I wanted to write this post yesterday night immediately after returning from the concert, as I did on the past two days, but I got caught up in an interesting discussion. More on that in another post, another day, when I can put those thoughts in some kind of coherent order.
Coming back to Virasat, the day’s concert was a Mandolin-Sitar Jugalbandhi, with the artistes being Padmashree U Shrinivas on Mandolin, and Ustad Shahid Pervez Khan on the Sitar. They were accompanied by Tabla and Mrudangam.
The concert started on time at 6:30 PM. They started with Raag Yaman (Raga Kalyani in Carnatic), an evening raga, to the beats of the Teentaal/Aditala. It was a true jugalbandhi from the word go. More than from a perspective of Hindustani style pitted against the Carnatic, I found that this was a contest between the instruments and their players. An acoustic mandolin is incapable of sustaining notes or maintaining slides between the notes, something which is quite a handicap when you’re playing Indian classical music. Hence the electric mandolin, which was modified by U.Srinivas to suit the carnatic style, was the instrument used for the concert. The sitar, on the other hand, is quite adept when it comes to sustaining the note or even dragging it for the required amount of time. The sawaal-jawaabs were on right from the aalaps, where both the players displayed their efficiency in terms of speed and control over the instrument. There were some really amusing musical exchanges, where Ustad Shahid Pervez Khan played the Sitar at times making it sound like an acoustic guitar, and U Srinivas playing an equally amusing reply on the mandolin. Later, as they played the main composition, the tabla and mrudangam provided a good sathi, at times with a combined jugal-bandhi with the mandolin + mrudangam contesting against the sitar + tabla.
The next composition was in Raga Kirwani set to Roopak Taal or Mishra Chapu Tala. Roopak is an interesting Taal, which I learnt during my senior Tabla course. It’s formed of 7 beats with a 3+2+2 combination. It’s probably the only tala where the Sam and Khali coincide. And being a tala with odd number of beats and an asymmetric combination of beats, it’s tricky to keep track of unlike the easy Teen taal (16 beats with a 4+4+4+4 combination) or Dadra (6 beats with a 3+3 combination) or even Ek Taal(12 beats with 2+2+2+2+2+2 combination) for that matter. Since it was challenging, it was really exciting to watch both the performers play various tunes in Kirwani, at times doubling the tempo and ending their segment exactly on the Sam. There was a nice little jugalbandhi between the tabla and the mrudangam too which was really sweet on the ears!
The final composition for the day was in Dadra taal. I am not sure of the Raga, but it was a well known composition, just that my memory fails me to point out which one was it. I think it was “Jaise Radha ne mala japi shyaam ki” in Raag Bhairavi. Nevertheless, Dadra being a playful taal which is usually heard in light music or folk music, set the right “tempo” for the final piece. Again, the performers challenged each other to interesting duels, and I felt that each question was answered with an apt reply.
The concert ended well within time, with 10 minutes to spare. This the first time I am attending a live Sitar concert, and it was wonderful to listen to the instrument which always reminds me of rapidly falling rain. I have heard U Srinivas play some 10 years ago, when he performed at Karkala.
After couple of days of jugalbandhis between the instruments of the same kind, today there will be a interesting jugalbandhi between Vani (voice) and Veena (string)! Pt. Vishwamohan Bhat on Mohan-Veena and repulted Ghazal singer Hariharan (yes, of the colonial cousins fame) will be contesting in an interesting duel later in the evening. Won’t want to miss that for anything in the world 😀