Since his first public performance in Bombay in 1955. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma has Single-handedly elevated the Santoor from its regional folk music associations into an established Classical music instrument. In this CD the beautiful and deeply atmospheric moods of the 100 string santoor are vibrantly captured.
Overcoming initial resistance from scholars and critics, who doubted the Santoor’s capacity to express the finer melodic nuances of Indian classical ragas, Shiv Kumar Sharma is today universally recognized as one of the finest ambassadors of India culture, drawing mass audiences at major music festivals worldwide. Like all great musical pioneers, his performances demonstrate a fine balance between experimentation and tradition.
Santoor belongs to a large family of instruments, found in similar forms, and known by many different names throughout the world. The word ‘santoor’ derives from Persia, meaning ‘one hundred strains’. It is closely related to the Chinese ‘Yang Chin’, the Eastern European ‘Cymbalon’ and the Hammered Dulcimer; played in Western Europe and the USA.
Santoor found its way into India through the rich folk music of the through the rich folk music of the Kashmir Valleys, employed mostly as an accompaniment to the many vocalists in the region.
Its aesthetic beauty derives from the charming esonance created by its one hundred strings, delicately struck by a pair of sticks carved from the wood of the walnut tree.
It was Shiv Kumar’s father and teacher Pandit Umadutt Sharma, a teacher Pandit Umadutt Sharma, a distinguished state musician of Jammu and Kashmir, who first recognized the potential of the instrument inspired by his father.
Shivkumar introduced a series of changes to the santoor to increase its tonal range, and capacity to sustain notes. He also effectively absorbed his knowledge of tabla and vocal music into his playing style, exploring the Santoor’s scope for complex rhythmic improvisations and syncopation. Shiv Kumar’s great skill lies in his ability to express the essence of each particular raga, bringing out its emotional appeal and at the same time exploring seemingly limitless rhythmic possibilities.
In this performance. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma plays Raga Charukeshi, which has been successfully adopted into North Indian music during the last century from the older South Indian Karnatic music system. It has become a popular melody, which creates a mood of peacefulness and serenity, making it well suited to the Santoor.
The first composition begins in a slow tempo set to a rhythmic cycle of ten beats known as jhaptaal. Here, Kishan Maharaj introduces the tabla with a short improvised solo played in a style characteristic of the famous Benares gharana (one of the six established schools of tabla playing). Throughout the performance the master percussionist plays with both vigour and clarity, skilfully matching the rhythmic intricacies of the Santoor, and exploring all the dynamics of the versatile tabla drums. The second composition is played in the most popular rhythmic cycle called teentaal, consisting of sixteen beats. The performance concludes with an elaborate musical phrase repeated three times (tihai) executed in perfect unison with the tabla.
1. Raga Charukeshi (Alap)
2. Raga Charukeshi (Compositions in Jhaptaal and Teentaal)
Executive Producer – Alpesh Patel
Recorded live at – Saptak Festival
Location Engineer – Derek Roberts
Assistant Engineer – Krishna Shirgaonkar
Artist Liaison – Manoj Dave
Thanks to – The stage crew at Virtual studios, Nandan Mehta, Prafful Shah and everyone at Saptak.
Mixed and Mastered in the UK by Derek Roberts of Soundcraft Productions.