Reviving the forgotten instruments of Indian music – 1
In these columns, Sarod player Joydeep Mukherjee, shares his research on the extinct Indian instruments and explores ways to revive them. Mukherjee’s training in music started in 1987 as a 4-year-old. He is a disciple of Sangeetacharya Pranab Kumar Naha (a direct disciple of Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra) and started to perform from very young age. Gradations from All India Radio & Door Darshan and empanelment from Indian Council for Cultural Relation (ICCR) happened eventually and in 2019 he left his job ( he is also an engineer and did his B.Tech. and MBA (First Class 2nd) from Symbiosis, Pune), he ventured full time into classical music.
The legacy of the Senia Shahjehanpur Gharana carries on with the next generation of its musicians. The wealth of music contributed by Ustad Murad Ali Khan (b. 1810), Ustad Abdullah Khan (1844-1926), Ustad Mohammed Ameer Khan (1877-1934), Pt Radhika Mohan Maitra (1917-1981) and Padma Bhushan Pt. Buddhadeb Dasgupta (1933-2018) has been enormous and has greatly served to enrich this Gharana to one of the finest in instrumental music in India.
- Reviving the forgotten instruments of Indian music – 1
- Reviving the forgotten instruments of Indian music – 2
- Reviving the forgotten instruments of Indian music – 3
- Reviving the forgotten instruments of Indian music – 4
Over the years, this Gharana has contributed many eminent Sarod players. But how many today know that Rabab is the ancestor of the modern day Sarod, which came from Afghanistan during 14th or 15th century AD?
Rabab was a war instrument, the Afghan and Mughal soldiers used to play Rabab while marching towards the war. It became very popular during the 16th century and held its popularity along with Rudra Veena till the end of 18th century. Many “Rabab -aang” baaj are played today in present day Sarod especially in the Senia Shahjehanpur Gharana (of Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra). With the emergence of the Sursingar and Surbahar in the beginning of the nineteenth century, Rabab and Rudra Veena were marginalised, and after the emergence and popularisation of the sarod and sitar in the twentieth century, both the Rabab and Rudra Veena faded into oblivion.
However, apart from the Sarod and Sitar, very few people today knew about the instruments that had been created by the legendary Sarodia Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra during 1940s to 1960s. Apart from Sarod he was equally competent in Sur Shringer (Bass Sarod) which is very rarely heard these days.
I tried to revive Rabab during 2017 but failed as I was not able to produce better sound making it at par with Sarod and Sitar. I guess no one performs Rabab today in India (by performance I mean significant stage performances or in national / international media). I am reviving Sur Shringer for the last one year, hopefully it will be of better sound quality and will be ready by March/April, 2021. We will discuss about the revival process in the later episode.
There are several opinions regarding Sur Shringer’s origin. Some say it was first made by Syed Kalb Ali Khan Bahadur, the Nawab of Rampur. However, the most popular opinion says it was introduced by the descendants of Tansen, Ustad Pyaar Khan, Basant Khan and Jaffer Khan during the early nineteenth century.
This instrument is a combination of three instruments – Mahati Veena, Kacchapi Veena and Rabab. The Rabab players faced difficulty during the monsoon. Due to moist weather the tension of the goat skinned drum reduces leaving very dull sound from the instrument. The problem solved with the invention of Sur Shringer – the tension remained as it is, moreover, long sliding notes added dynamicity in the instrument.
However, with the development and modifications in Sarod and also due to the complex playing style, Sur Shringer lost its popularity mostly during 1940-50s.
– to continue
2 thoughts on “Reviving the forgotten instruments of Indian music – 1”
Thanks Joydeep and globalbihari for this great work, but lots of works to be done. In ancient India there was 108 types of veena , now a days only three or four types of veena exist in India, my best wishes