03 December, 2020

Tied In Notes Of Amiri Todi

Amjad Ali Khan’s recollections of 11 great classical musicians do have well-known details, but his anecdotes are lit up by a sense of ‘ethereality’

Photograph by Fotocorp
Tied In Notes Of Amiri Todi
outlookindia.com
2017-05-27T11:28:21+05:30

A discerning sentence in the initial pages goes thus: “I believe in being traditional, not conven­tio­nal”. Amjad Ali Khan then goes on to explain the difference in the long introductory note, and tacitly reiterates it in the subsequent chapters on a dozen exponents of Ind­ian classical music in the 20th century.

While referring to Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, the author notes that the Patiala gha­­rana vocalist believed the audience would not appreciate overly long compositions. Much later, in the penultimate chapter—on Kumar Gandharva—Amjad Ali counters a popular notion that the prodigy-turned-icon was a non-conformist. Modernising without losing the sup­erstructure is, to the sarod maestro, defying convention, while upholding tradition. He cites an early 1980s incident as an inst­ance. When Amjad Ali recorded an album of short pieces, he was flayed for the ‘capsules’. To him, the challenge was to distil the essence of a raga in a short time, as “after maybe an hour it was all repetition”. That’s...

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