Unquestionably brilliant and charismatic, Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi was born on 4th February 1922, in the small town of Gadag, Karnataka. Deeply influenced by the recordings of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan that he heard in the local record store, Panditji ran away from home in order to pursue his musical studies. Later after he was brought back, Panditji began his tutelage under Sawai Gandharva (Pandit Rambhau Kundgolkar), a great master of the Kirana Gharana, who himself as a pupil of Abdul Karim Khan for 10 to 12 years. Relentless and vigorous, this training added a lustre and brilliance to his naturally tuneful voice that has dazzled the entire world for decades now.
The legacy of his Guru’s rich and rare musical treasures and Panditji’s constant quest for newer domains has helped him develop his own distinctive style, excelling in gamakar, meend and tanakriya and adopting interesting characteristics from other gharanas. A style that without losing the sensitivity to the mood and nuances of a particular musical piece, intersperses it with rapid Taans that glide through all the three Saptaks, sending the listeners into raptures.
Blessed with an amazing understanding of the soul of the Swara and Raga, and developing mastery not only over the khayal idiom but also over Thumri, he remains at the zenith as one of the most popular and dedicated artistes in the realm of Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet. He earned his first platinum disc in 1986. He has been honoured with the Padma Shree in 1972, the Sangeet Natak Academy award in 1976 and the Padma Bhushan in 1985. For years, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi led the renaissance of Indian classical music with passion and utmost dedication. Despite changing times, he has steadfastly adhered to khayal-gayaki, even while striving to strike a balance between the yesterday and today.
The unsung series is yet another exemplary presentation of the magnificence of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s abundant devotion to the subject. It is a manifestation of the great inherent spirit that he has exhibited throughout his life. Each a masterpiece in itself, the unsung series is a collection of ragas and some raga-bound compositions that he has never recorded before. His boundless creativity, and his total being soar to infinite heights of fulfilment as he unleashes his talent in these recordings, filling everything with a sense of oneness with the elusive ultimate peak of Naad Brahma – the quintessential state of bliss for which every musician strives.
Raga Shuddha Sarang
Interestingly, the great classical scholar Pandit Bhatkhande writes that Raga Shuddha Sarang was performed by only a few musicians at the beginning of this century. In contemporary music practice, however, this early afternoon raga has become part of the repertoire of virtually every artist. This is largely due to its beautiful melodic structure which accords it great popularity amongst listeners.
‘Re’ – the vaadi swara and ‘Pa’ – the samvaadi swara are usally described as strong notes in this raga, while ‘Ni’ is an important note on which phrases can begin or end. The absence of ‘Ga’ makes Shuddha Sarang distinct from Rag Shyan kalian, whereas the presence of ‘Dha’ and sharp ‘Ma’ gives it a very different flavour from other Sarang ragas.
As befits an afternoon raga, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi invests a true of sense of warmth in this exposition of Shuddha Sarang. This is the first time he has sung it in his long and illustrious career spanning nearly sixty years, the traditional bandish in Vilambit-Sundar Kanchan Barse, is conducive to elucidating the inner emotion entwined in this melody, which Panditji does, ever so masterfully. The succeeding composition in Drut, the ever popular Ab Mori baat, composed by the great doyen of the Agra Gharana, Ustad Faiyaz Khan Saheb is further embellished by Panditji’s mastery.
Raga Marwa, usually performed at sunset or twilight is a slow, sombre raga expressing the feelings of anxiety and expectation. It is usually considered a difficult raga to perform.
Since ‘Pa’ is omitted, many musicians tune the first string of the tanpura to either ‘Ni’ or ‘Dha’. Ragas Puriya and Sohini have the same tone material. If ‘Ga’ or ‘Ni’ receives too much emphasis in Marwa, it would immediately create an impression of Puriya. It is important therefore to stress on ‘Re’ – the vaadi swara (the note most frequently used) and ‘Dha’ – the samvaadi swara (the second frequently used note) in this raga.
The composition Guru Bin Gyan is a composition of Ustad Amir Khan Saheb – an artiste especially revered by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. The majestic and tranquil melody that is Marwa was one of Amir Khan Saheb’s siddha ragas – he had a divine mastery over this raga and this particular composition of his is very popular amongst aficionados.
The late evening melody is also one of Panditji’s favourite ragas. Here he pays a fitting tribute to a great musician whose music had a profound impact on his career, embellishing the composition with a rare pathos and urgency.
|1||Thumri Based On Raga Tilang||“Tum Kahe Ko Neha Lagaye”|
|2||Thumri Based On Raga Mishra Khamaj||“Dekha Bina Nahi Chain”|
|3||Thumri Based On Raga Kafi||“Bavre Dum De Gayo”|