The String Theorist
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How Ustad Amjad Ali Khan helped a classical music enthusiast rediscover the divine connection between raga and emotions.
In spite of being a student of Indian classical music for as long as I can remember, I am a little cagey about traditions of the ceremonial salutations (as a mark of deference) — something that comes unpretentiously and spontaneously to those from the world of classical music. I am not against it, but it does not come naturally. But when one attends a concert by sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and has finished gasping, marvelling and saying "aahs" and "wahs" numerous times, it won't be out of place to say that, as his performance reaches a crescendo, one just wants to bow down and do a namaskar to the master of the fretless lute.
But before that, making way to get a glimpse of the 67-year-old, who was in the Capital on Tuesday to perform at the conclusion of the golden jubilee celebrations of India International Centre (IIC), was quite a task. The tiny auditorium was packed to capacity, with mostly women, and many people scowling in the aisles. So we headed to the projector room upstairs to watch an uninterrupted performance, albeit from a distance.
Khan's concerts in Delhi take place at regular intervals. But what makes them stand out are these intense moments of interplay of the sur and the taal, the closeness between great music and the philosophy behind it, which, he says "is freedom within discipline".
Taking off on his sarod, the extremely polite Khan gave a glorious start with a short alap and bandish in Raag Kedar, a complex raga named after Lord Shiva that comes with a non-linear progression, as Rashid Mustafa Khan and Mithilesh Kumar Jha accompanied him on the tabla as they played taal deepchandi.
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