Pulse of the beat

pt. anindo Chatterjee

pt. anindo Chatterjee  

Anindo Chatterjee on embracing change without sacrificing the traditional style

He is as sprightly as the ‘relas’ that cascades like waterfall at his solo recitals. A well-known exponent of the tabla, Pt. Anindo Chatterjee talks with simplicity and passion about his art.

Having imbibed the best of diverse gharanas such as Farrukhabad, Lucknow and Old Punjab to name a few, from his Guru, the legendary, Pt. Gyan Prakash Ghosh of Kolkata, he shares his thoughts on tradition and tayaari.

Do you think Hindustani percussionists now are more open to experiments?

The style of the old masters was straightjacketed though they had a distinct approach to music. They did full justice to every composition; their tonality and aesthetics were highly evolved. They could perform even the most difficult composition with ease. But listeners have also changed. Laykaari (mathematical improvisation) emerged 20-odd years ago through expert accompanying instrumentalists such as Pt. Kishan Maharaj and Ustad Alla Rakha.

I recently accompanied Shiv Kumar Sharma at a concert in Kolkata, where he worked on complex spontaneous patterns within nine beats. I had to respond accordingly and it was truly exciting.

This santoor stalwart has pioneered immaculate laykaari. However, as many great musicians have said, aesthetics must never be martyred at the altar of mathematics. Since it can make the performance lifeless. Even Shiv Kumar Sharma’s laykaari is within limits.

It is said that your Guru and his Guru Ustad Firoz Khansaheb of Punjab did great work in both Mishrajati (seven beats) and Khandjati (five beats).

In tabla there are two types of renditions, improvised and fixed. I once played the entire teentaal (16 beats) interspersed with jhaptaal (10 against 16), which is unusual. Khandjati is a form of jhaptaal. While there are many compositions in Mishrajati, our masters did not compose much in Khandjati. But both jaatis are most prevalent in the Punjab tradition and to an extent, Benaras. (he recites some rare compositions in both jatis)

Do you think collaborations defile tradition?

That’s a wrong way of thinking. It is refreshing for listeners and I am not against it. I have performed with South Indian musicians such as Karaikudi Mani, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, Palghat Mani Iyer, Lalgudi Jayaraman and Vikku Vinayakram. Our experiments were never judged as ‘fusion’.

I also performed with western artistes, including the famed U.S. drummer Mike Davis. The threat is from those who jam mindlessly by merely putting together different instruments, without establishing any connect among them. Harmony is the key. Listen to Ustad Ali Akbar Khansaheb’s fusion and you will understand what I mean.

How would you describe your Guru’s style of teaching?

His patience, sincerity and sacrifice were inimitable. From seniors to beginners, he knew how to teach each. He would stress on the nikaas (delivery) of each composition and would play recordings to illustrate it. He was a firm but a benevolent teacher and fine human being.

Do you feel lineage plays a vital role in classical music?

It sure does. But there are times when despite being from celebrated families, artistes don’t succeed. It’s the sincerity that matters.

Any memorable anecdotes of old masters?

There is a story about how sarod maestro Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan when asked what kind of support he needed from the Government, requested former President the late Dr. Rajendra Prasad to ensure that raga Darbari be performed throughout the country. That was the greatness and simplicity of these legends!

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 9:23:19 PM |

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