Filigree of Rhythm: Ustad Ahmad Jan Thirakwa Pandit Kishan Maharaj (Volume - I) (With Booklet Inside) (DVD)

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Ustad Ahmad Jan Thirakwa and Pandit Kishan MaharajDoordarshan Archives (2010)
From The DVD
Artists : Ustad Ahmad Jan Thirakva and Pandit Kishan Maharaj
Catalogue No : TAB/10/01D
Format: DVD

About the Artist

Pandit Kishan Maharaj
The first and the only recipient of the Padma Vibhushan among Tabla Maestros, Pandit Kishan Maharaj was a representative of the Banaras Baaj. After learning from the founder of the Banaras Baaj Pandit Ram sahayji, five of his disciples developed five different styles of the Tobla, each with its own speciality. But today, the particular style of Tabta playing which is popularly known as Banaras Baaj, owes its name to Pandit Kishan Maharaj.

In this recording, Pandit Kishan Maharajji appears in three age-phases of his life. It commences with a recording in his chamber bearing a colossal idol of Lord Ganesh playing the Mridang, Maharajji recites the noted Stuti Paran Ganaanaam Ganpati Ganesh Lambodar Sohe while paying obeisance to the Lord.

Following which is his rendition. Maharajji in his second stage looks so attractive in this picture, just like a young film actor, that many young labia players wilt not be able to even recognise him. Unlike other Tabla players, Maharajji is sitting in Veer Aasan and has played an Uthan which is followed by a brief Baant and then a Chalan. After that, he has established a Rela of Dhirdhirkittak, playing a few compositions of the Khula Ang.

After about 8 minutes of this recording, an aged Kishan Maharaj surfaces.- Long silver hair, an extremely large frame, wearing a Nevratna Maala accompanied by Mannu Lal Mishra on the Harmonium. Avoiding the Peshkar in the Benaras Baaj, there is a progression in the Theka. This comprises complex crisscrossing of the Daayaan and the Baayaan and prominent is the conservative pure style of the interchange of the Bal. after this, he has played a Chalan of the Eanaras Style intertwined with tiny Tihais which sound very attractive. Maharajji has also played here the famous Rela of Banaras Dhaatirkittitak Dherdher Kititak.

Since this programme was held in front of on audience in on auditorium, Meharajji has rendered the damroo of Shankar, the pitter patter of the rain, lightening and thunder- Bol and Varnas that have a mass appeal. Listening to Parans composed by Mridang Maestro Babu Jodh Singh and Babu Madan Mohanji is a blissful experience.

The composition of Khand jaati (or Kuaadi Laya) is brilliant. The performance concludes with rendition of a Ganesh Stuti. The way Maharaiji has fluently rendered Vornas like Vichitra, Lambodar etc. is indeed praiseworthy.

The next segment is a Teal Vaodya Kachcheri. With Pandit Kishan Maharaj on the Table, Umayaalpuram K. Shivaraman on the Mridangam, G. Harishankar on the Kanjira, E.M. Subramanya on the Ghatam and Srirangam S. Kannan on the Morsing the music is exhilarating. This presentation has a unique tonal beauty which gracefully comes out in various forms of Layas it is indeed a visual as well as on aural treat for the viewer.

Pandit Kishan Maharajji had his own unique style of rendering which is so empty evident irk this DVD. Definitely, for the world of Table, this is a gift worth preserving for posterity.

Ustad Ahmedjaan Thirakwa Anuradha Pal
Ustad Ahmedjaan Thirakwa belongs tot that generation of Tabla players which started gaining respect of the art of playing Tabla. He was also the first Tabla maestro to have been conferred with the president award Padmabhushan watching the maestro (Who Passed away in 1973) perform and hearing his views on the art from is no less than a privileged experience. It is evident from the commentary that at the time this interview recorded Ustad was 90 years old. But to this day his vibrant fingers on the chant, luv, syahi and beyond, plus the Daab and gaans on the Baanya, not only pose a challenge to young Tabla players but also inspire them to become better musicians.

In this recording, there are two interviews on the Maestro. The first has been done by Shri S.S.S. Thakur and the other by Ms. Uma Vasudev. The straight underscoring talk in Ustads impeccable diction is not only attractive but also inspiring. The first recording begins with a small Mukhda which is followed by o talk and a series of recitals. According to Ustad, he had started playing the Tabla at the age of 12 and Thirakwa was the name given to him by his paternal grandfather. In the first conversation Ustad accepts not six, but only two Gharanas of the Tabla; Farakkabad (Farrukhabad) and Dilli. Later he accepts even Ajrada as semi-Gharana. But suddenly quashes Benaras and Punjab schools, which con startle some but also hurt others.

While playing a brood?mouthed Tabla, Ustad refers to the narrow?mouthed Tabla as a tiny box! and says the Tabla can bear influence of the Pakhawaj, but NOT the Nagaada or Tasha. Showing a brief excerpt of the Peshkar, Ustad has played a beautiful ayada, whose Division is of 4, 5, and 6 beats. His style of observing the Poltoos is praiseworthy. In the Rela, Tirkit and Dhin Dhinaagin mnemonic syllables hove been beautifully used. Establishing the second Relo, Ustad has also played a few Tukdas and Parans. Here, the Thaap played by the Maestro is strange, because Thaap is a speciality of Benaras. This recording contains o few melodious Gats also, e.g. Dhakridhan, Dhadhakridhan Ghidnag Dintak. And at the end one likes the use of Kdaan. The Chalan and double Dhirket sound attractive. Just that the difference between a tot and a Tukda as mentioned by Ustad, is different from general and modern classical views.

The second tete?e?tete is with Ms. Uma Vasudev. In this, there is a lot of information about other Gurus like Sher khan, Fowl Khan, Baswa Khan, and Munir khan. Referring to accompanying great musicians, Ustad says that he would attune himself to their art. And this is the quintessence of music. Here, a few compositions from various Gharanas have been presented, e.g. Dillis Dha kridhe Tete Dhaage Tete Kridhe Tete, a Gayada comprising usage of various Layas, Ajaradas well-known ayada Dhinn Dhagina Dha Dhagina, plus compositions from Lucknow and Farrukhabad in full Khula Ang. Under Benaras Baj (explaining which he mentions the flume of Pondit Kanthe Mahraj) a brief Uthana has been presented. Praiseworthy is the attempt to maintain the style of Tit tin tin in the Dhatir Kit Dhaage Tit tin tin kin.

In conclusion, the compositions that Khan Sahab has played, mentioning them as Gats may not go down well with some scholars an Tabla. This recording is an invaluable gift for the world of music especially Tabla enthusiasts.

About the DVD

Origin of Tabla

Tabla is an instrument that has mesmerised the music lovers f or generations by translating abstract rhythmic calculations into enchanting tonal sequences, by providing the backbone to dance concerts and taking vocal music to a different level of aesthetic experience. But nothing concrete has been established about its origin and discovery till dote.

A wider section of the music world believes that Hazarat Amir Khusro (1253 to 1325) the court poet of Allauddin Khilzi and a disciple of Hajrat Nizamuddin Aulia invented the Tabla In his book written in Farsi language, mir Khusro has mentioned on instrument named Tabla that was being played in the kings court but he has not claimed to have invented it. Although he has been credited with composing some Tals such as Usoof?a?Fathta (Soolfathta or Soolthal) and Farodast that were originally played on Pakhavaj but the fact that he is the inventor of Tabla is not true. Renowned music scholar Thakur Jaidev Singh has also mentioned the same in his book. ?This so called story that Amir Khusra had invented Tabla is nothing but a fabricated depiction. Amir Khusro just used this word Tabla which was a generic term far a sound instrument. In Farsi language Pakhavaj, Duf and Dundubhi etc. all percussion instruments were called as Tabla?.

Acharya Brihaspati, in his book Sangeet Chintamoni makes a reference to Hazrat Amir Khusro ka lime Mausiki our Dusare Makalat from the Urdu book of janab Rashid Mallik, He says We hove authentic depiction that culture of playing Tabla originated from the beginning of 11th century. Tabla was used in India, many years before the birth of Hazart Amir Khusro. Therefore the name of Amir Khurso cannot be connected to the invention of Tabla. We only know that Tabla is a ward of Farsi language but we have not found any mention of musical instrument of such name up to the period of lost Mughal emperor i.e. 1790. Brihaspati is trying to explain that there is no connection between the instrument and the name. There was an instrument like tabla which was played much earlier than Khusro but was not called Tabla.

Many people believe that Tabla was invented in 18th century. But there is one picture available in Indian Museum, Kolkata having depiction of tabla in 17th century. This picture shows a function at Antahpur (residence of queens), of Darashikoha in which a woman is seen playing Tabla tied to her bock which was the practice till the first half of 20th century. This picture gives evidence that Tabla existed prior to the period of Rangila regime. It might be possible that it did not have a respectable and forefront position or it might have been known by some other name. It is also possible that Amir Khusra might have improved its structure and made it a popular musical instrument. Because Rahman Khan, the father of Amir Khurso was o perfect Pakhawoj player, musician and a composer, this possibility is acceptable.

There also seems to be a confusion related to the name Amir Khusro and its link with Tabla. Many historians of music who named Amir Khusro as the inventor of Tabla are not totally wrong. But they confused one Amir Khusro with the other Amir Khusro khan Pathawaji of 18 century was the founder of Delhi Gharana and not the Sufi poet Hozarat Amir Khusro of 13th century Amir Khusra Khan was the son of famous Pakhawaji ( is it path or pakh ) of Punjab, Rahoman (hon Dhadhi and therefore he had a good knowledge of Pakhawaj. Later on Amir Khusro khan also learnt ?Khayal Gayan? from his brother Sadarang and made significant contributions to the ort of Tabla playing for which he was reworded with the title of Ustad Sudhar Khon in 1738. There are many other artistes who were known by their title name and not their ?original one. Nayak Baijanth is known as Baiju Bawara, Kripa Pathawaji as Mridang Rai, Khushhal khan as.

How Tabla Acquired Its Present form
While talking about the origin of percussion instruments, a story is mentioned in Bharata?s ?Natya Shastra. One day Swoti Rishi went to the bank of Pushkar Sarovar. It started drizzling. The drops of rain falling into the Sarovar were creating different kinds of sounds which inspired the Rishi to invent a unique instrument which was divided into different pieces. One part was in a standing posture and therefore was coiled ?Urdhwak?. The second part was interlocked with the first part and therefore called ?Alingya?. The third part was cylindrical and was played while keeping in the lap, therefore called ?Aankik?. The group of these three musical instruments created out of that inspiration was called Pushkartrai or Tripushkar. In that era it was a tradition to call any percussion instrument ?Mridang? which was made from mud because mud is also called ?mritika?. This does not mean that Tabla has its origins in the present day Mridang or Pakhawaj. The words such as ?Panav, Durdur, Muraj, Mridang and Tripushkar? are used as synonyms for the same instrument and have been mentioned in Bharatas Natya Sashra.

In the musical instrument world, the addition of Pushkar (or Tripushkar) was a revolution. There was no tradition of mixing musical instruments of different swaras as the sounds and reverberations created by them were almost the same because the instrument was beaten by the tail of some animal or a wooden rod. In Pushkar, an attempt was made far the first time to reduce or increase the swar by applying the liniment of black soil taken from the river bank by applying it an ?Urdhwak? and its left part Aalingya?. These were also called Savyak and Vamak. The black soil paste was further modified in the form of ?Syahi? the black paste.

Playing it with fingers was another great feature of Pushkar that developed the possibilities and number of reverberations. Acording to Sharata, Tripushkar was the only instrument having ?Swar?, ?Prahar?, ?Akshar? and ?Marjna?. Therefore Bharat kept Tripushkar as the main instrument and others as side instruments. Divided into 4 faces and three parts, this instrument remained popular for sometime but because of its size and the difficulty in transportation, its popularity declined by the time of Sarangdevs era and it became almost unproductive.

The tradition of playing Tripushkar can be dated from 2 BC to 9th century. Evidence says that 9th century onwards, out of the three, twa parts i.e. ?Urdhwak and aalingya were being played by one and Aankik by another artist.

There are few pictures in which all the three parts of this instruments are being played by one artist. But in portraits of the period from 14th century onwards pictures of Urdhwak? and Aalingyo ore not found. Only the pictures of Aankik are available which later came to be known as Mridang and Pakhawaj in the modern era.

This is further explained by Dr. Lalnmani Mishra in his famous book ?Bhartiya Sangeet Vadya?. The shape of Tripuskar changed in 7th century. The Urdhuak and Aalingya were dropped and Aankik? which was played, by keeping in the lap remained in existence, It was associated with the famous genre of music called Dhruupad. Later on it became popular as Mridang or Moora] therefore, what we call Mridang or Pakhawaj in north India and Mridangam in south India is only one part of Mridang of Sharotas era. On the other hand labia or ?Tabla has been described as a percussion instrument in the 14th century. Join Jcharya Sudhakalash Vachanacharya had made a reference in his book ?Sangeetopanishatsaroudhar? about dhol, tabal, duff (dagga), tamki and doundi - played primarily by Muslims while they walked.

When the pictures of Urdhvak and Aalingya were disappearing almost at the same time the percussion instruments like tabl or tabal came into existence. Urdhwak and Alingyo ports of Pushkar (with certain modifications) crossed aver from the classical music to folk and popular music. Therefore, no reference of tabla is found in many contemporary books of classical music. According to a noted musicologist, tabla was in existence in India from the ancient era in its unmodified shape. Till 18th century, neither did it get the shape of present ?tabla nor was it in the tradition. This was the reason why no description was found till the era of Mohammed Shah Rangile. In the era of Bharata it was known as Tripushkar, but being made of mud and due to its size and transportation had become difficult, therefore it lost its popularity till the time of Sharangdev (13th Century). In 14th Century, it was adopted by musicians of lower class but today it is a popular instrument which is in demand in classical, semi classical, light, folk and film music. By first half of 20th century Urdhavak and Alingaya i.e. right and left instrument were known as Tabal and Tabla. Sambals also played instruments tied on their back. Therefore tabla was associated with folk music. Several tools such as Dadra, Kaharwa, Pasta, Khemta, Deepchandi and Dhumali etc. which were originally from folk music were played on Tabla.

Etymology of the word Tabla
According to Dr. jafre, the head of Oriental Department of Columbia University, the word Tabla or Tabul is not originally from Arabi Language, but a Latin word Tabula which means slippery, rectangular and straight. Tabl or tabal in Turki and Farsi languages were used far the articles which were rectangular and flat and smooth on the top. In Arabi language table was used for table or tray with legs, middle part of tap of which was flat, smooth and rectangular. In Muslim countries, small boxes and wickerwork basket Pitara etc were called tabl. In fact, the ward tabl was used f or any musical instrument or any other object with flat and smooth tap. According to Thakur jaidev Singh tabla is the derivative of the Farsi word tabl which means flat or smooth portion. English word table is also derived from tabl.

There is a possibility that it would have been difficult f or Muslims to pronounce Urdhvak and Aingya and hence tabla would have been chosen as an alternative by Muslim artists. Prof. Rangnath Mishra says that tabal is a pure Sanskrit language word which was used in Yajurvedo Veda as a generic term.

Tabla has undergone several stages of innovations aver centuries and has tremendously evolved as an instrument. With a distinct identity, language, range and versatility Tabla occupies a unique place as a solo instrument in the wand of music. It also plays a major role as on accompanying instrument f or dance and music recitals.


1. Introduction of Ustad Thirakwa
2. Interview and Demonstration - I
3. Interview and Demonstration - II
4. Introduction of Pandit Kishan Maharaj
5. Teen Taal - I
6. Teen Taal - II
7. Taal Vaadya Vrinda

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