Music conferences organised by music educationists Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande and Vishnu Digambar Paluskar featured not only performances but also included musicological discussions. Music festivals that were organised later seem to have focused on performances and did not necessarily include discussions on various aspects of music-making. However, the Bombay-based Sur Singar Samsad, which annually hosted the Swami Haridas Sammelan several years after the conferences organised by Bhatkhande and Paluskar, also held a seminar from November 11 to 15, 1955.
Writing about the seminar, music critic Mohan Nadkarni wrote, “. . . the seminar brought to the fore a number of significant problems relating to the history and aesthetics of Indian music, and some revelations concerning the State of Indian dance at the present time. Eminent scholars from different parts of the country gathered together at this function, and papers on various aspects of history and theory of music and dance were read and discussed by them, before the invited audience.”
I am not sure if the Samsad continued to hold seminars in succeeding years, but it is certain that most organisers who have been active in the field for the past several decades do not seem to have seen any merit in addressing issues related to the field or in having discussions concerning the theory and aesthetics of music. Even music circles and schools, which mention lectures, demonstrations, and other activities to propagate music as part of their many objectives, have not really done much in this sphere.
Possibly, the absence of glamour at such seminars and the need to turn everything into an “event” that catches eyeballs and attracts maximum footfalls, to put it in contemporary marketing jargon, is perhaps why these institutions have chosen to ignore some self-professed objectives. Consequently, the chasm between scholars and performers has increased over time, and both view each other with suspicion or even contempt. Perhaps, it is time for organisers to revisit their mandate and modify their ideas of presentation.
Returning to our exploration of the Swami Haridas Sammelan held in 1962, we feature the music of two sets of artists in today’s episode. The first set includes Faiyaz Ahmed Khan and Niyaz Ahmed Khan, leading exponents of the Kirana gharana. The brothers sing two compositions in the raag Shuddha Kalyan. The first composition is set to the fourteen-matra vilambit or slow Jhumra taal, and the second is set to drut or to a fast-paced 16-matra Teentaal. This is followed by a thumri in the raag Jhinjhoti set to the 16-matra Jat taal.
The concluding track features sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan. He plays two compositions in the raag Malkauns, the first set to the ten-matra Jhaptaal and the second to Teentaal. He follows this with compositions in the raag Pahadi set to the eight-matra Kaharva and the six-matra Khemta, and a composition in the raag Durga set to Teentaal. He is accompanied on the tabla by Rashid Mustafa.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.