23 June, 2021

Language Of Strings

He gave us his declamations—and his uniquely polyglot, singing sitar

Gireesh G.V.
Language Of Strings
With Vilayat Khan saheb's passing away, what I always adored as the best of sitar has disappeared from my horizon. I've heard Vilayat Khan saheb since I was 15, he was about 20 then. And I watched him attain dizzying heights, hitherto unprecedented. His command over the instrument would leave me breathless, wondering if it was not a part of his body. He could do anything he liked with his sitar. The degree of, tayyari which he achieved led everyone else scrambling after him. But, for Khan saheb, mere tayyari was not enough, it took with it the accuracy of notes, overpowering musicality and the consistency of his raga logic to its limit. He could coax his sitar to sing, cry, coo and even shout, as and when the necessity arose. The directions and directional changes of his taans were unpredictable and full of surprises.

Over the years, he had developed a unique tonality, which, both in his music and in real life, made him stand in an...
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