Hear one of India’s most esteemed soloists as Krishna Mohan Bhatt performs Indian ragas on sitar, accompanied by tabla virtuoso Anindo Chatterjee on percussion. Their concert features an extensive rendition of raga Yaman Kalyan as well as music inspired by folk tunes and Bengali devotional songs. Yaman Kalyan is one of the most popular ragas and can be heard throughout Indian musical culture, from Bollywood film songs to the most elevated classical recitals.
North Indian Classical Music
Krishna Mohan Bhatt, sitar
Anindo Chatterjee, tabla
Richard Skinner, tanpura
Recorded at the Freer Gallery of Art on May 30, 2003.
|1.||Raga Yaman Kalyan||0:00–1:11:55|
|Alap (without meter or tabla)||0:00–19:00|
|Jor (with meter but without tabla)||19:00–30:30|
|Jhala (with tabla)||31:55–1:11:55|
|Two compositions in teental (16 beats)|
|2.||Thumri (light classical) in Raga Pilu Khafril||1:12:49–1:40:30|
|Based on folk melodies|
|3.||Kirtan (devotional melodies)||1:41:05–1:46:40|
Indian Classical Music
The heart of Indian classical music is the raga, a melodic form upon which performers improvise. Each raga has its own set of pitches (ranked by importance and emphasis) and characteristic melodic phrases that soloists incorporate into their improvisations. Each raga is also associated with a mood, a season, and a time of day. Connoisseurs of Indian music seek to be transported by the rasa (mood or essence) of each raga. In performance, a raga is also the projection of an artist’s inner spirit, a manifestation of the musician’s most profound feelings and sensibilities. The soloist breathes life into each raga while unfolding and expanding it so that each note shimmers and pulsates with life and the raga is revealed for its vibrant, incandescent beauty.
The rhythmic cycles used in raga performances are called talas, and musicians can choose among talas of many different lengths for any one raga or section of a raga performance. Those most typically used rangefrom three to sixteen beats per cycle (although one very obscure tala lasts 108 beats). How beats are grouped, divided, or stressed are the most important features of each tala. Different talas with the same number of beats per cycle may stress different individual beats, such that one tala may divide ten beats into 2-3-2-3, a second tala into 3-3-4, and a third into 3-4-3. Within the framework of the fixed beats, the drummer improvises to the same extent as the melody soloist. One of the most exciting moments for a seasoned listener occurs when both musicians, after their individual improvisations, come back together precisely on the main beat, or sum.
— adapted from notes by Ravi Shankar
Krishna Mohan Bhatt was born into a family of musicians, poets, and Sanskrit scholars who have upheld their tradition in Rajasthan for five generations and continue to this day. His forefathers migrated from the south of India to Rajasthan, a princely state at that time in the northwest, to seek employment in the gunijankhana (department of learned scholars) of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Krishna was introduced to the musical traditions of Senia school by his father, Shashi Mohan Bhatt, who was a distinguished sitarist of his time.
In his teens, Krishna spent many years of study under the tutelage of his guru, Ravi Shankar, and legendary musicians Nikhil Banerjee and Ali Akbar Khan. Krishna’s music was also influenced by other twentieth century stalwarts such as the vocalists Amir Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Abdul Karim Khan, Begum Akhtar, and Shobha Gurtu as well as some of the best folk singers of Rajasthan. Krishna’s repertoire in performance includes a wide variety of rare and old traditional compositions from these masters of folk music.
Krishna Bhatt has performed in major festivals on three continents. In India, his concerts have included appearances in the prestigious Saptak Music Festival in Ahmedabad, Haridas Sangeet Sammelan in Mumbai, and the Desert Festival in Jaisalmer. His performances in Europe have included concerts in Berlin, London, Paris, Brussels, and Luxembourg, and appearances at the Venice Biennale, Lugano Music Festival, Zurich’s Reitberg Museum, International Guitar Festival (Cordoba, Spain), and I Suoni Del Tempo (Cesena, Italy). He became the first Indian musician invited to participate in the avant-garde Music of Extended Duration Festival in Prague Castle in the Czech Republic. In America, his performances have included concerts at the Herbst Theater and the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York.
Anindo Chatterjee was born in Kolkatain 1953 and was inspired to take up tabla when he was just four years old by his uncle, the sitar player Pandit Biswanath Chatterjee. At age five he studied with Ustad Afaq Hussain Khan of Lucknow gharana (a school or lineage) and became the youngest artist to appear on All India Radio. At age six, Anindo became a disciple of Padmabhushan Gyan Prakash Ghosh and studied with him for over twenty years. Prakash Ghosh was well known for his extensive knowledge of all tabla gharanas, as well as his own Farukhabad gharana, founded by Haji Vilayat Khan Sahib. At age seventeen, Anindo won the All India Radio music competition and received the title of best young tabla player of the year from the president of India. Since 1970, he has toured the world, accompanying India’s leading soloists, including Nikhil Banerjee (sitar), Buddhadev Das Gupta (sarod), Ali Akbar Khan (sarod), Mallikarjun Mansur (voice), Budhaditya Mukherjee (sitar), Rais Khan (sitar), Gangubai Hangal (voice), Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute), and Shivkumar Sharma (santur).
This podcast was coordinated by Michael Wilpers, manager of performing arts. Audio recording and editing by Andy Finch and Suraya Mohamed. Web production by Gio Camozzi and Torie Castiello Ketcham. Copy editing by Ian Fry. Special thanks to the artists for granting permission to share their performances at the Freer and Sackler Galleries.