This once popular stringed instrument has become an endangered instrument todav . thanks to artists like Sultan Khan who are reviving its popularity.
Sarangi is carved out of a wooden block. The lower chamber, covered with a skin, serves as the sounding chamber. There are three guts - the playing strings - and more than 30 sympathetic strings. All these pass over the bridge placed on the taught skin of the hollow chamber. The guts are bowed with a heavy bow held in the right hand and notes are produced by touching the guts by the cuticles of the left hand. The resonance produced by the sympathetic strings gives the tone of the Sarangi a very sonorous character. The fingering board has no frets and hence 'meends' and 'gamaks' can be executed more effectively. It can produce a number of colors of music and hence it is lovingly called 'Sau-Rangi' the one with hundred hues!
Amongst the foremost exponents of Sarangi, the name of Sultan Khan is the most popular one today. Sultan Khan hails from a family 'of Sarangi players. His grandfather Ustad Azim Khan was a renowned Sarangi player of his times. So was Sultan Khan's father Ustad Gulab Khan, a sarangi virtuoso and a vocalist as well. Sultan Khan's training began under the watchful eyes of his father and he soon picked up the nuances of the technique of playing and of the Gayaki style.
Clean and powerful bowing, absolute tunefulness and a unique aesthetic approach mark the Indore Gharana, to which Sultan Khan belongs. He has done a great honour to the instrument by taking it to the central position on the concert platform and by creating audience for it.
He gave his first performance at the All India Musical Conference when he was only 11 years old. Since then he has been performing all over India, all over the world!
Being a good singer himself, he can produce all the vocal embellishments on his instrument with ease and grace. His `meends' (glissandi), clear and ornate taans, produced by dexterous fingering are a pleasure to listen to.
His talent is not restricted to the field of classical music alone. He is the most sought out instrumentalist in film music and ghazal singing. He had also joined Beatle George Harrison and Pandit Ravishankar's "Dark Horse" tour in 1974. All this experience has enriched his style and today we have a style which could be called the 'Sultan Khan' style. This cassette bears testimony to all these merits.
Ustad Zakir Hussain
No tabla-player today has such a tremendous 'star-value' as Zakir Hussain. His success is indeed phenomenal. He is an instant success on any .platform - from Jazz to Classical Indian Music.
He is the perfect accompanist for any type of music - vocal, instrumental, dance and today - even fusion music. Zakir adds a lot to the enjoyment of the listener and inspires the co-artist to bring out the best. That is possible, because Zakir is not merely a percussionist but an imaginative and sensitive musician at heart. He improvises in such a manner that the basic beauty of the presentation is not harmed. And while he is solo-ing..wow! It's nothing but thrill!
A beautiful morning melody which combines the elements of the raags Nat and Bhairav. It differs from Bhairav in the use of Shuddha Re in place of the Komal Re used in Bhairav. This brings in a somewhat pleasant quality evoked by raga Nat.
Thc beauty of alaps in this raga is no doubt supreme. The way the notes blend with the drone of the tanpura is charming. So are the taans, thrilling and captivating.
Special mention must be made of the excellent accompaniment provided by Ustad Zakir Hussain . Though a soloist himself, here he accepts a subservient role and enriches the performance by his controlled, thoughtful and aesthetically complementary support. The way he produces the notes of the raag on the 'Bayan' (the bass drum) is amazing.
This short piece is remarkable for two reasons : one, for the way Sultan Khan's sarangi tries to reproduce syllables of the poetry of the song and second ... for the typically regional style in which he has sung as a prelude to his instrumental solo. It is a colorful demonstration of the technique of Sarangi which is supposed to imitate the vocal style.
Holi is the festival of colors and merriment in Northern India and this rendition has succeeded in evoking the mood of the festival. Zakir's accompaniment too takes a different color and makes you swing with the rhythm.