Last week’s episode looked at information published in The Indian Listener about Hindustani music programmes that were featured on the All India Radio way back in the 1930s. In particular, we took a closer look at transmissions of recorded programmes on the Delhi station of the All India Radio on December 14, 1936. This week, we reimagine some of the music that was broadcast live on the same day and from the same station. The programming for live concerts adhered to the raag-time equation followed in the Hindustani system by broadcasting raags prescribed for particular hours of the day and night.
The All India Radio orchestra played compositions based on Hindustani raags Shukla Bilawal, Gaud Sarang and Puriya Dhanashree. Unfortunately, we do not have recordings of these performances, but here is a link to an episode on the All India Radio orchestra that we had carried earlier: A window into the wonderful world of All India Radio’s special Vadya Vrinda Units
Moving on to solo renditions of vocal music, three vocalists were presented, namely, G.A. Khan of Gwalior, Benazir Bai, and Ashiq Ali Khan of Patiala. While recordings of the first two performers are not available, we do have access to Ashiq Ali Khan’s 78 rpm recordings.
I could not find recordings that contain raags that Ashiq Ali Khan sang for these radio broadcasts, but here are a few that would give listeners an idea of his gayaki or vocal style.
The first one is a drut or fast-paced composition in the raag Basant set to Teentaal, a rhythmic cycle of sixteen matras or time-units.
The next one features a drut composition in the raag Puriya Dhanashree set to the twelve-matra Ektaal.
Information about the instrumental recitals broadcast on the same day does not mention the performers. In fact, the second instrumental recital has a curious description of a nautch gat (possibly referring to an instrumental composition created or used specifically for dance recitals) played on sarod and sitar accompanied by tabla and bells.
We will end today’s episode with a sitar rendition of the raag Bihag in an effort to reimagine the ten-minute sitar recital that was broadcast at 5.50 pm during the third transmission from the Delhi station of the All India Radio on December 14, 1936. This 78 rpm recording features sitar maestro Vilayat Khan. He plays a vilambit or slow-paced gat or instrumental composition in this raag. The gat or instrumental composition is set to Teentaal.