Thursday, April 06, 2006

From the concert hall

(cross-posted from

Padmavati Shaligram, 87-year-young doyenne of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, performed at the ITC-SRA Sangeet Sammelan last November. I know certain readers have reservations about this institution, but there's no disputing the fact that they have excellent concerts and put some very fine stuff online. So do check out the videos of this still amazing singer -- Nand (the traditional favourite "E bari sainyan sakala bana bana ke"), Jaijayanti ("Kahiye sakhi shyam sundar so"), Pilu and Pahadi. Listen to those pinpoint, soaring aakar taans and remind yourself (possibly with some difficulty) that this lady has spent seventy-five years on the stage.

In my last years of school, our house got an extension and I got the resulting room on the roof. I had scrounged up enough cash from birthday money et al to buy a cheapo double-deck music system, and that sustained me for many many solitary hours. There used to be this radio programme on Monday mornings which played classical songs and popular numbers based on them -- and it had this incredibly irritating host whose voice I couldn't stand. So after recording everything I used to painstakingly clip out just the track announcements and join them with the songs themselves. If you've never done deck-to-deck editing of raw radio recordings (or physically transferred entire reels from one cassette shell to another) you haven't lived :). There were also a couple of boxes of gramophone records and a cranky player with speakers which frequently had to be banged hard to stop a strange humming noise whose provenance I have yet to discover.

After long evenings usefully spent examining the ceiling of that room, Padmavati's Nand was pretty much my standard bedtime music. Switch off the lights, turn it on, wait for oblivion. The voice has lost a little of its mellifluity now, but who's complaining?

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