Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ustad Asad Ali Khan • Rudra Vina - P.1978

Ustad Asad Ali Khan • Rudra Vina 
EMI India - ECSD 2533 - P.1978

Side A

A1 Mian ki todi - alap, jod and jhala 21'28

Side B

B1 Desh - jod, jhala and composition in jhanpatal 21'55

Here is another treasure I like to share with you. The sound is far from the deep long sustain of the sonorous been of Zia Mohiuddin, but nonetheless a wonderful vital echo from the past and it is no wonder, Asad Ali Khan's father, Ustad Sadiq Ali, served in the Alwar court before he moved to the Rampur court. It was at Rampur that Asad Ali was born and initiated into the instrument by his father, when he was just six. Fourteen hours of practice every day for 15 years was the painstaking discipline he was put through until the Rudra veena itself became a part of his existence. His father studied the same way under his grandfather Ustad Musharraf Ali Khan, who in turn was groomed by Khan Saheb's great grandfather the legendary Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. This is another of the great findings from my good friend ‘His Excellency's’ collection of records. The kindness of his voice, unable to subdue a light chuckle, still lingering in my ears... Just take it, take the lot, and do what you please with them, there can be no harm letting those Luobaniyans here some good music...

Ustad Asad Ali Khan is considered to be the only surviving exponent of Rudra Veena in ‘Khandarbani’, one of the four ancient styles of Indian Classical music. The history of his family can be traced back to seven generations. His ancestors belonged to Jaipur Gharana of Rajasthan. They were court-musicians to the Maharajas of Jaipur and also taught them music. An account of this family is available in the history of Rajasthan and the instruments of Asad Ali's ancestors are displayed in the museums of Jaipur and Alwar. His grandfather, a leading Veena player of the country, was chosen by the British Government to represent India at the fair of Oriental Wonders in Paris at the beginning of this century.

Ustad Asad Ali Khan was born at Alwar in 1937 - 2011)
(he passed away 14 June 2011 ed. bolingo)

He had his early training in vocal music. Sitar and Veena from his illustrious father, late Ustad Sadiq Ali Khan, who was a great exponent of the Veena and a court-musician of Rampur. Through innate talent, vigourous practice, and playing in duets with his father for years, Asad Ali Khan consummated his style with complete control over the instrument.

An accomplished musician today, Ustad Asad Ali Khan plays with rare skill and utmost precision. His recitals are marked with detailed elaboration and masterly treatment of the Ragas. Particularly notable in his performance are the meditative character of his Alap and the clarity of his strokes, particularly in Gamak-Jod and Jhala.

Ustad Asad Ali Khan is the recipient of the ‘Sangeet Shiromani’ Award from Lalit Kala Kendra of Kanpur. He has been regularly participating in Radio Sangeet Sammelans, Television, National Programmes and various music conferences all over the country. He has visited Afghanisthan. Italy and England and appeared in many concerts abroad.

The instrument

Rudra Veena sometimes called ‘Been’ or ‘Veena’ (North Indian) is the most sacred and ancient instrument of India according to the Hindu faith and is said to be more than 5000 years old. It is the only stringed instrument created by lord Shiva. one of the three ‘Rupas’ (faces) of God. It is further said that he created this instrument while contemplating the shapely figure of His Wife, the Goddess Parvati.

‘Rudra Veena’ has a bamboo fret-board about 22' long and 2' wide, upon which are fixed 19 to 24 metallic frets, one for each semitone of two octaves. The fretboard is mounted on two full gourds, each about 14" in diameter. The instrument has four main strings and three side strings.

A Rudra Veena player masters ‘alap’ which is elaboration of the ‘raga’ in slow tempo, ‘gamak-jod’ in medium tempo, and ‘Jhala’ which is quick tempo. Usually the serious classical music of the purest form called ‘Dhrupad’ is played on this instrument and the main percussion accompaniment is the ‘Pakhawaj’.

It is stated that the Veena is the forerunner of the Sitar. Amir Khusro of legendary fame invented the Sitar on the basis of the Veena around the 13th Century. With this instrument, all the twenty-two ‘shrutis’ (subnotes) of Indian music can be explained and demonstrated distinctively. Though a stringed instrument, it is claimed that it can display the subtleties of a Raga more effectively than a Veena.

For this, his first LP on the Rudra Veena, Ustad Asad Ali Khan has selected two Ragas: Mian Ki Todi and Desh. He is ably accompanied on Pakhawaj by Pandit Gopal Das who is an artiste of All India Radio, Delhi.

Don't miss these webpages that focus on the been

Here is an article from The Hindu describing a documentary made about him, anyone knows how to get to see that movie?

Music ▼ +


Anonymous said...

wow, you are on a roll...ty ty ty.only person missing of the triumvirate is Shamsuddin Faridi Desai -- only one of the three to have dropped acid -- truly psychedelic music. btw all zm dagar fans check out the following collection:

Anonymous said...

gettin' better and better -- wow!!!

Anonymous said...

since people are talking shop, i might ask about sitarist Gokul Nag... I've only heard a few brief samples from the Raga Records web site, but "oh what a feelin'" and maybe i should just throw that out there...


Anonymous said...

btw whats the story on the acid drop? any pictures? yeah yeah yeah

DrKashyap said...

Thanks a lot for this very good track esp of desh from asadali's earlier days. Very rare to find indeed ! God bless you ever !

Janas said...

Thanks again generous Bolingo! This is a fantastic music blog! Unique.

Suresh said...

Thank you very much for this early gem, bolingo ji!

arvind said...

I'll join our friends above in thanking you and His Excellency for another great record! We're fortunate to be in the midst of so many generous people; makes one think what a different world this would be if only everyone were so giving.

Bo, that documentary is a good find, had not heard of it till now. Some snooping on google revealed very little information on the film, and it doesn't seem to be available in any of the handful of online shops selling documentaries in India.

But this search revealed another interesting thing - the filmmaker, Renuka George, has also made another film, Dagarvani, which as the name suggests, is based on dagarvani dhrupad with a focus on Zahiruddin and Wasifuddin Dagar. There are some details here, and from the looks of it, this was produced in France and must have been screened on the Arte channel.

I'll be keeping a sharp eye out for both films here, but something tells me France would be a better place to find them :)

Barron said...

While you have certainly exposed all of us to some fascinating music from other parts of the world, I'm glad to see a return to music of India (at least for a while).

Thank you for your extensive commentaries. They certainly enhance the learning and listening experience for all of us.

I was first exposed to Dhrupad, and rudra vina through your posts. I've learned to love both.

A question: sitar & sarod duets are not uncommon. Are there rudra vina duets with these higher pitched instruments? I think such duets might be quite interesting.

Thanks for all you do.

Giri Mandi said...

Endless thanks as always, B.
Looking forward to getting more infos on the elusive Renuka George.
In the meanwhile, for the very few who missed it, there's a wonderful Doordarshan performance in which the Ustad dives deep into the misteries of Raga Asavari, in decent audio & video definition (featuring an impeccable even if slightly long-winded introduction by Chandani Chaudhri):

Abhik Majumdar said...

Thanks ever so much for this recording. I had no idea it even existed! Certainly a wonderful way to remember the recently-departed Khansahib.

One more thing, I'm thinking to write a small tribute for our blog, Debating Shastriya Sangeet . I would like to include there the image of the LP cover, of course with full credit to you and also a link to this blogpost. Do let me know if this is OK with you.

Many, many thanks once again for this wonderful recording!

Anonymous said...

the film on ustad Asad Ali Khan will be screened again at IIC on January 23rd, 6.30pm in the annexe. It should be released in 2012 in a book, dvd, cd format.
Renuka George

José Alfredo Limón Angeles said...

Un gran Ustad...

José Alfredo Limón Angeles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bead Rifle said...

Another wonderful exponent of the Kandahar Vani style of Dhrupad is Pandit Santosh Banerjee of Calcutta, albeit on the Surbahar.
I had the privilege of learning khayal singing from his wife - Chabbi Banerjee (daughter of Sangeet Acharya Kashinath Chattopadhyay).

Panditji is truly a magician with the instrument and his soul reverberates the kandahar vani style of dhrupad. He is from the Rampur-Senia gharana and student of Ustad Dabir Khan, the grandson of the legendary Ustad Wazir Khan of Rampur.

Unknown said...

HI, The link is inactive, can we please get this files for download. i'd really appreciate it! The site is a treasure trove and this particular album is heavenly!