Some compositions lend themselves to varied interpretations across musical categories, or they seem to be most accessible to musicians who wish to involve themselves in performances that are broadly classified as fusion projects. Undoubtedly, the inherent beauty of such compositions draws musicians to them, but it is obvious that the growing popularity of the former seems to be a motivating factor for them to be included in different concert situations.
Kesariya Baalam, a composition that has its origins in the music of Rajasthan, has traversed many a musical landscape. In July, this column featured an exquisite rendition of this composition, but here it is once again before we move on to other interpretations. This is a rendition by Allah Jilai Bai, a well-known exponent of Maand, a song-form from Rajasthan. Notably, Maand is also the name of a raag and this particular composition is based on the same raag and is set to Dadra, a cycle of six matras or time-units.
Another interpretation of the same composition, this time set to the eight-matra Kaherva, is presented by Mame Khan, the popular singer from Rajasthan, and his group. Listeners will note that the traditional instruments are also joined by guitar and keyboard.
Farid Ayaz and Abu Mohammad, noted qawwals from Pakistan, present an interpretation of the same composition during their qawwali recital. They sing the composition in the 14-matra Deepchandi. Using the first line of the composition as a refrain, they include couplets by Amir Khusrau, the Sufi poet, scholar and musician.
The next track is a duet featuring popular slide guitarist Vishwamohan Bhatt and vocalist Anwar Khan Manganiar. Bhatt establishes an uptempo six-matra Khemta (some also refer to this as a faster Dadra) after playing a short aalaap on the guitar that he refers to as Mohan Veena. Anwar Khan joins in with the song Kesariya Balam.