Introducing Yourself to Indian Classical Music 4-Voices
Contd. from here.
In the last two posts we heard the voice of MS Subbulakshmi, of the South Indian Carnatic tradition. It has to be said that North Indians who follow Hindustani music, i.e. the classical music of the North, know very little of the South Indian Carnatic tradition. Southerners who follow Carnatic music, however, often do listen to and appreciate Hindustani music. If there is one voice Northerners are familiar with, it is that of MS.
In this post we are first going to listen to the voice of “Gaana-Saraswati” (i.e “Goddess of song,” with specific reference to the Hindu Goddess of learning and music, Saraswati), Kishori Amonkar, who belongs to the North Indian Hindustani tradition and is one of India’s most famous classical vocalists.
As I mentioned earlier, the major North Indian traditions are Khayal and Dhrupad, sometimes collectively grouped under the label of “Hindustani music.”
Kishoritai, as she is repectfully known, (“tai” means elder sister in the Indian language Marathi), sings Khayal. She belongs to the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana (musical lineage). The first clips we heard, in the first post in this series were of the voice of Mallikarjun Mansur, who also belongs to this gharana. More on gharana later.
The composition that Kishoritai sings in the clip below is a Jaipur-Atrauli favourite, Malaniya Layi in the Raga Bhoop-Nat (a Jaipur-Atrauli speciality).
As you listen to more music, you will notice that Jaipur-Atrauli ragas often have double-barrelled names-funnily enough like the names of contemporary female singers of this gharana, such as Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande, Shruti Sadolikar-Katkar, Arti Ankaliker-Tikekar and Manjari Asnare-Kelkar. Yes, all these ladies are Maharashtrian.
In the piece below, you will notice the words of the composition are not given that much importance. There is a lot of “aaaaa” in the vocalisation instead, as Kishoritai explores the notes of the raga and brings out its flavour.
I think the clip is only a partial recording-unfortunately I don’t seem to have the longer version. There is another voice accompanying that of Kishoritai’s and it is that of a student. It is common practice, especially in the Hindustani tradition, for senior vocalists to be accompanied by their advanced students.
Malaniya Layi, in the raga Bhoop Nat by Kishori Amonkar
Below is a rendition of the same composition in the same raga by Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande, of the same gharana (this is a full rendition and not just a clip). Apologies for the poor quality of the recording. You will notice that though she sings “aaaa” as well, she uses more words of the composition.
Malaniya Layi, in the raga Bhoop Nat by Ashwini Bhide Deshpande
You will also notice how two singers from the same tradition can approach the same composition differently. But, despite the differences in the clips, you may start getting the shape and feel of a “raga,” in this case, Bhoop Nat. The best way to internalise the qualities of a raga, is to listen to as many different people as possible performing it.
Before we get into the technicalities of what a raga is, you will probably begin to have a “hearing” and “feeling” knowledge of the meaning of a raga, especially if you keep listening to different renditions of the same raga. It is enough to say for now that a raga is a melodic structure.
Again, listen to the clips in entirety. They aren’t long. I suggest turning up the volume a little so you can hear the subtle inflections of the voice (I suggest this for all clips across the posts).
Bhoop-Nat is an extraordinarily soothing, soul stroking, beautiful raga. I like to listen to it while unwinding.
The Best Of Kishori Amonkar (Amazon)
The Best of Kishori Amonkar (2 CD Pack) (Indiaclub)