Sahela Re Aa mil Jaye…Sapt Suran ke Bhed Sunaye
Janam janam ka sang na bhule ..ab ke mile to bicchad na jaye
GanaSaraswati Kishori Amonkar , popularly referred as Kishoritai, was born onApril 10, 1931 to famous a singer of Jaipur gharana ‘Mogubai Kurdikar’, a disciple of Alladiya Khan saheb who was doyen of Jaipur ghrana. As expected Tai learnt music from her mother. Her mother also ensured that she took lessons from other musicians in fields like Ghazal,thumri and other forms of classical /semi-classical music. She even asked her to get further trained by her competitor ‘Kesarbai Kerkar’ ..However this did not happen due to misunderstandings between Kesarbai and Mogubai .
Kishori Amonkar quickly imbibed the nuances of the difficult Jaipur-Atrauli gharana of music. She has developed her own style which emphasizes the emotional content of musical notes while maintaining the rigor of the Jaipur “gaayaki” (singing style). She has achieved this mastery over music through practice, study and meditating over music. The entire study of the raga is expressed through her performance. Her deep thinking and study of music is expressed not only though her music, but also through her writings and speeches. She is an excellent speaker and is famous throughout India for her speeches on RasaSiddhant (Theories of Rasa) in music. She has developed her own style of music suitable for her tone and voice. Listening to her performance is a rich experience. Hers is a mind of a connoisseur, a painter, a devotee and a scholar. All these blend beautifully to enrich the experience of the listener. Her meditative trance like state while she sings is a delight to watch. Her performances are always disciplined and well organized. A musical performance for her is worship to God and that transcends onto the audience as well.
She carried forward the Jaipur legacy by training disciples like Manik Bhide, Padma Talwalkar, Arun Dravid, Raghunandan Panshikar, Meera Panshikar, Nandini Bedekar, Vidya Bhagwat, , granddaughter Tejashree Amonkar, and violinist Milind Raikar.
Kishori tai’s first record was of Pat bihag,bhairavi and this jaunpuri drut.(Chhum Chhananan Bichhuva baje‘).
One of her most popular rendering…
I have compiled her views and thoughts on music from her several interviews and documentary ( Bhinna Shadja by Amol Palekar ) in following interview format …An interview I wish I had taken but will never dare to do…
Her Views on Guru- Shishya Parampara
I believe in the guru-Shishya parampara. I don’t believe in learning from texts and cassettes. Nowadays, students record, they go home and learn dead music. Learning from a guru is live learning. It is a give and take of souls.
Our music is the fifth Veda. The Vedas teach you Brahma Vidya. You cannot learn that from a machine. If you go on contemplating and meditating upon the divine art, I am sure you will reach the ultimate destination of a note – which is Brahma. I am trying my best to reach that.
This art needs meditation. It is not that I don’t love the public. It is because of them I am where I am today. I consider each one of you as an embodiment of Raghavendra Swamiji. When I sing, you become Raghavendra… I am seriously moving away from performing. I am waiting for a chance to get into teaching completely. That’s my goal.
Listening to guru helps you to get rid of your ‘Ahankar( ego)’. It automatically goes by following guru. Once during concert I was sitting next to my mother on stage on tanpura. However I was not singing when I was expected to fill the blanks. My mother told me on stage in front of everyone to leave stage if I do not want to sing.
I am not teaching for money or publicity but its for your identity. So I need to be serious.
Music has to be taken seriously.
In North India, music is treated as entertainment. I detest that to the core….people don’t care. They casually walk in and out of the theatre, while you are singing. The audience in Madras also does that. I feel it is not their fault. If you see Tirupathi Balaji standing before you, what will you do ? You will get rooted to the spot. So I think, perhaps, I lack the qualities to make me forget myself and in turn make you forget everything else.”
We have given an entertainment value to our music. Singing, practising and performing, all are different. These are the three aspects of music. I give importance to singing. It is like talking to your soul. It is an inner communion which you are trying to communicate … in the process, naturally it will diminish in value.
Relevance of Musical Formats
I believe that Indian music is nothing but the expression of a feeling. If I say, ‘I love you,’ can you measure it? You just have to feel that vibration. We have limited our music to formats. In North India, every raga is sung in a typical form. First alaap, then vistaar, then you put words into the alaap; words in the sthai, then dhruaa … We repeat the entire repertoire. I don’t think one needs to sing dhruta here. Dhruta conveys an entirely different feeling. You sing it when you are restless or have an intense feeling. But we don’t do that. Apologetically, I accept these faults. You do the same in Carnatic music. In a performance you give a break, you give some time for the violin, some time for the mridangam. It is a break from the emotion.
You should learn these formats when you are a student. It’s high time that I took the plunge and followed that feeling and experienced it myself. I pray to God to give me the strength to go to that level, which is abstract.
My students are a nice blend of mind and brain which you need in art. You cannot be merely sentimental, devoid of intellect. There should be a perfect balance between intellect and heart. It is known as sayyam in Indian religion. This is how we ultimately reach moksha. But you must understand that you need control to do that. I am learning to control myself. I know I am an extremely intelligent person. This is why my mother did not take me to any concerts until she approved of it. I believe music is universal… You may change formats. But you cannot change the feeling. I give prominence to that!”
The two systems – Hindustani and Carnatic – are more the result of practical tradition, influenced by environmental cultural forces. I think this is a world of notes. We should not put in too many words, too many rhythmical acrobatics into our singing. It is high time instrumentalists got out of the acrobatics with the percussionists. These are just gimmicks. The worst exploitation of the audience is by gimmicky artists. Listeners have been led to believe that they should be excited by a performance. That goes exactly against the principles of Indian classical music, which brings you peace.
The burning question …..Do we need Musical gharanas ?
Just like the way I don’t understand the meaning of the caste system, I don’t get the idea behind segregation of gharanas. Music is the study of human existence. If Brahmins are supposed to propagate knowledge, how have they served by justifying the caste system? Brahma is present in every human being and every person is capable of music. So to me, the gharanas don’t really serve a purpose. At the end of the day, all music is one and they have to spread the knowledge of music and not selective knowledge.
Music is Language of Notes.
Music is simple. It is a language. A language of notes. Music is universal. You need to feel it, get lost in its magic and feel at peace every time you sing. I feel at peace whenever I sing. It is about staying in the world of trance and not consciously rendering notes. They need to come spontaneously. For that we need to approach music with a different perspective from the way we usually do,
I believe students shouldn’t start their training by jumping to raagas in the early stages of
training. You have to live in the world of just notes for some time. Somehow people have come to believe that some ragas are simple. We keep thinking about our audience, the difficulty level of raagas, our efforts and our hardwork. We need to understand that. We speak a language to convey something. Music is a language and everybody needs to spend some time in the world of notes. Even a sa has a world of its own. You have to say sa maybe a million times to understand what it actually means. We need to travel with the note, extend the time, and feel its presence. This follows for the other six notes. And at the end of the day, it all means the same,
You can’t explain the difference between Shudh kalyan rishabh and Bhupali rishabh. You have to practically understand it by knowing the note. We first need to master our notes. We need to master it to such a level that you can give an extempore performance. Try your own permutations and combinations. I’m known for superfast taan, something that you have to train for years together. But that is not music. Raag is a miniscule part of music. But the knowledge of notes is extensive and you have to give it time. By that I mean years and years of hard work and perseverance. These days nobody cares to know
If you want to practice raagas, leave bandish. Try and befriend a raag without the bandish. You will then realise what it means. Practice with just plain notes. You will automatically see a vision. The taal system is not required every time. Test yourself without giving yourself the taal. It is just an aid to the raag,
Importance of Tuning the tanpura.
Playing the tanpura well is of utmost importance – even more important than tuning
it. Well, it is an art. You see, though the frequencies of the notes vary, their sound level should
be the same. One should strike the next string in sucha manner that the sound of the second is blended into the first and so on and thus thereby there is being established sacred serious, musical cyclic pattern. Of course it inspires me to sing, but at times I am afraid even to mingle my own vocal notes into that divine sound. However, one thing I must state that the
scientific rendering of a tanpura is different from its aesthetical rendering; in thc case of the latter, the stress is significant.
(And when she is tuning the tanpura – to the admiration of some, whilst tesing the patience of many – she is a picture of concentration. Her eyes gently shut, one hand adjusting thc beads below, the other stretching out towards the knobs at the other end, she becomes an object of beauty for any photographer, a portrait painter or even all ordinary viewer. )
How the Raaga should be presented? ….
Raag to be presented as it is or what u have understand ..so u have to learn all the time
Every phrase to be perfected before getting into new… still recovering new phrases in bhoop after singing for 25 years
Many languages are there so even swar has its own language. If u master this art then notation/sargam is not required…swar olakh ( insight of swara) is important.. Swar is like bindu( point) which has ‘Aas’ which spreads like sun rays . Notation is more on laykari side than on swar side….taan is more important and complicated than sargam Ttaans should not be broken that’s why ‘dam Saas’ ( singing in single long breath) should be increased
Introspection and Realisation of Classical music.
I Stayed away from music for 9 yrs as I had lost my voice It was like live deat but I recovered my music in that phrase. I was born to be singer… I had love and attraction for music even I was not able to sing. I used to whisper music but My mother stopped it. She asked to sing inside that helped me to stay in music all the time and discover meaning of music.
Classical means beyond which there is nothing. In singing raag bhav is important. You are not for singing sur but you are singing beautifull bhav sangeet.. I sang film music to learn how to play with word, taal, laya but mother told do not touch her tanpura if I wanted to continue singing film music .. so I did not sing further but I studied…
Previous I used tolook at music as power of medium but now I try to show bhav of raag and how I give offering to it. Art is about immotions..raag is bhava..its inner state of mind
I applied Ras siddhant to music as swar siddhant and tried to give my music Immotional expression to surpass technicalities of classical music.
Some of Her Best Renderings………
• Bhoop Family…Bhoop, Shudha Kalyan, Deskar, bhupnat, bhupnaat, Shuddha nat, Jait kalyan
• Bilawal Family ….Allaiya Bialwal, Sukhiya bilawal, Devgiri bilawal
• Todi Family… Todi, Bahaduri todi, Bilaskhani todi
• Malhaars…….Miya ka Malhaar, gaud malhaar, Anandi Malhaar, Meera malhar
• Jod raags … Lalita gauri, Basanti Kedar, Basant Bahar, lalat pancham, Nat malhaar
• Others..Ahir Bhairav, Jaunpuri,Sampoorna Malkuans, Bhimpalas, Rageshri,Suha, bihagada,Bhinna Shadja, Bhairavi,*gaur sarang (kajrare tore naina)
• And Many More…HERE
(it was originally written for SwarSutra facebook group By. Anand juvekar)
*audio courtesy : Anindya Roychowdhury