Lilting and meditative
As an internationally acclaimed flautist, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia has played a leading role in popularising Indian music throughout the world. He is regarded as the greatest living master of the Bansuri, the North Indian bamboo flute.
In Indian mythology, the flute is associated with Lord Krishna, whose divine music hypnotised his followers into blind devotion. For nearly half a century Hariprasad has captured the hearts of his audiences, successfully transforming the flute from a marginalized folk instrument into an established part of the Indian Classical music scene. Unlike many other great Indian artists, Pt. Chaurasia does not come from a family of musicians; his father was a distinguished wrestler who actively discouraged musical study. Fortunately, living in Allahabad, a town of great vibrant cultural activity gave him access to India's most eminent musicians. Initially he was attracted towards vocal music, and his early vocal training bears a major influence on his style of flute playing. In his hands, the flute sings out, echoing all the subtle nuances and textures of the voice. His performances are always spontaneous, characterised by a rich soulfulness and vitality. Hariprasad Chaurasia has never been afraid to step outside the immediate circles of his own traditions. His collaborations with Western artists like John McLaughlin and Jan Garbarek have added to his international appeal and widespread popularity. In 1992, he was the first flautist in Indian history to be awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's most prestigious award recognizing excellence in arts. This live performance recorded at Saptak 2001 features music from HariPrasad Chaurasia's semi-classical repertoire. Dhun is a light instrumental music form, which is free from the usual disciplines and structure of classical music. Although the dhun is often based on a specific raga to begin with, the performer is given licence to introduce notes and phrases from other ragas. This particular dhun is based on a traditional Indian folk music theme. It begins with a short alap, which outlines the main phrases of the dhun melody in a free improvised style. For the composition, Hariprasad Chaurasia is joined by two of India's finest percussionists. Bhavani Shankar is a master of the majestic sounding pakhawaj, a large resonant barrel-shaped drum, associated with the ancient Indian vocal music form of dhrupad. Anindo Chatterjee is a brilliant tabla player who is highly regarded for his clear and precise tonal quality and sound production. For the first part of the dhun, the two percussionists play a simple four beat rhythm (keherva), which allows the soloist the space to develop the romantic mood of the piece. A faster composition in sixteen beats (tintaal) acts as a signal for the musicians to demonstrate more elaborate improvised playing, culminating in a 'sawal jawab' (lit. question-answer) sequence in which complex musical phrases are exchanged in a three way game of call and response. The second piece is Hariprasad Chaurasia's rendition of a popular bhajan 'Om Jai Jagdish Hare', a devotional hymn in praise of God.