Saturday 28 July 2007

Taan-talizing Stuff!

It is humanly impossible to sing taans so fast, with such emotive imagination, and yet each note so exact, sung in a crystal clear voice! Unless, of course, you are Ustad Rashid Khan. I was at the Barkha Ritu festival of "rain and ragas" concerts, where I had the privilege of hearing this man sing, live.

An hour or more of Megh Malhar, followed by Des (including a tarana, one of his favourite type of compositions) convinced me that I have probably never heard a better singer and voice in contemporary Indian classical music. His voice culture leaves very little to be desired, and his improvisation is characterized by a high level of technical ability across a large range, as well as a strong emotive basis - and the latter is something which is rare even among the old Masters.

And his taans are simply electrifying! I remember - there was this kid in the row ahead of me, he must have been about 6 or so, and had come along with his parents. And he was typically being restless and fidgeting around in his seat and in the aisle (actually, this went for a large part of the rest of the crowd as well - but that's probably fodder for another post!). This went on for the first ten minutes or so, and it was quite irritating for the people around - meanwhile the Ustad had started his concert with a slow elaboration. And then Rashid-bhai launched into his first taan, and I saw this kid's attention literally arrested to the stage now! It was instantaneous. He'd been pottering around in the aisle, and at that moment, quietly sat back in his chair, and not a peep was heard from him for the better part of an hour, till the end of Megh Malhar! I don't think anything more need be said!

Here are some samples - Raag Basant, and Raag Marwa. Check these out.

Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and S Shashank were playing a jugalbandi next. Unfortunately for them, they had planned to perform Megh Malhar and Des as well, as Vishwa-ji pointed out before they began, but Rashid Khan ended up choosing the same ragas! So they had to change tack to Pooriya Dhanasri (another majestic raag) for their main piece! Heck, it's the rainy season, what's the big deal in stealing the thunder a little?!

1 comment:

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