“Swar hi Ishwar hain…. Through sound u can reach God….Sound is above Song, which is affected by language, story, state, literature etc” – Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.
I might be forgetting some of his words here but I cant forget the music which is still playing in my head. Today, I went for a concert of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, at the Vice Regal Lodge, Delhi University, organized by SPICMACAY. The concert started at 6 pm with Ust Amjad Ali Khan giving a few thoughts about swar and explaing the audience the difference between the Indian n Western music. He started off then with Raag Ganesh Kalyan. This raag was formed, as he fondly remembered, using a tune he was humming one day. He first sang the tune n then played the raag. The audience comprised of people from all ages, both Indians and foreigners. The Vice Regal Lodge lent an air of Victorian era to the ambience. The sound system and acoustics of the venue were good. The raag had many moments where the audience burst into clapping applauding the artists. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was accompanied by Mithilesh Kumar Jha and Fateh Chand, both on the tabla.
The second raag of the evening was Raag Durga which is also known as Pahadi and is based on the folk songs of Himachal Pradesh. Between the raags he took a break and explained the audience why he needs to file his nails during a performance. The sarod strings are strung on a board made of stainless steel and does not have frets like the sitar or the guitar, much like the violin. He explained that the violin was played using finger tips and then demonstrated how the sarod would sound if played by the finger tips instead of nails.
Raag Durga was a very melodious with the distinct folk feel to it. In between he also indulged in a jugalbandi with the tabla artists who were equally talented. His histrionics left the audience in splits when he deliberately missed a note or two to which the tabla players had already committed.
From where I was sitting I had a very good view of Ustadji and it was a delight, not only to hear the music, but to watch him play as well. The movements of his head which matched the tempo of the music, the encouraging glances to the other artists and the little bits of info he gave about music.
The evening ended with a bhajan - ‘Vaishnav Jan’ which was played beautifully .. as if the sarod was speaking the words. Towards the end he also played ‘Raghupati Raghav’. I think I enjoyed this part of the performance the most. The songs were known and hence I could relate to them more easily as compared to the earlier ragas.
With thunderous applause the concert came to an end. The evening totally rocked. The event was dedicated to Ustad Bismillah Khan.