17 June, 2021

Perfect Fourths

Pt Kishan Maharaj and his subtle, thinking tabla was our last link to the quartet of greats

Perfect Fourths
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
For years, this house at Benares' Kabirchowra neighbourhood has been a landmark for the local people. Despite its pretty nondescript exterior, it nurtured a priceless tradition within. Inside, the walls were adorned with portraits of the great ustads, and at the end of the hall was a huge statue of Ganesha playing the pakhawaj. Day and night, the sounds of the tabla reverberated through the bylanes of this locality, as though providing a rhythmic counterpoint to the pace of life in this bustling city. This was the gurukul set up by tabla wizard Pandit Kishan Maharaj, who passed away on May 4, aged 85.

The death of the great master, a Padma Vibhushan recipient, leaves a huge void in the world of Indian percussion, for he was the last of the great quartet of tabla maestros—the others were Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa, Ustad Alla Rakha and Pandit Samta Prasad—who will all now live only on vinyl. All of them dazzled not just with their technical virtuosity, but because they were highly creative thinkers who raised the tabla from an accompanist's...
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