Sunday, 18 January 2015

Gat-Toda and traditional Todas

A few days ago, I had shared this video of mine on Facebook.

After listening to it, a few of my Facebook friends had wanted to know more about this type of composition and it's provenance.

Well, this is a type of composition which we call Gat-Toda.
Gat-Toda is a purely instrumental baaj where matching Todas come with the Gat like a bouquet. They are often composed with phrases from the Gat itself.

To explain, let me quote a passage from an article at the ITC SRA website (since it is nicely written)-
"During the formative period of sitar music, techniques were borrowed from the 'been' and 'dhrupad',
and 'gat-toda' emerged as the first instrumental music style as opposed to vocal music. From this evolved the Masitkhani baaz.."

Now, I came across a photo of Ustad Enayat Khan on my friend Adrian Mcneil's FB Timeline. Adrian is a noted scholar of instrumental music history and a sarod player himself. It is a rare photo of Ustad Enayat Khan from the proceedings of the All India Music Conference - Lucknow 1925 published in a book. The caption says 'Inayat Khan (son of Imdad Khan; Sitar-player; Gat-Jora, Jor Alap Style; Indore State)'. Here, I suspect there has been a typographical error. I feel it's Gat-Toda and not Gat-Jora. One thing we have to keep in mind is that the people at the printing press are not musicians in general.

I have learnt from Prof. Amlan Dasgupta that there was a time when connoisseurs waited eagerly to listen to those Todas which were synonymous with an Ustad's music and if the Ustad chose not to play those, often requests were made to play those specific Todas in Mehfils.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Bageshree and Char-taal-ki-sawari

At the Salt Lake Music Festival, I played Bageshree with compositions set to Char-taal-ki-sawari in the vilambit laya and Teentaal (one in madhyalaya and another in drut).
Bageshree is such a majestic raga and I am absolutely in love with the raga.
Some believe, it has it's roots in folk music of the north-west and at the hands of the Ustads it has received the final shape of the raga that it is today.
Once, Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan and me were going somewhere by taxi in Kolkata. Kolkata is noted for slow traffic movements in the evenings. While inside the taxi, Ustadji showed me so many compositions on Bageshree that the sluggish traffic movement was more welcomed than hated for a change. In fact, to be honest, I wanted the traffic to stand still for the whole evening!
Out of those compositions, very interestingly, was one which had it's Sam on Pancham.
Incredible isn't it!
The Gat from the shared clip is a composition of Ustadji and the Gat starts from a very difficult but beautiful point on the time-cycle. It is very important for the amad and upaj, taans, todas and tihais, to end just before that point to bring out the true colours of this composition.
My Ustadji keeps on saying that a musician should be at ease with all the other taals as he/she is with Teentaal. And from the very beginning he has introduced me to compositions based on all kinds of taals and that has made me appreciate and enjoy laya and taal even more. I have learnt and heard quite a few beautiful compositions in Tisra-rupak, 5and1/2, Asta-rupak and other not-so-popular time-cycles. At the hands of Ustadji they sound as grand and beautiful.

Here is an excerpt from my concert -

I wrote about this concert in a previous Blog post -

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Different colours of Hari Om Tatsat

who better than Khansahab to say Om.. Om is for that being who utters it from his/her very core..
it's not a property of a specific group of people..
in Khansahab's voice it does sound Maha-Mantra

....Spontaneous creativity, technical virtuosity, soul-touching voice...
so many years after his death, it's still so full of life.
one gets transported instantly to a by-gone era

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan - Hari Om

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Excerpt from a concert held at Pandit Sankha Chatterjee's house

It was an honour to perform at tabla maestro Pandit Sankha Chatterjee's house with him in the audience. And he showered me with much love by sitting through my performance, although he was not keeping well. For the rest of the evening and night he listened from his room. His words of appreciation still ring in my ears. Surely it was his love, as I am not worthy of such appreciation.
On the tabla was one of Panditji's foremost students Sri Subhajyoti Guha. He is a wonderful tabla player and a gentleman! It was an enjoyable evening with him on the tabla and many brilliant musicians in the audience.

I had played a traditional Gat-Toda of the Etawah Gharana. My Ustadji had told me that it was composed by his grandfather Ustad Wahid Khan sahab. Beautiful matching Todas are played with this Gat.
This excerpt contains one of my favourite gats in Shyam Kalyan. It is a madhyalaya-drut gat composed in Ektaal. This is Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan's composition! I had played a Drut Gat after this, which has been made famous by Ustad Vilayat Khan on Sitar.

Could not resist myself from sharing this historic photo of Pandit Sankha Chatterjee performing with Ustad Vilayat Khan in 1968. This has been 'lifted' from Panditji's Facebook Cover photo album.

And here is Pandit Sankha Chatterjee accompanying the great Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan as he sings Raga Yaman with Ustad Munawar Ali Khan giving him vocal support.

To get in touch with Pandit Sankha Chatterjee you can visit -
To get in touch with Sri Subhajyoti Guha you can visit -