In the 18th century, three cousins, who were horse traders by profession, and rabab players by choice, came from Afghanistan and settled in the Uttar Pradesh region, in and around Shahjahanpur. They were Ghulam Bandagi Khan, Najaf Khan and Karimullah Khan. Inspired by the music of north India, they learnt classical music, and their descendants formed the main sarod gharanas. Ghulam Bandagi Khan settled in the Rewa court, and his son Ghulam Ali learnt from Pyaar Khan and Jaafar Khan—the rababiya descendants of Tansen’s son Mian Bilas Khan. It is he who is said to have made structural adaptations in the rabab, to create the modern day sarod. His most famous descendant was Hafiz Ali Khan whose father settled in Gwalior, thus spawning the Senia Gwalior sarod gharana.
Perhaps there will be a cyber sabha not too far in the future, fully equipped with the musicians and the enrapt audience, a virtual reality et al.—This was the concluding line of one of my articles on music published in December 2000. The phrase “cyber sabha” had been coined by my husband even as early as 1997, when there was a spurt in the number of programmes in the music season in Chennai. The bewildering array left many a music buff in a quandary as to the choice of programmes. In a family of music lovers there were as many preferences as the number of individuals. Web streaming of programmes have become common in the last decade. But when the lockdown started, this facility gained a new relevance. Full concerts were presented on the web. It was as though the artists had come home to give each one of us private chamber concerts.
`Madurai’ Muralidaran is a popular composer and choreographer, successful teacher and performer of Bharatanatyam. Laya, Tamil and music are his life-breath. Driven by his three passions, he frequently sets a challenge for himself to compose something complex and novel, and emerges victorious. Lyrics, tunes and jatis seem to be constantly jostling in his subconscious mind to crystallise into compositions at his beck and call. As a composer he penned his first varnam in Simhavahini (not a common raga) in 1993. His compositions released in over hundred discs and via iTunes, are widely used by dance gurus worldwide, especially the younger generation teachers. He is happy and proud of the fact, but what saddens Muralidaran is that he has not been properly acknowledged for his compositions nor has he received due recognition for his achievements. His mammoth effort in composing full Bharatanatyam margams in all the 35 talas is indeed creditable. He has the knack of presenting the tough rhythmic permutations and combinations to the audience in an attractive manner. He has released a book Nrithya Lahari comprising the jatiswarams he has composed in the 72 melakarta ragas.
Anyone who is familiar with the world of Carnatic music, would recognise S. Rajam’s paintings of the Trinity—Syama Sastry, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar. They are probably his most popular creations. But his paintings of the seven swaras based on the visualisation of the swara personalities described in Sangeeta Kalpadrumam—the treatise by vidwan Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar, are equally interesting and beautiful. That Kalpadrumam was the source of inspiration for these paintings has been acknowledged by the late Rajam himself, in the detailed notes that he has given to Sruti.
5 News & notes
9 Spotlight v Lockdown online programmes
16 Birthday calendar
18 Lockdown notes v Initial reactions
21 Readers write v My reflections of Vimala Rangachar
22 Amjad Ali Khan
29 Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan v The last interview
33 Popular choreographers v Madurai R. Muralidaran
37 Awareness v That safe step (part 1)
38 Tribute v T. Rukmini
43 S. Rajam’s paintings v The Saptaswara devatas
4 6 From the Editor
Front Cover: Amjad Ali Khan (Photo by Innee Singh)
Inset: Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan (Courtesy: Sarod Ghar Archives)