Allyn Miner studied under Thakur Sri Raj Bhan Singh in Varanasi from 1971 to 1982. Thakur Raj Bhan Singh, originally of Allahabad, studied with his father and from Pandit Ramchandra Mavlankar of Gwalior and Allahabad. Allyn became a student of Ustad Ali Akbar Khansahab in 1985. She became his formal disciple in 1990.
Samir Chatterjee began his studies with Pandit Bankim Ghosh, Pandit Balaram Mukherjee, Pandit Rathin Dhar and Mohammad Salim. He was later guided by Pandit Amalesh Chatterjee (since 1966) and Pandit Shyamal Bose (since 1984). All of Samir's teachers have been from the Farrukhabad Gharana of tabla. playing, which he now represents.
I wish to acknowledge my teachers for the love and trust they have invested in me over the decades. Any part of this performance that expresses beauty, skill or musicality is due entirely to their teaching.
My years in Banaras were formative in ways that are beyond expression. The lessons I learned there will be with me for the rest of my life. Later I followed a long-standing dream when I approached Ustad Ali Akbar Khansahab for instruction. The direct access to his genius has been the greatest thrill of my musical life.
This recording was a long time in coming. Many live concerts were recorded but not released. Two studio recordings from the 1990s were distributed only to friends, although one piece is to be found on the CD Rainbow (Neelam). Finally, Samir suggested we do a recording, and we got together at Tom Tedesco's studio in April 2003. The pieces were recorded pretty much straight through. Tom used minimal effects in making the master, took out one or two technical glitches, and here it is. A recording is a product of its time. I am in a mellow musical phase, exploring nuances more than speed, and expression more than technicalities. I hope this recording conveys some of the delicate aspects of sitar music which 1 like best.
I have been playing with Samir for several years now and have enjoyed a delightfully collaborative relationship. His accompaniment has goaded me to be more playful and inventive, but never complacent. He sets a wonderful example of discipline and dedication, tempered by warmth and empathy. I love his playing and love to play with him.
Virama, repose or rest, stillness or silence, is used in both music and yoga.
Allyn Miner Philadelphia, August 2004
Raga Patdip (tracks 1-3)
S g m P N S, S N D P m g R S
I learned Patdip from my first Guru, Sri Raj Bhan Singh, as it is traditionally played - mainly in the upper register in a lively tempo. Later under Ustad Ali Akbar Khansahab, I learned the expanded version, where it is given the full treatment including alap and the slow gat. The raga has a serious but lively character. Perhaps it's the tension of the N contrasting the mellowness of g and m that allows the raga to move between moodiness and playfulness. It seems perfectly matched to the changing light of late afternoon and early evening. This raga is a pleasure to play on the sitar. Its intervals are suited to slow and fast techniques and to both delicate nuance and forceful tans.
Raga Hemant (tracks 4-5)
S G m D N S, S N D P m G R S
Hemant, associated with autumn and played at night, is a creation of Ustad Allauddin Khansahab and is well loved among his disciples. I first learned it from Sri Raj Bhan Singh. He had been greatly inspired by the music of Ustad Allauddin Khan in his youth, and he would occasionally meet Khansahab at the All India Radio station in Allahabad. I don't know whether he learned it from him or heard it performed on the radio. Later I had the privilege to study the raga in detail and hear it so many times from the hands of Ustad Ali Akbar Khansahab. Hemant has a sweet melodiousness that makes it a joy to play. Its inner melodies seem to flow spontaneously, and delicate variations produce endlessly pleasing phrases. This raga has a perfect balance of freedom and design. The lightness of the P helps give the raga its character, along with the beautiful movement as G resolves to S with a subtle touch on m.
Raga Pilu (track 6)
With so many possible melodies and the mercurial character of this raga, each performance of Pilu is an adventure. Just as for any performer of Hindustani music, my version is built on the many lessons I have had in the raga and the countless renditions, vocal and instrumental, to which I have been exposed. And of course the final product is shaped by the whims of the moment. The composition on this recording was created on the basis of a song that Samir sang to me shortly before we played. This, and the fact that I was playing in a spirit of freedom bordering on abandon, explains the whimsical nature of this piece.