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The Sarod Project: Virtuoso Khans to Tour the U.S.

Since my childhood, I always wanted my instrument, the Sarod to be able to express the entire range of human emotions … to sing, shout, whisper and cry, reminisces Sarod masetro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.

(Above): Ustad Amjad Ali Khan flanked by Amaan (l) and Ayaan (r).


Sept. 6: Amador Theater
Pleasanton, Calif. (sanskriti.org)

Sept. 20: Kirkland Performance Center
Kirkland, Wash. (Kpcenter.org/artists/amjad-ali-khan)

Sept. 27: Peery’s Egyptian Theater
Ogden, Utah (egyptiantheaterogden.com)

Oct. 12: Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, New York, NY (schimmel.pace.edu)

It has been a long journey so far and by the benevolence of the heavens, the Sarod has become far more expressive than it was 25 years ago. Those moments are a profound reminder of the blessing it is to be in the position of loving, and living your life’s work. Without doubt, music is the best way to connect to the supreme power that we have never seen.

The development of Indian classical music should be understood in both spiritual and scientific terms. The earliest version of classical music was the Vedic chants, which date back to the Samaveda period (1700 BCE). Interestingly, the effect of all the twelve notes on our body, mind, and soul are very scientific. If we sing out all the twelve notes with concentration, the human body receives all its positive vibrations.

The first and most important element of Indian classical music is the raga. A raga is made of a set of ascending and descending notes within a certain discipline. A raga has distinctive features with prominent notes, and combinations of notes that correspond to periods of the day and cycles of the season. A raga traditionally opens with a slow elaboration of its notes and movements. This unaccompanied prelude, which is called the alaap serves as an introduction. The alaap is usually followed by the gat, which is a composition accompanied by the tabla. A crescendo, or jhala, is commonly used to conclude the raga. It is a fast rhythmic style of instrumental music characterized by a constant plucking of the drone strings. Various permutations and combinations of the scales give shape to a raga. However, a raga is much more and beyond.

It is hard for an Indian classical musician to mention the Ragas or the Taals (rhythmic cycles) beforehand because the decisions are made very near to the concert date, perhaps on the day of the concert itself!

Since we don’t have a written score, it also has something to do with the accommodation of moods and emotions of an artist on that day.

Like cosmic divinity, music knows few barriers or boundaries. However, often in the race for cultural superiority we pit one order against the other. The effect of this conflict is called fusion music, a rage among the current generation of music-lovers, which sees the world as a global village. I have always admired and enjoyed listening to European classical musicians like Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Russia’s Tchaikovsky. Our renditions are often compared with jazz. This comparison is not entirely misplaced. The message of Indian Classical music is freedom within the discipline.

I never wanted to create two more Amjad Ali Khans, hence I gave both Amaan and Ayaan the freedom to develop their musical minds and tastes in the most natural way and also have their distinctive flavors as artists.


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MUSIC: The Sarod Project
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