Inayat Ustad Vilayat Khan - Raga Piloo (Audio CD)

Item Code: ICM068
Ustad Vilayat KhanSony BMG (2006)65:19 Minutes
From the CD

Ustad Vilayat Khan
Pays Tribute To his Father and Guru
Ustad Inayat Khan

Ustad Vilayat Khan - Sitar
Vijay Ghate - Tabla
1. Raga Piloo - vilambit gat in teentaal
2. Raga Piloo - three drut gats in teentaal

The Album
This is a rare album in that it is a performance in tribute to his illustrious father and guru, Ustad Inayat Khansaheb. This magnificent rendering of Raga Piloo brings back fresh memories of that incredibly popular and highly regarded bandish (composition) of his father in Raga Piloo. One is left with that tingling feeling of times and an age long past, save for this invaluable continuity provided by Vilayat Khansaheb. He also recalls famous compositions by other musical maestros of that age and helps to make this a treasure for music aficionados and musicologists. Also a unique feature of this album is that it begins without the traditional alap, a speciality of Vilayat Khansaheb. The performance commences with a rhythmic slow tempo composition, followed by further three more in a faster tempo.

This is an extremely rare presentation of Raga Piloo and a very unique album of Ustad Vilayat Khan - a collector’s item, no less! It gives a permanent life to some of the great and rare compositions in Hindustani classical music.

The present recording was made by Ustad Vilayat Khan at Princeton in USA in 2001.

Ustad Vilayat Khan

Ustad Vilayat Khan lived through an age of unprecedented development in the technique and repertoire of the sitar, an age in which the instrument has achieved a world-wide fame and was blessed by several exponents of unquestionable genius. He himself had been responsible for part of that development, contributed much to the popularity of the instrument and was one of its outstanding masters. For this he earned a prominent place in the history of Indian classical music.

Vilayat Khan was born some time between 1924 and 1928 (no one is quite sure), in Gouripur in East Bengal (now Banglaesh), into a family of renowned sitarists. The best known of these are his father Ustad Inayat Khan and grandfather Ustad Imdad Khan, although the family claims a lineage going back several generations earlier. Vilayat Khan’s younger brother Ustad Imrat Khan and nephew Ustad Rais Khan are also well known sitarists, as are several members of the next generation including his son Shujat Khan.

Vilayat Khan began his training under his illustrious father, who sadly died when he was still a child. The young sitarist managed however to complete his musical education under the guidance of other family members including his mother Bashiran Begum and his uncle Ustad Wahid Khan, and of his father’s disciple D. T. Joshi. On the basis of this grounding in sitar technique and vocal music, he went on to establish his own sitar style. He made adaptations to the construction, tuning and playing technique of the instrument, a particular expanding the range of meend. Meend is the technique of pulling the string laterally across the fret with the fingers of the left hand, and its development has allowed the imitation of many Indian vocal techniques. For this reason his style is often referred to as gayaki (vocal), and although he and his follower do not hold a monopoly on such technique they certainly played an important role in their introduction into instrumental music.

To most observers Vilayat Khan was the finest exponent of the sitar to be produced by the Imdadkhani gharana (the tradition which takes its name from his grandfather). It is not difficult to see why, as his technical virtuosity and control even at unbelievably high speeds will always impress. Equally impressive however is the imagination he showed in the constant unearthing of new and beautiful patterns in any raga he performed, incorporating a wide range of right and left-hand techniques. Allied to natural showmanship and an inspirational, unpredictable, even capricious approach he was undoubtedly in irresistible performer.

Raga Piloo

Piloo (or Pilu) is a popular light raga, used particularly for the romantic vocal genre thumri. It is a difficult raga to describe in technical terms, because it defies reduction to a scale or a handful of ‘rules’: Piloo resembles more an aggregate of common phrases or motifs, many of them shared with other thumri raga. It is also quite flexible, in as much as it can be rendered rather differently according to the mood or preference of the performer. (Often a soloist would transpose a raga such as Piloo up a perfect fourth-taking the usual Ma as Sa-but this is not the case here, where Sa remains the usual C.) In this performance Ustad Vilayat Khan makes extensive use of one of the several possible ascending lines, Sa Re Ma Pa Ni (12457), as well as the descending patter GaReSaNiSa (3,2171 - often with the emphasis on 7). But the other varieties of Ga and Ni are also used, as well as other ‘accidentals’, to the point where it could hardly be said to be ‘based on ‘any simple heptatonic scale. Somehow or other it all hangs together - and not only that, it embodies a quite particular mood.

This performance comprises four gats in the sixteen-beat rhythmic cycle teentaal, the first slow and the other three fast. The first is a fairly standard, masikhani-type pattern, with the low Ni (7) falling on the first beat sam, The second part of the presentation comprises a sequence of three drut gats. The first, the Ustad announces, is a composition of his father Ustand Inayat Khan’s; the second (from c. 8’50”) is Vilayat Khan’s own; the third (from c.15’50”) was composed by the famous sarod player of a century ago, Amir Khan (not to be confused with the Khyal singer of the same name). top instrumentalists such as Vilayat Khan have a huge wealth of interesting and charming drut gats, and this is a rare opportunity to hear how differently a single raga can be treated in this genre - the different emphases given in the melody, and the used of different techniques and rhythmic trickery, are quite fascinating and very enjoyable. In each case the development includes extensive passages of tans (fast melodic runs), and several opportunities for tabla accompanist Vijay Ghate to show what he can do with solo sections.

Ustad Vilayat Khan - Sitar
Vijay Ghate - Tabla
1Raga Piloo38:22
vilambit gat in teentaal
2Raga Piloo26:55
Three drut gats in teentaal
Total Time: 65:19

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