Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & VK

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Jhaptal
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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by Jhaptal » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:58 am

Raviji pulled me in, Nikhilda kept my attention.

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by cabernethy » Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:35 am

I can't speak with any deep feelings with regard to Pandit Ravi Shankar. Whilst I credit him with being a great master and have a lot to thank him for my ICM 'bedding in' as it were, I listen to him very little these days (although I am going to see him live in London).

Now, the difference between Ustad Vilayat Khan and Pandit Nikhil Banerjee for me anyway, has always been quite fundamental.

UVK speaks to me of intellectual pursuits whereas PNB talks about humanity. UVK shows me the heights that we could reach and PNB reminds me of the (sad) truth of where we actually are.

Carl

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by drutgat » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:42 am

I know that I'm coming to the discussion late, but I feel that this is an important thread, and one that others new to HCM could refer to in the future, so I wanted to say a few words.

In response to neufeld's original post, I think that one of the main stylistic differences between RS, NB, and VK is a very simple one - that of the sound of their sitars.

The most obvious ways in which the sitars are different is in the sound - RS has a fully 'open jawari', meaning that the way that the 'bridge' is prepared to interact with the strings causes a very 'buzzy' sound; NB's jawari is 'half open', and therefore less 'buzzy', and VK's jawari is closed.

One of the other stylistic differences on the gharana level is that most of the time, RS and NB (coming from the Senia Beenkar gharana/'school' of their guru Ustad 'Baba' Allaudin Khan) were accompanied by the drone of the tampura, whereas much of the time the tampura is absent from VK's performances.

Another basic difference between the VK's Etawah Imdadkhani gharana and the Senia Beenkar (Maihar) gharana is the mode of stringing and tuning the strings. I won't go into this here, as it is covered in much more detail elsewhere, but the mode of stringing does, I think, reflect the 'aim' of the particular gharanas - i.e., by de-emphasizing the 'bass' strings, VK and the other Etawah Imdadkhani sitar players felt that they could more easily approximate the gayaki ang ('singing style') that this gharana favours, and that is mentioned earlier in this thread.

On the other hand, the emphasis that the Maihar gharana puts on using the full range of strings, and having an expanded tonal range in comparison to the EI gharana (with exploration of the bass range of the sitar being important in the alap) reflects the importance of the stately, majestic dhrupad ang leanings of this gharana.

Other differences are apparent in the use of meendh, and other musical techniques (some of which are exclusive to either one of these two gharanas).

I have to say that while I respect NB immensley, and regard him as one of the three titans of sitar playing in the second half of the Twentieth Century, I have never been able to fully love him (and I have virtually all of his music). Mind you, I felt the same way about VK for a number of years, but now I adore him as well as respecting his musical abilities.

I think that one way to appreciate the stylistic difference of various musicians and/or gharanas is to spend time identifying players who are similar to each other or who have similar musical preoccupations or 'values'. This is relatively easy in contemporary HCM because most sitar players come from either one of the Etawah Imdadkhani or Maihar traditions (most - not all: please don't flame me here because I can think of many exceptions, too).

Repeated listening to musicians from these two gharanas will help one to clearly hear the stylistic differences between the two.

But that shouldn't preclude listening to other sitarists, too. Manilal Nag is someone who consistently stands out for me as having his own style, within the context of his Vishnupur (?) gharana, and Debu Chaudhuri is always fascinating and satisfying for me to listen to.

Neufeld, how is the sitar playing coming along?

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by nicneufeld » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:48 pm

Funny to see this thread of my past bumped up again!
drutgat wrote: Repeated listening to musicians from these two gharanas will help one to clearly hear the stylistic differences between the two.
Agreed! The amount of ICM I have absorbed in the past 6 months or so has certainly helped along those lines. I think of PRS quite a bit in terms of the aforementioned "dance background" theory, which aligns nicely with his very rhythmic style (which also probably evolved from the quicker decay of his open jawari). Another player I've been listening a lot to is Ust. Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan. And of course, Nikhilda and the various Giants of Etawah! One of my favorite parts of an etawah style performance is those never ending meends, where the decay (as the artist still pulls the string to various notes) eventually goes to a high harmonic. Not something you can easily do with an open jawari!
Neufeld, how is the sitar playing coming along?
Not too terribly! Just last night I was able to play in a sort of mixed music night at a church...variety of classical music, and I did a brief alap, and then a small composition in Yaman with a gifted local tabla artist. Parts of the composition were unashamedly cribbed from what I've listened to (a line from Ravijis YamanKalyan sitar concerto, a misapplied and tonic-shifted Hemant gat from Nikhilda, and an interesting little run from Jaffer Khan that I didn't realize I stole until after the fact!). So I'm learning, and loving the instrument more than I have any of my previous Western instruments.

I will say, hearing a well-mic'd sitar...a nice omnidirectional pointed at the soundboard, then filling the room (with natural reverb bouncing back), the sound guys made it sound fantastic! I'm really glad I didn't use the soundboard transducer.

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by drutgat » Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:38 pm

Hi nicneufeld (apologies for spelling your user name wrongly in my previous message),
Thanks very much for the reply and update.

It sounds like you have progressed in leaps and bounds with your playing. I myself never really reached that standard of being able to play in public (I don't play much sitar now, although HCM is a huge part of my life - I stick to guitar, and have recently started to play piano, and occasionally perform).

I very much like Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, too. And in many ways I think that it is healthy that he eschews a gharana allegiance.

I used to listen to Budhaditya Mukherjee and Rais Khan a lot, too, and would say that, along with Manilal Nag, Shahid Parvez, Debu Chaudhuri that contemporary sitar playing is in good shape. I consider people like Shujaat Khan to be a rung 'lower' in terms of performance and imagination in comparison to the others I have just mentioned, although Shujaat-ji has improved tremendously over the last 5 years or so, and he is always very honourable and generous towards others whom he mentions at his concerts.

It is interesting to me that, although I am more attracted to the Marihar gharana baj, that gharana seems to have fewer sitarists who are currently of a very high standard - I suppose another way of putting this would be to say that there are many Maihar gharana sitarists whom I like, but want to love.

Thanks, once again, for your update.

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by nicneufeld » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:33 pm

drutgat wrote:I myself never really reached that standard of being able to play in public
Let me clarify, that there is playing in public, and there is playing in public! Meaning, different types of venues and audiences have different standards. I'm a long, long ways away from being comfortable playing to a more educated, or traditional Indian audience. I was persuaded to play as an element of this concert more with the understanding that they are just showing different musicians (of various levels, including younger students) playing in different styles, so the audience was (aside from being generally ignorant of ICM) very friendly and warmly receiving of it. I may have the heart of a teacher because had I had the time (and the interest of the audience) there is so much foundational knowledge I would've like to explain for them to more deeply enjoy the music. But at least no one caught me when I broke the Yaman rules from time to time...yes, I'm sure a Sa Re Ga snuck in there!!! :shock:

I see your point about the Maihar vs Etawah...perhaps the Etawah masters have just had a more traditionally strong teaching tradition, because it does seem there are a lot of young masters in that side. When I think of Maihar, I think of the masters, most of whom are no longer with us. I just don't know enough about their disciples. But I definitely lean towards that style mainly because I love the lower strings...the only way to lure me to Etawah is to get me behind a surbahar...something maybe I'll get to someday! I'm in Missouri, and hoping to meet Ustad Imrat Khan someday, who surprisingly lives here.

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by plectum » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:30 am

I always felt that the fundamental difference between maihar and etawah is that the former is based on rudraveena baaj, whereas the later is based on khayal vocalism. Everything about maihar sitar , the largely ornamental upper gourd, the two heavy brass strings, intricate designs on the tabli, all tend to remind me of a rudraveena. On the other hand, the more I listen to UVK, the more I notice how heavily ornamented his style of playing was. Almost no swar is used directly, there always seems to be a grace or such from the neighboring swars. The different vocal ornamentations, he could successfully emulate on his sitar also. I personally feel that the style of Etawah alap has come from the bada khayals. Even the pauses they take to increase anticipation, has it come from the pauses that vocalists take for a breather? But of course, they use those pauses very thoughtfully to increase the appeal of their music.

On the other hand, true to their senia lineage, maihar people use straight meends long and short, both. I do not seem to find the same degree of ornamentation in their playing which may be a result of this being based largely on rudraveena baaj. To compensate they have increased the amount of right hand work. The use of bols and rhythm is much more pronounced.

Between NB and PRS, I always felt that the former was of a very conservative temperament while the latter is more willing to experiment. Pandit Ravishankar seems to have more of a music composer's brain. He did have a quite successful foray into film music world. Also he brought many Carnatic raags into hindustani domain, and recorded beautiful renderings of new raags. I really love his charukeshi and asa bhairab. Nikhil-da never seemed to be interested in these forays.

My 2 saints :D
You know, music, art - these are not just little decorations to make life prettier. They're very deep necessities which people cannot live without. ~~ Pablo Picasso

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by nicneufeld » Thu Jul 28, 2011 3:02 pm

Thanks plectum, the rudraveena vs. vocal breakdown is a nice way to look at it.

To throw an additional wrinkle in...since I started this thread long, long ago, I've branched my listening out and some of the other sitarist I've started listening to that don't fit easily into the Big Two gharanas include Balaram Pathak and Ust. Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan. I can definitely hear unique attributes (both use interesting techniques like harmonics, and sometimes simple harmony or chords) but are there other key attributes I'm overlooking? UAHJK, to acronymize a very long name, is one of my favorites and he seems to have an aggressively experimental feel to his playing in a way that reminds me of Pt. Ravi Shankar. Similar sort of "wildness" about it. Whereas when I think of Ust. Imrat Khan and Nikhil-da, I think of more serene, introspective recordings. And Ust. Vilayat Khan's music always has a lofty, proud confidence to it, but that impression may have more to do with my favorite recording of his, Darbari Kanada, which is a fairly austere, noble raga. Or just what I've read about his character! :D

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by plectum » Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:51 pm

nicneufeld wrote: To throw an additional wrinkle in...since I started this thread long, long ago, I've branched my listening out and some of the other sitarist I've started listening to that don't fit easily into the Big Two gharanas include Balaram Pathak and Ust. Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan. :D
At the start of the last century there were many sitar gharanas, Deepak Raja lists 9 gharanas, so there is a lot of sitar music we miss. I think you will like Mustaq Khan also. Some of his recordings are available in the net.
nicneufeld wrote:And Ust. Vilayat Khan's music always has a lofty, proud confidence to it, but that impression may have more to do with my favorite recording of his, Darbari Kanada, which is a fairly austere, noble raga. Or just what I've read about his character! :D
A regal raag like darbari suited his personality the most, but there were also other raags like yaman where he painted a cheerful attitude, or purvi where there was much more pathos and longing. Actually he had to, otherwise if there was not much variety in his music, he would not have gotten the respect he did. He entered a tough market, when the era of the great vocalists was still going on, there was fierce competition from other talented instrumentalists, and above all there was a core of very well-informed listeners. I mean, if he would have touted his style as "gayaki ang" merely as an advertisement, they would have taken him for a guided tour to oblivion.
You know, music, art - these are not just little decorations to make life prettier. They're very deep necessities which people cannot live without. ~~ Pablo Picasso

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by plectum » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:00 pm

Just cannot let go of this interesting thread. :)

So how did the style of NB and PRS differ? I was listening to Mand by NB the other day. Most people play Mand as a dhun, not NB however. From the very first stroke he adopts a slow tempo, and he stays on each note long enough. A slow gait of movement, slow pronounced meends, and sufficient pause on each note, brings Mand the closest it can to being a full-fledged raag.

Then I listened to PRS’s kafi. He adopts a faster tempo, and shoots back and forth between the notes much faster. In the end you have a folk-tuney experience.

And finally, which one I liked more? I loved both. :D
You know, music, art - these are not just little decorations to make life prettier. They're very deep necessities which people cannot live without. ~~ Pablo Picasso

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by nicneufeld » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:28 pm

My listening of NB isn't as much as I have listened to PRS, but how you describe it is how I view them. Raviji is a quick burning fuse, Nikhilda a slow burning candle. Case in point are some of the recordings of a raag exposition by NB (Hemant comes to mind, Amsterdam 1970) that take over an hour. He takes his time and slowly builds it. PRS is much more "ADD" with his playing, flitting here and there, always adding new little runs or melodic ideas, never sticking to one melodic idea patiently for a great period of time...never seemingly playing raags over 30 minutes, even! PRS plays with excitement, fire, and innovation to me and NB exudes meditative devotion, depth, and peace. I made the point in another thread that I see the dynamic of these two reflected in the sons of Inayat Khan; Ust. Vilayat Khan having the power and fire, but a certain extra beauty and peace in the alaps of his younger brother Ust. Imrat Khan.

Broad generalizations, but a useful metric for me when deciding who to listen to to suit my moods! They are all, being masters of sitar, fully capable of the extremes of fiery fast playing and beautiful meditative alaap, I'm just saying the personality of each performer seems to express itself in a certain particular strength.

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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by Kirya » Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:35 am

It is really hard to define each of these masters in an all encapsulating set of phrases and keywords -- especially since what they do does not involve words.

One way to perhaps get a reasonable contrast is to take their interpretations of the same Raga so you can get a sense of how they are the same and also different.

However I also find that some Ragas just have more affinity with certain players like Darbari with UVK even though both NB and PRS have great versions.

e.g.

Raag Bhimpalasi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naSJnRk48ec NB Bhimpalasi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMRxDY43YtQ PRS Bhimpalasi

USP http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qph5v0fvsTw (standing in for UVK)


Or Raag Piloo

UVK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMgljV_s ... 80CF4564FB and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59HK6R2Ig3g

PRS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXXBfL5lRqE

NB http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9iakuzaI-4 Music starts at 4:20 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvK4gwmGZFI

and USP http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdzIKfBMInk
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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by Kirya » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:09 am

Raag Malkauns

NB http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldfk_2yk7AA

PRS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8nRps5RbSE

UVK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqF93Z1dglU

Or you can also see this with Raag Yaman (Yaman Kalyan) as I could not find a straight Yaman from all three of them so this is not a great comparison as the performances are also very uneven.

UVK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKwhtyQBquk Great old master recording and drut http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8-nKlJzw_Q

PRS -- This is actually Yamani Manj http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNUF_7qA7gY and Yaman Kalyan (not great sound) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj8zhJak ... B6F5594D79

NB - Yaman Kalyan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aqrcLquK1E
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Re: Distilling the style differences: Shankar, Banerjee, & V

Post by Kirya » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:36 am

There are also some interviews where they speak for themselves

PRS There are many others but this is a good one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz9wyQmG ... re=related

An All India Radio Films Division presentation on Pt Ravi Shankar. Featuring portions of live performances as well as him speaking about his music as well as his approach to both tradition and innovation - that is also quite interesting with very interesting musical segueways

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtq1xqTp ... re=related (Part 1) This has a lot of material in Hindi in first 4 minutes. He later also addresses the accusations that he was selling out to the west.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSGif1k3 ... re=related (Part 2) He makes an attempt to describe "sadhana" which is a key concept in terms of inner attitude regarding this music in the second one.



RS: The Man & His Music
From an excellent French production. It shows the Pandit's school he was building in Varanasi only to have to sell it later & move to Delhi. It was called Himangana after his beloved mother, Himangani.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t64w7b6Z ... re=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0JMge8u ... re=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsbxYQkE ... re=related


Remembering the legend UVK (mostly in Urdu)

Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c86DLKSq ... re=related (Detailed Footage on Darbari alap)
Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ACS-_I_ ... MuetrAKOlI
Part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIZyGnWM ... re=related (detailed footage on Bhairavi)
He says at the end of this that whatever faults you may have seen in me, those are mine alone and I ask for your forgiveness for them.

And this is a long conversation / interview but is mostly in Urdu (you will need at least a bit of Hindi to understand)
In conversation with sitar legend Ustad Vilayat Khan at his home in Princeton, N.J. –
• Wonderful description of how he and Kanai Lal modified the design of the sitar and he also asks/pleads that don’t mess the classical music up when you search for new stuff
• Talks about the old music culture and community about how they forgot to eat and fed on music
• Also he is not very big on fusion music and says clearly that fusion = confusion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8wncWmM ... re=related

A wonderful interview with Vilayat Khan in English on BBC

You can see that he is not comfortable in English and it is a stark contrast to his eloquent and easy Urdu/Hindi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9twgLWlMEV8

=======================================================================================

This is the only interview I know of Nikhil Banerjee in his own voice

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ow_4Dg3QEI

and a BBC interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV6Jr4b8NDM
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