Aneesh and Adrian scintillate

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Duo’s musical treat enchants listeners, says MALLI IYER

Three performances in Sydney within a fortnight brought forth a treat in percussion, as well as some melodious and classical sarod for the listening pleasure of music lovers.  It culminated with a sarod recital by Adrian McNeil accompanied by Aneesh Pradhan on the tabla.  A select audience at Macquarie University was enthralled by the tabla skills of Aneesh Pradhan, who is a highly accomplished soloist and a sensitive accompanist.

Aneesh is a disciple of the well-known tabla maestro, Sri Nikhil Ghosh and by his own admission, he wishes to go beyond the limits of tabla and rhythm, and will continue to learn new variations.  Aneesh is known to push the boundaries by experimenting with a blend of western music.  He has conducted cross-cultural experiments with the Asian Fantasy Orchestra, Japan in 1998 and 2000.  His accomplishments include several lecture demonstrations and workshops globally. He has been honoured with the Aditya Birla Kala Kiran Award for his tabla skill and the talented musician has written a book titled Indian Tabla – Ebook. He also composes music for television, dance and theatre audiences all over India.

Aneesh has also partnered in a venture called “Underscore Records” with Smt Shuba Mudgal, another well-known Hindustani classical vocalist.  Together they curate the festival, Baajaa Gaajaa from 21st Century India.  His current visit has been sponsored by the Department of Contemporary Music Studies, Macquarie University.

Adrian McNeil, a lecturer in Macquarie University, is a well-known sarod player living in SydneyAdrian has received intensive training with Ashok Roy in the Guru-Shishya parampara and his music is aligned to the “Maihar Gharana” which is associated with names like Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Allauddin Khan and Ustad Enayat Khan. He has also received guidance from Sachindra Nath Roy and Dr. Ashoke Ranade, a renowned musicologist. Adrian has recorded music regularly for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and is the author of Inventing the Sarod – a cultural history. Adrian McNeil has a PhD in music and has played the sarod in major cities in India, accompanied by top level percussionists.

Adrian played Raag Bhimpalas to a Vilambit gat in Jhap Taal and to a Drut Gat in Teen Taal (16 beats). Between the two artistes, they gave a superb exposition for over an hour of ear-pleasing music.  Much to the delight of the audience, this was followed by a short tabla solo by Aneesh Pradhan to Teen Taal (16 maatras) which kept the audience glued to their seats.  Aneesh and Adrian concluded their evening performance with a dadra in Raag Kirvaani (which has a South Indian origin). Adrian introduced several raag variations, thus giving it a dimension of “raagamalika”.  Aneesh was equal to or was able to match these piece by piece, making the performance all the more enjoyable.  In conclusion, the audience was left yearning for more.


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  • Dear Shubhaji,A version of the rearsech that we have compiled . Will give you a copy in the evening,regards,GauriBefore we begin, lets take a quick look at two basic concepts in Hindustani classical music e2€“the Thaat and the Raga.As we are aware,the saptak or octave consists of 12 notes which includes the shuddh,komal and teevra notes.The thaat is a musical scale or a Parent scale. It comprises of different sets of a complete scale of seven notes .For a performer, Thaats have little significance but for a student of music, the system comes as a great help to understand the classification of ragas.What, then, is a Raga? It is most simply described as a set of notes, usually from five to seven notes, together with a set of rules to combine them effectively and create a particular mood.orA Raga has a specific melodic structure with arrangement of notes. Certain essential features are extremely necessary to establish a Raga . Possibly the most prominent feature of the Raga is that it should colour’ or please the minds of the listeners.Raaganga -The thaat is one way to classify ragas another way is raganga e2€“ here rather than the parental scale or the notes in the raga, melodic characteristics or features define whether a raga belongs in a particular raganga. Of course many of our ragas are ancient and the raganga classification was created much later e2€“ but it helps music lovers tremendously by providing a powerful framework of the thought processes that have guided the musician’s mind through the ages.Let us look at the Raganga Raga Kalyan. In Hindustani music, it is called by different names Yaman, Iman, Eman and Aiman. It is a sampoorna raga which means that it includes all the swarase2€“ Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni. Let us look at the melodic characteristics of Raganga Raga Kalyan or YamanNi Re Ga Re SaGa Mae2€™ Pa Re SaMae2€™ Dha Ni Dha PaSa^ Ni Dha Ni Dha PaMae2€™ Pa Dha PaThese are the melodic characteristics that mark the Raganga Kalyan of which Raga Yaman is the flagship raga . Two other ragas that derive from this raganga are Raga Bhoop and Raga Shudh Kalyan.Khayal -Khayal literally comes from the Persian for thought or imagination. The essential component of a khayal is a composition (Bandish or cheez ) and the expansion of the text of the composition within the framework of the raga which is called e2€˜badhat e2€˜ or e2€˜vistaare2€™. A Khayal typically begins with the alap which is that section of music that plays with the notes of the Ragaang which show the typical characteristics of the raag being presentedWe will be presenting a chota khayal in Raag Yaman in drut teental to be followed by a Tarana.A Taraana is a fast paced composition which doesne2€™t have lyrics but uses pnemonic syllables like e2€˜nome2€™ tome2€™ e2€˜tananae2€™ . Taraana is a musical device that can be observed in sitar, sarod presentations as also in Dance . One of the theories of its origin we learnt during this workshop was that Dhrupadias who taught their art to the beenkars( instrumentalists/veena players) didne2€™t want to fully disclose all their musical secrets so instead of teaching lyrics taught in the form of pnemonics . Interestingly, Taranas can be observed in other forms of music as well. In jazz there is a technique called e2€˜ scattinge2€™ where the singer tries to improvise with what the saxophone/trumphet is playing .We shall then move on to a Nirguni Bhajan in Adhha Teental . This a bhajan written by Swami Dharamdas , a prominent disciple of Sant Kabir who wrote in the 13th century A.D.(An interesting poem that we found by Sahajo Bai , disciple of Dharamdas ). I can abandon God, but I would not forsake my guru. God is not the equal of my guru. God has given me birth into this world. My guru has freed me from the cycle of birth and death. God gave me five thieves. My guru freed me from them when I was helpless. God threw me into the net of family. My guru cut away the chains of attachments. God ensnared me in desire and disease. My guru has freed me from all this by initiating me. God made me to wander in the illusion of doing. My guru showed me my being. God hid himself from me. My guru gave me a lamp to illuminate him. Above all, God created this duality of bondage and freedom. My guru destroyed all these illusions. I offer myself, body, mind and soul At the feet of my Guru Charandas. I can abandon God, but I can never abandon my guru. Sahajo Bai is singing in praise of her guru who liberated her from all the bondage and worldly illusions.We would like to present a beautiful composition that we learnt last year e2€“ this is a lilting Kajri in Maajh Khamaaj . Deepachandi Taal .