. These particular sessions were recorded in 1960 and I must say they sound a good ten years older than that. There is an interesting and unwanted low-frequency noise that is intermittently apparent. I can't account for its origins. Is it from tape print-through? Ambient noise in the studio? Deteriorating tape in a warm environment? It can sometimes sound like radio static or LP rumbles. Any ideas from readers are welcomed.

This time we have an excellent listing of krithi, their base ragas, and their talas (not all Adi Taal, interestingly).

These last two Mali cassettes are not exactly audiophile sensations of the highest order. No one subscribing to Stereophile Magazine is going to rank them up there with recordings of steam engine trains and other "audiophile delights," but their musical content is worth sitting through a little bit of tape hiss, mild peak distortion, and occasional strange noises. There are several commercially-released carnatic albums I own with worse sound quality than is on display here.

If sound quality is important to you (and, really, why shouldn't it be one of several aspects of a recording that is relevant?) one superb in-print collection from a Japanese label is still quite easily available. The vinyl edition is starting to get scarce, but the CD edition continues (for now) to be widely distributed. It is also on several streaming apps such as Tidal and Spotify. The collection is a model of how well a reissue of EMI recordings could sound if proper (i.e., Japanese-level) care is taken in finding original masters and properly transferring and tastefully remastering them.

Regardless, on to this quite enjoyable cassette.










(high resolution audio file suitable for playing on computer)

(suitable for burning a CDR)

(suitable for listening to on portable devices)

TR Mahalingam: Carnatic Flute [HMV HTCS 8078] recorded in 1969 and released as a cassette in 1992 in India

We have met TR Mahalingam (nicknamed "Mali") once before in this blog, with one of two live releases on the Stil label out of France.

There are many stories of Mali's difficulties performing live, with concerts cancelled at the last moment, audiences waiting for hours after the official start time until Mali was prepared to perform, etc. They are on the internet for those wishing to pursue that line of history.

My line of musical history focuses on the music -- it goes from Mali's first 78s up until the last recordings.

This was recorded in 1969. I am fairly sure there was an LP release at one point, but I have not seen it nor have I been able to find any traces of it on the internet. I am learning, however, that it is not as easy to discover discographic information on EMI India releases as it is to locate such information on popular music released almost anywhere in the world. This particular release could be a mixture of sessions as well -- HMV started doing this in the 1980s and its corporate successors continue the practice with increasing abandon.

Ideally there would have been credits listing the other musicians. Unfortunately this is not the case.

One characteristic of Mali's playing which is seldom seen in more recent Carnatic performances is his love of silences and his occasional playing of a single note held for up to 30 seconds at a time.

For those who are interested enough to click on the word "Sangeethapriya" and join the group, there are a reported 60 concert recordings by Mali on that website. One nice advantage of the group is that they have an easy to use app for streaming. One very sad aspect is the low bit rate mp3 files which are on offer. Still, you can hear historical concerts as well as what was played on AIR Chennai last week. More audio recordings are beginning to crop up on YouTube as well.

I combined both sides of the cassette into one long track. This goes against accepted practice of most music blogs I follow. Most of the time I will split up the files for LPs on a per-side basis, unless there is a live recording of single piece stretched out over two sides because of technical limitations of mastering vinyl (see my recent post of an Ashish Khan LP). That will usually be my approach for cassettes. For those wishing to split the tracks, I have found the program "Fission" to be the easiest way to accomplish this. Unlike other programs, the only purpose of Fission is to split audio tracks. It does so without introducing a type of audio artifact called Sector Boundary Errors (SBE).

Kritis:

1. Maryada Gadura (based on Raga Sankarabharanam) [Thyagaraja] (10:06)
2. Folk Melody (based on Raga Chenchurutti) (9:46)
3. Meevalla Gunadosha (based on Raga Kapi) [Thyagaraja] (20:35)

Note: I see that the links to my original Mahalingam post have expired. I am interested in doing a new transfer and providing more permanent adrive.com links -- watch out for this in the coming weeks. There is a companion double-LP live set on Stil Records (not listed on discogs.com by the way) of a different concert which I might try to transfer at the same time.

Here is part one of a video recording of Mali's last concert, given on December 31, 1985...

...and here is part 2.








(high resolution audio file playable on computers and some portable players)

(standard resolution audio file suitable for burning a CDR)

(highest possible quality compressed audio file, suitable for portable players)



August 11, 2016

Shivkumar Sharma and Zakir Hussain: Raga Misra Pahadi [AKSA 14] (LP issued in the US in 1982) (repost with improved transfer)

This is a repost of this interesting album, with a new vinyl transfer and new, more permanent links.

Shivkumar Sharma was born in Jammu, Kashmir on January 13, 1938. He apparently was the first santoor virtuoso to perform Hindustani classical music. He gave his first public performance in 1955

Zakir Hussain needs no introduction here. In a later posting I will have some pertinent thoughts about reasons underlying why he has become such a celebrity on his instrument. The standard reasons ("His father was Alla Rakha and he was able to go on tours with him," and so forth and, "He played with Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart") seem a bit strained and unconvincing to me.

This LP was recorded at a house concert in Chicago in April, 1982.

The vinyl is in near mint condition and little was needed in post production in terms of click removal or equalization. The delightfully full and warm recorded sound on this release was a surprise to me and I hope someday the rest of the concert will be unearthed and released. For now this remains a relatively obscure gem.


 













(after decoding will be a lossless copy of the recording,
suitable for burning to CD)

(highest possible quality compressed file
suitable for playing on portable devices)



August 8, 2016

Ghulam Husain Khan and Munir Khan: Jugalbandi - Duets for Sitar and Sarangi [Decca DL 75100] recorded in India and released as an LP in the US in 1968

PLEASE NOTE:

The download files for this post are incorrect at this time and the links have been killed (for now). 

While the first side is the correct first side, what is labeled as "[DL 75100] side 2" is actually the already-posted side 1 of [UNS 15550] -- which is a sarod piece performed by Damdarlal Kabra. The files for that post -- [UNS 15550] -- are correctly labeled. 

When the situation has been corrected, this notice will be worded differently and the download links will work. I will have an option to just download the second side and also an option to download a corrected complete file including scans, etc. Either way, if you have downloaded the files associated with this post please immediately delete any file named something like "[DL 75100] side 2." 

I apologize for this inconvenience. I have identified the process which resulted in mislabeling the file and have changed my workflow so that it will not happen again.  

A tremendous THANK YOU to Kirti ji and "3rd ear" ji for spotting this mistake which I should have noticed before posting.

A few months ago I posted about an LP by sitarist Ghulam Husain Khan on the French record label Disques Vogue. Because only scant biographical data is available in that post, I have included the note below. It gives an excellent character study, but fails to mention that he was a cousin of Vilayat Khan.

Also, a nice biographical sketch is provided in the liner notes of this record by the well-known ethnomusicologist James Rubin.

This LP is an album of duets with sarangi player Munir Khan and was recorded in Indore, India in 1968 by the Pan Orient Arts Foundation. Khan plays beautifully on this recording.

The sarangi is certainly one of the most evocative of the stringed instruments. Although it does not usually look like much, the many sympathetic strings lend it a dignity and power of expression that is simply not present for western bowed string instruments such as violin or cello.

Tabla is performed by Suleiman Khan
Tanpura by Usman Khan










I recently ran across an interesting article about Ghulam Husain Khan which one of his students had reproduced on his website. I encourage everyone to visit the site. I encourage any friends, family or past students of Patric Marks to unearth any previously unreleased recordings of his guru and make them available in high quality audio files (I volunteer to assist in the mastering!).

Here I reproduce the entire article:

'Ustad Ghulam Husain Khan was born in Indore in 1927. Since his father died shortly after his birth, he took his musical training from his elder brother, 'Usman Khan. He began by playing the bin, but gradually realized that in the changing musical climate of India the sitar held a more promising future, and he eventually concentrated on the latter instrument in his lessons with his brother. As a general rule when he was young, he mischievously neglected his practice for typical childhood preoccupations (kite-flying, bicycle-riding, and the like). Only after a program in which a cousin was highly praised for a fine performance on the sitar--while Ghulam Husain, wearing (as he vividly remembers) his customary short pants, was sent to fetch water for the guests did he feel a motivation, born of pangs of humiliation and envy, to begin practicing in earnest. 

With much riyaz and mahnat (practice and industriousness), he progressed rapidly,and was appointed a Court Musician at the age of eighteen or nineteen, shortly before Independence; after 1947 he accompanied his brother 'Usman to Bombay, where he quickly began to establish a reputation as an outstanding sitarist. He remained in Bombay after 'Usman Khan moved to Ahmedabad, and performed there very successfully until he was summoned to Ahmedabad by 'Usman, who was returning to Indore at the invitation of the Maharaja. Ghulam Husain was thus required to take over his elder brother's teaching responsibilities, and he reluctantly left Bombay for Ahmedabad.

He was clearly the best sitarist in that city, and he soon developed a considerable, if geographically limited, reputation. He was able to discontinue the classes he had taken over from his brother, and to earn a comfortable income from radio performance, local programs (both public and private), and the private instruction (in "tuitions") of a few wealthy devotees of Hindustani music. While not performing often in other parts of India outside Ahmedabad, he did make a European and American concert tour, sponsored by the Pan Orient Arts Foundation of Boston, in 1968, followed by a second European tour in 1973. His reputation in India has now spread beyond Ahmedabad, and he has performed on one long-playing record released in India and three other records issued abroad. 

To a great degree, Ghulam Husain Khan has adhered to the traditional principles of ustadi which have already been discussed: riyaz (practice) and mahnat (industriousness); the development of a distinctive style, arising out of traditional elements, in what he calls binkar baj (playing the sitar in the style of a binkar); the maintenance of mithas (musical sweetness) so treasured by 'Usman Khan as the hallmark of the instrumental style of Bande 'Ali Khan; a sense of dedicated khidmat (service) to the gharana; and a basic respect for sadagi (simplicity) in style of life. Moreover, his sense of the traditional instructional roles of the ustad is highly developed; he has not participated in the establishment of any music classes, as have many of his contemporaries, but remains dedicated to the principle of intensive individual instruction and has limited the number of his formally bound shagirds (disciples) to a few individuals who have clearly demonstrated their dedication and seriousness. 

While he has been creative in developing his own style of binkar baj and in developing, after several years' effort, a new rag (Priti-Hindoli)l it is rather in the larger social realm beyond pure music that Ghulam Husain Khan has expanded his role as an ustad. He has, one might say, become his own patron, and something of an entrepreneur, partly out of economic necessity, but also partly out of a sense of khidmat to music and to the gharana. In one sense he has developed a philosophy of how to live the "artist's life"; in another he has defined for himself a role as a visibly productive and responsible citizen. In short, Ghulam Husain Khan has become the most accomplished musician of his generation in his immediate family, and the most renowned as an ustad. A discussion of the various aspects of his life--both musical and extra-musical will be of assistance in understanding the reasons for his renown. 

Ghulam Husain Khan has a strong sense of the importance of riyaz and mahnat for a musician, and he laments in a published interview that he, like other contemporary musicians, does not have as much time for practice as he would like: "Without patronage and respect, the musician cannot devote the whole of this time and self to the music. In the old days--even as recently as thirty years ago--it was not the same. His attitude toward practice, however, is refreshingly realistic, partaking hardly at all of the usual pious claims and pronouncements. While acknowledging that intense practice was essential in the formative stages of his career, he recognizes the equal importance of other elements as well: patience, obedience, industry, and intelligence are the qualities necessary to a good musician. Through learning the ragas by heart the power to play them comes. One becomes almost hypnotized by the discipline of practice, and this reveals the growth of the inner strength necessary for music.

In the development of his sitar style, Ghulam Husain ,as combined the bIn style learned from his elder brother with traditional elements of sitar performance in what he feels is a somewhat novel approach to sitar playing--bInkar baj --thoroughly grounded in precedent in each of the two individual instrumental styles. As already mentioned, 'Usman Khan identifies his bIn style, derived from that of Bande 'Ali Khan, as being distinguished by the introduction of a khaval sensibility and technique into the traditionally dhrupad-oriented style of the bin. 

Thus Ghulam Husain feels his music to have a strongly vocal quality for which he uses the phrase gayaki ang (used as well by some other musicians, notably Ustad Vilayat Khan) ; and he adds the further qualification that his performance includes elements of thumrI and dadra (forms of light classical music) as well. In the specific flavor of his playing, he, like 'Usman Khan, has tried to maintain the quality of mithas (musical sweetness) through the use of srutitI (microtonal variation), murki (a delicate quaver at the end of a note before a descent), and zamzama (a particular type of occasional tremolo.) His performances are enriched by his knowledge of a large number of old gats ( compositions), including many rare double gats (compositions, in the Raza KhanI or fast pattern, having two parts and lasting two-full-cycles of tIntal, the rhythmic cycle which has sixteen beats) from past ustads in the gharana.

Ghulam Husain Khan's sense of khidmat (service) to the gharana is clear. He has remained more concerned than his brothers about the fate of his musical tradition, and a conversation with him often reveals some hope or anxiety prompted by this concern. (This aspect of his ustadi will be treated in an elaboration of his educational philosophy, and in the section on the gharana itself). On the personal level, Ghulam Husain sent his firstborn son, Afzal Husain, to live with and be raised by 'Usman Khan, Who had no son of his own (it was only from a third marriage years later that 'Usman was to have two sons). In fact, out of a general deference toward and sympathy for his older brother (who very much wanted children of his own.), Ghulam Husain has had all his own children call Usman Khan Babba (roughly equivalent to the English papa), while he himself is addressed as bha'i miyan (respected brother). He also has a clear sense of social khidmat--to be discussed presently--as a citizen of his community in contemporary India. 

While not an ostentatiously pious man (he has a wry sense of humor and an engaging personal warmth) Ghulam Husain Khan does observe certain principles of sadagi. On almost all occasions he wears a plain white kurta and pa'ijama (loose, flowing shirt and pajama-like trousers) made of simple cotton, neatly pressed. He takes very seriously attendance of ceremonies at the tombs of saints (the roza of Shah 'AIam in Ahmedabad is a favorite visiting place for him), and he prays regularly before his performances. When he was congratulated by a few close friends after a particularly moving and successful debut performance in the United States, he shook his head with stark and genuine humility and said, "maih ne kuch nahin kiya khud ne sab kuch kiya" ("I did nothing--it was all done by God"); one had the distinct impression that he believed utterly that the music had flowed through him from a divine source.

But it is in his dedication to teaching that Ghulam Husain Khan has shown some of the most dominant aspects of his ustadI. The importance of posterity in the maintenance of a gharana is evident to him, and for this reason, with a sense of khidmat to the gharana, he has taken the process of teaching very seriously. A distinction has already been made between an ustad's attitude toward uncommitted students and serious disciples. Casual students he treats casually, but his few shagirds (he has taken perhaps eight such disciples, exclusive of his sons, in thirty years of teaching) are the recipients of his utmost dedication. In the interview from which he has previously been quoted, he describes his view of the relationship between ustad and shagird: 

The ustad gives his pupil the maximum personal attention possible. He spends from five to ten hours a day with him, until the disciple understands the mind as well as the movements of the teacher. The teaching of music is the creation of a complete understanding between the two. 

Sometimes the ustad disciplines his pupil to be certain that the disciple is serious. An American boy came to me several years ago, wanting to study the sitar. I was not sure of him so I called him at midnight, at five in the morning, in rain and sun, to test his discipline and patience. Finally I was satisfied and took him. Now he is like a son to me. Ghulam Husain Khan takes his obligations to his shagirds not only as a musical relationship, but as a spiritual and very personal one as well. Certain features of his preceptive philosophy are similar to those of the Sufl tariqa (path), in which the relationship between shaikh and murid often parallels that of ustad and shagird. The aspect or-trial and testing by the ustad shaikh has already been mentioned, as has the aspect of suhbat(literally, company, but in Sufism, spiritual conversation), in which ustad and shagird become well acquainted through extensive conversations and long periods of time spent in each other's company. 

Writing of the symbolic use of clothing in Sufism, Schimmel (1975:102) has observed that "by donning a garment that has been worn, or even touched, by the blessed hands of a master, the disciple acquires some of the baraka, the mystico-magical power of the sheikh." In numerous instances Ghulam Husain has followed this particular symbolism as well by presenting his male shagirds with both new clothes, particularly kurtas, and clothes which he himself has worn. This last custom in particular is typical of his generosity to his most trusted disciples.

In a more public context, as mentioned earlier, Ghulam Husain has become something of a musical entrepreneur. He has realized that with the loss of courtly patronage, it is difficult for a musician to survive with the degree of passivity that often results from an adequate monthly stipend; he has therefore developed in himself, quite against his ultimately shy and self-effacing nature, certain entrepreneurial capabilities that have borne significant results. In 1962, for example, he gained publicity, prestige, and merit as a citizen by arranging his own benefit program for the national defense fund instituted during the border dispute with China. 

He personally canvassed the city of Ahmedabad to sell tickets to the wealthier residents of the city, and when he was refused entry because of his modest appearance, he would gain audience with his patrons-to-be after passing with much good humor through the servants' entrance. "I am not a proud man," he would say, laughing; "this is the artist's life"--and then, "you must buy tickets to my program. It will be a good program, in a good cause." He sent a very substantial sum received from the concert to the fund, and is still remembered for this in Ahmedabad. 

Feeling, as many traditional ustads would not, this sense of public interest and duty, Ghulam Husain Khan has thus become something of a patron himself--dispensing, if not money, at least moral and tactical support. During his early days in Ahmedabad, when there was little musical activity in what was primarily the business-oriented center of an expanding textile industry, he was cofounder of "Alap," a music circle organized to bring visiting artists, to the city and thereby enrich its cultural life. He has also participated conscientiously in anniversary programs honoring the memory of two of the major figures in the modernization of Indian music education, V.D. Paluskar and V.N. Bhatkande; in this connection he received a special reception and award, presented by the Finance Minister of India, from the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal. a well-known modern music school. 

This last point suggests not so much that Ghulam Husain Khan participates in current trends in the modernization of classical music, as that he wants to acknowledge the fact that such trends exist. To remain informed on various musical developments, he subscribes to at least one musicological journal published in Hindi. In many respects, his reading of this journal has the same motivation as his reading of newspapers: diversion, with an intelligent interest in the events--musical or otherwise of the day. (While maintaining that very little of practical value can be learned from books on music, he does occasionally consult a nineteenth-century Urdu treatise on music, Sarmaya-e-'israt, (sadiq 'Ali Khan 1895) particularly regarding aspects of instrumental maintenance and repairs in which he takes a keen interest. His apparent trust of this book is possibly due to the fact that the author, Sadiq 'Ali Khan, has the same name as the father of Bande 'Ali Khan, the founder of Ghulam Husain's gharana, and may well be the same person.

In most respects, Ghulam Husain Khan approaches his public role as an ustad with a particular savor and witty nonchalance that characterizes what he calls "artist's life"--the life of an individual seen, as a Muslim musician, as being somewhat on the periphery of traditional Indian society no matter what the degree of art. When he lived in Bombay, Ghulam Husain moved in a polyglot community of painters, poets, 'and other musicians: he lived for a time in a flat on Malabar Hill where the famous Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz had recently lived, and which had a history of tenants arrested for offenses ranging from gambling to political terrorism. He still remembers those days and those individuals with pleasure. Yet, coming to Ahmedabad on his brother's instruction, he left the Bohemian life when he realized that it would ultimately be detrimental to his stature as a musician, and to the stature of the gharana, in the public eye; instead of squandering a growing income, he began to invest in the future through the cultivation of a distinct image and selective acquisition of property. 

Traditionally, Muslim musicians who, before independence, were associated with the courts of princely states, have tended in many respects to imitate the manners and pursuits of their patrons, the Hindu maharajas and the Muslim navabs: hunting, Epicurean dining, a fondness for elegant clothes, and a great pleasure in the adventure of travel. Ghulam Husain is very much of a gourmand, and for some years met regularly with a group of fiends, known as the Murghr (chicken) Club, who would take turns hosting meals In which no effort, and sometimes ( depending on the means of the host) no expense, was spared. 

During his four-month stay at the University of Chicago, Ghulam Husain cooked sumptuously for his numerous guests, and ate frequently in the city's different ethnic restaurants. Even today, he is fond of going, at five o'clock in the morning, for breakfast to the narrow, smoky, congested street in Ahmedabad known as bhathiyara gali, where bara handi ("twelve pots"--viscid and spice-ridden curries of all edible portions of the goat: brain, tounge, heart, liver, tripe, lung, trotters, and all the usual cuts) is served by the light of kerosene lamps to a motley of dozing Muslim laborers and idlers, and the occasional ustad. Traveling, too, is diverting for Ghulam Husain, who can be an enthusiastic tourist, particularly when he is abroad, unlike some Indian musicians who have difficulty in foreign cultures. As already mentioned, his ordinary dress is simple, though conspicuously long and flowing in its cut, typical of ustads; his taste for clothes worn in performance--still a courtly occasion for him--tend toward pale but expensive raw-silk kurtas and elegantly embroidered Kashmiri woolen shawls, for he believes that if an ustad looks confident and successful, he will more likely be taken as such. 

In his own words, his dress is "a question of prestige" (prestij ka saval hai) , as are his watch--with its spectacular metallic blue face--and his automobile. His first automobile, purchased with painstakingly gathered funds in 1964, was most of the time under repair; but when it was running, it became famous in Ahmedabad as the lal pari (the red fairy). The vehicle bears description. Ancient and British--perhaps a vintage Austin or Morris-- it was a quaint, stylish two-seater convertible, painted a dark but highly visible crimson. Ghulam Husain always dove the car to tuitions, and often took his children ( three sons, two daughters) or friends for a conspicuous tour of the city. Ramshackle though the automobile was, the fact that it was driven by a musician was not lost upon Ghulam Husain' s friends and the public at large. Few professional musicians in India can afford automobiles, and it is probable that in 1964 no other musician in the state of Gujarat had a car of his own. Though he enjoyed. the notoriety of the lal pari for a time, Ghulam Husain sold the car when its mechanical difficulties became too troublesome, and he purchased a somewhat newer Indian-manufactured Fiat which, though still needing frequent repairs, was certainly more practical and dignified than its whimsical predecessor. But the point had been carefully made: even people who did not attend his concert" knew that Ghulam Husain Khan was a visibly successful Ustad 

This is not to say that Ghulam Husain makes ostentation a way of life. His modest flat in Ahmedabad consists of two rooms and a partitioned verandah; it is located behind a petrol station in the old part of the city, in a large fifty-year-old compound that includes ~ miscellany of families of extremely diverse religious, regional, and even national backgrounds. Nor has his return from his foreign tours significantly changed his style of life. It seems more a function of the passage of time than of self-conscious change that his wife no longer keeps rigid parda (the traditional Islamic veiling of women); that he recently obtained a telephone to facilitate communication with his students, disciples, and friends; that he occasionally wears suits (as he did be: his tours) to social occasions; and that he now eats at small metal table with one or two of his children (though when guests come to his home, tea and dinner are still served on the traditional dastarkhwan spread on the floor.) He remains in touch with most of his close friends of fifteen years ago, though he has made many new friends as well. In all these respects, his life as an ustad has seen not so much a radical alteration as an expansion and enrichment of the traditional roles."

from  Asian Music: A symposium on the ethnomusicology of culture change in Asia V11-2 1976


side 1:
Raga Bhairavi alap with gat in drut teentaal

side2:
Raga Bihag - alap
Raga Shankar - gat in drut teentaal

Here is a youtube audio recording of Munir Khan performing Raga Desh






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