Finding New Melodies in the Battle of the Notes

Finding New Melodies in the Battle of the Notes

The audiences couldn’t help but smile in excitement when the duo — sitar player Hidayat Khan and raga pianist Utsav Lal announced that they were going to play Raag Yaman.

Assembled at the ITC Grand Chola on Thursday evening, the invited guests witnessed a jugalbandi between a piano and a sitar rendered by the artistes, who had performed at Bengaluru the previous day. Earlier, Hidayat Khan said he had no game plan and they would just go where the compositions took them, for that adds to the beauty of the jugalbandi.

All set to run riot with the notes of the raga, Hidayat Khan and Utsav started off with an aalap with a slow progression of swaras. The chemistry between both artistes was evident as one played a specific set of notes and the other seemed to understand the direction of the composition and complemented him with a tune where the cumulative effect made the audience nod involuntarily. For instance, when Hidayat played high notes on the sitar, Utsav conjured some progressions in the middle or lower octaves to keep the harmony intact.

And even while playing their bits, Hidayat and Utsav seemed natural and the rendition seamless. The jugalbandi did not look like bits contributed by either of them, but like notes played by a single instrumentalist. They complimented and encouraged each other when they played particularly nice portions.

The alaap was rendered and the compositions began with alternating rendition of swaras by the lead instrumentalists, with the tabla joining in. Together they came up with an energetic performance that interested the audience even more.

Clapping and appreciatively nodding at the performances, discussing how the jugalbandi was interesting, even when it was just in one raga, the audience received the performances well

While most of the them who were Indians seemed to enjoy the music they were familiar with, those who paid rapt attention were those from abroad. They were transfixed at the renditions, only checking their mobile phones periodically.

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The New Indian Express