Hindustani instrumentalists often teach their disciples the intricacies of raag grammar by singing phrases and compositions and not necessarily by using their instruments as their medium of instruction.
One of the chief reasons for this is to enculturate disciples into the practice of mirroring through their instrument embellishments that are used in the gayaki or vocal style. This is not to say that instrumental technique is not taught. It is, but the effort is primarily focused on harnessing instrumental technique to heighten the gayaki aspect. I am not suggesting that the influence has only been a one-way street, for instrumental music has also impacted vocal styles.
However, for this week’s episode, the second one in our series covering the multidimensional artistry of some musicians, we will listen to a vocalist’s instrumental renditions. These tracks feature the Kirana gharana maestro Abdul Karim Khan, who recorded his rudra veena performances on 78 rpm discs in the 1930s along with other discs of his vocal music. Abdul Karim Khan was also known to be an equally accomplished sarangi player, but unfortunately, his sarangi recitals have not been recorded.
We begin with a vocal performance by the maestro. He sings a composition in the raag Darbari Kanada. It is set to a medium-paced Teentaal, a cycle of 16 matras or time-units.
The second track has the maestro’s rendition of an aalaap or unaccompanied introductory movement in the same raag on the rudra veena.
On the next track, Abdul Karim Khan sings a composition in the raag Pilu.
We end with an instrumental interpretation of the same raag through the maestro’s veena recital.