Indian Classical Music
If for some reason you are allowing yourself only ONE Indian Classical Music album, which one would it be?
Indian Classical Music covers two major Classical traditions – Carnatic Music and Hindustani Music. So to be ‘Indian’ the album would need include both. And therefore, I propose this extraordinarily marvellous album.
Album : South Meets North (1983)
Label : EMI G/ECSD 2932, 1983 Re-published by Saregama
Artist : Lalgudi Jayaraman (Sept 17, 1930)
Artist : Amjad Ali Khan (Oct 9, 1945)
I have had this album since the mid-eighties and I still haven’t tired of it. What makes this so special? The Maestros play their instruments with a skill that ordinary mortals can only dream about. Lalgudi Jayaraman traces his illustrious lineage to a disciple of Saint Tyagaraja (1767-1847), one of the pillars of Carnatic Music. Amjad Ali Khan is the sixth generation of the equally illustrious Bangash lineage. Both play stringed instruments and the sounds complement and contrast perfectly. Lalgudi Jayaraman plays the violin in his own unique style which mimics the vocal style of Carnatic music, with beautifully smooth transitions, waves of melody and rhythm caressing all ours senses. Amjad Ali Khan plays the Sarod, like ripples on a smooth lake at times, like cascading waterfalls at others. This confluence of Southern and Northern traditions means that the music is almost all improvised (the composed pieces are region specific). The call-and-response in this album is an education in music. A jewel of an album.
Listen to the album on Music India Online here.
To my great joy, I recently found videos of Lalgudi Jayaraman and Amjad Ali Khan on Youtube. I cannot begin to explain how joyous that first viewing was! These are two men I have loved and admired for years and here they were, playing right in front of me!! I knew their music, now I saw how they interacted with each other and even ‘played’ with the percussionists! Their music is so wonderful! I know I am gushing, but oh, this is an old love affair….a cradle-to-graveyard crush….
There are two performances online. The first one of Raga Hindolam (one of the ragas on the featured CD)
part 1, part 2 and part 3 (sorry, embedding not allowed)
The other video features the Raga Simhendramahdyamam. Play special attention to the interplay between the artists starting 21:07..its magic!
7 responses to “The One Album to Have”
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When I first saw the “One Album to have” blog entry, I didn’t get a chance to listen to the music or watch the video embedded in the thread. I figured I’ll come back—and did–when I had some time to spare.
I was brought up in the South, at least for the first 17 years of my life before I left the country. So I know of Lalgudi Jayaraman and of Vellore Rambadran. Amjadh Ali Khan and Ustad Shafaat Ahmed Khan? Not so much.
As I began to watch this Jugalbandhi, parochialism and pride was lurking somewhere in the recesses of my brain, secretly rooting for “my” guys to best “their” guys. Then, as the polyphonous music progresses, climbing many breathtaking peaks and crossing a few picturesque valleys and culminates in a crescendo that starts at about 32 minutes and doesn’t let go for a good 2 minutes or so, I’m spellbound by the sheer talent of the musicians, and grateful for the half an hour or so of unadulterated aural bliss. Pride and parochialism are supplanted by appreciation and respect for the artists who transcend race, religion and regional bias. In Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The Ballad of East and West,” the third and fourth lines of the first stanza,
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
is as applicable to South and North. When equals meet face to face, it matters not whence they came, for they ARE equals.
Thank you, Suja, for posting “One Album to have” and for embedding the YouTube video. I enjoyed it much and am in your debt.
Take care and be well,
Hello Ravi, You have beautifully expressed your reservations and subsequent admiration for the two maestros. Your language does justice to the beauty of the music, thank you 🙂 You can understand then as to why I call their album unique..they are so brilliant together that I lose track of space and time when I concentrate. I hope that one day you get time to listen to the album as well.
Your words are beautiful. I’m very new to Carnatic music and reading your thoughts and confessions has inspired me to delve deeper into a music that that totally captured my interest and imagination.
Thank you for the kind words, Guy. I appreciate it.
I am a huge fan of Carnatic music, but I am not an expert in that divine form of music. I rely on the generous and prolific contributions of Suja and others (Prof. Shivkumar, for one: http://www.shivkumar.org/music/index.html), who write about Carnatic music, to buttress my *very* limited knowledge.
I noted in your comments elsewhere (I get email updates from Suja’s site) that you are learning to play violin under the guidance of a teacher from Tamil Nadu. I hope you’ll find that special Guru-Sishya (Teacher-Student) bond with your teacher that can be quite wonderful and life-enriching, something my son experienced with his mridangam teacher and wrote about when his teacher recently passed away. (You can find it here, in case you are interested: http://tinyurl.com/je6clql)
As you delve deeper into Carnatic music, you may find yourself gravitating to a particular “ragam” or “talam” or artist.
I happen to love Mohana (means, quite appropriately, “beautiful”) ragam and and sometimes get lost in the works of Maharajapuram Santhanam, whose soothing and melodious rendering of “Mohana Rama” is, in my opinion, one of the better ones out there. You can find it here http://tinyurl.com/jrggnwz, but there are longer versions by him with elaborate violin/mridgangam solos that you can find on YouTube or elsewhere.
As you move forward in your studies and appreciation of Carnatic music, it is my hope that you find it as soothing to the soul as I and many others do.
Best of luck,
Thank you. I am enjoying getting to know my guru. She is truly patient and kind.
I, too, love Mohanam. And I will listen to your links.
Sri guru byo namaha,
I’m still a Caranatic music fan at heart, though I have come to appreciate Hindustani music more. I have the work of some of the Hindustani musicians you have featured on your posts in my collection, and thanks to you, recently added Channulal Mishra to that group. (Oh, I’d never have known about Wadalis if I didn’t read about them in one of your Qawwali posts. Thanks!)
As I mentioned elsewhere, I have started appreciating Rajasthani folk songs as well, thanks to my accidental listening of Munshi Khan’s “warm up” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB4uxZ4OUvY) a while back.
Broadening one’s horizons is good, I suppose. Your contributions to that effort is much appreciated.