Saturday, 28 April 2012

Orifxon Xatamov - A great master of the Maqam tradition of Uzbekistan

Although only very few visitors of this blog seam to be interested in the classical music of Uzbekistan - for me the last musical treasure still to discover - I can't help it to post some more treasures from it. In the last 15 years a small number of excellent CDs have been published in the west, mainly in France. But still the older - and in my opinion more interesting - singers from this tradition are almost completely unknown outside of Uzbekistan or Tajikistan. Earlier we had already presented here Mamurjan Uzakov, Fattohxon Mamadaliev, a double LP of masters from the Ferghana Valley and a complete Shashmaqam. In the future we will post some more legendary singers from that area.
Now we present one of the greatest masters: Orifxon Xatamov (his name is given sometimes also as Orif or Arif Xatamov, and both versions can appaer in different spellings). I downloaded these (and many more) recordings a while ago from some Uzbek websites and put them for myself on CDs. Here we offer one of these CDs. These recordings are probably from the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s and were probably published originally as Melodiya LPs during Sowjet times. The cover picture above does not correspond to the content (although the song which gave the album the title appears here). If I remember right I downloaded the picture about 10 years ago and it looks like the cover of a cassette. 
Orifxon Xatamov (born 1924 or 1925) belongs to the Maqam tradition of the Ferghana Valley and was a student of the legendary Jurakhan Sultanov (1912-1977), who was also the teacher of Mamurjan Uzakov. Theodore Levin devoted a very beautiful chapter to Orifxon Xatamov in his very interesting book "The Hundred Thousand Fools of God - Musical Travels in Central Asia". Some excerpts from this chapter, named "The Avatar of a Master", which is based on talks with the master in the early 1990s, can be read hereOrifxon Xatamov is depicted here as a master musician deeply rooted in the musical and spiritual (Sufi) traditions of his country. 
For anybody interested in these musical traditions it's worthwhile to get this book, though I don't agree with all statements of the author, especially not the one regarding Shashmaqam. He must have heard mostly later versions, performed by much bigger ensembles.

01 Aqli rasolaring (4:51)
02 Buxoro Iroqning Sokinomasi (6:03)
03 Guluzorim (7:31)
04 Kam-kam (3:48)
05 Mehr Ruhsoring (6:11)
06 Qarab Qo'y (4:39)
07 Qoshi Yosinmu Deyin (5:44)
08 Sallamno (4:30)
09 Sani Layli (4:39)
10 Senziz (4:38)
11 Yolg'on Demang (3:52)
12 Bo’lmaydi (5:29)
13 Ishqingda Zor (6:00)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A Musical Anthology of the Orient - India IV - Unesco Collection - LP BM 30 L 2021

Side A:
1. Semmangudi Srinivasa Aiyar (Vocal) & K. S. Narayanaswami (Vina):
Dakshinamurte (12:23)
2. K. S. Narayanaswami (Vina): Pancharagam (12:41)

Side B:
1. Semmangudi Srinivasa Aiyar (Vocal) & K. S. Narayanaswami (Vina):
Navarasa (17:56)
2. K. S. Narayanaswami (Vina) & Palghat Raghu (Mridangam): 
Ehi Annapurne (5:04)
3. Tuning of the Vina (0:36)

"Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (July 25, 1908 - October 31, 2003) is considered to be one of the greatest Carnatic vocalists of the twentieth century. He was the youngest recipient of the Sangeetha Kalanidhi awarded by the Music Academy in 1947 and has received many awards including Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India, Sangeet Natak Academy award (1953), Isai Perarignarfrom Government of Tamil Nadu and Kalidas Samman from Government of Madhya Pradesh. He was affectionately addressed as "Semmangudi Maama" (Semmangudi Uncle) by his disciples. He was also considered the "Pitamaha" or the grand sire of modern Carnatic Music. He was conferred with an honorary doctorate by University of Kerala in 1979.
He was born in Tirukkodikaval, Thanjavur District as the third son of Radhakrishna Iyer and Dharmasamvardhini Ammal. He lived with his maternal uncle Tirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer, a violin maestro, until the age of four and after his death, moved to his parents' home inSemmangudi, Tiruvarur District. At the age of eight he started learning music from his cousin Semmangudi Narayanaswamy Iyer. This was followed by some rigorous training under Thiruvadaimaruthur Sakharama Rao, a famous Gottuvadhyam exponent, an event considered by Semmangudi as a turning point in his life. This was followed by another training stint with Narayanaswamy Iyer, during which time he learnt a lot of varnams and keerthanams. Then he had a musical apprenticeship with Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer. In 1926, he performed his first music recital at Kumbakonam. In 1927 gave a concert in the Madras session of Indian National Congress, another event considered by Semmangudy as a turning point in his life, as it catapulted him into the big league of vidwans at that time. He was known for producing soulful music, highly creative and yet very orthodox, despite a recalcitrant voice.
He was instrumental, along with Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, for the work on the krithis of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma. After attending one of his concerts in 1934, Maharani Sethu Parvati Bai of Travancore was so impressed by his talent and scholarship that she invited him to come to Thiruvananthapuram to edit and popularise the compositions of Swati Tirunal. He succeeded Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar as Principal of the Swathi Thirunal College of Music at Thiruvananthapuram, a post he held for 23 years, until the age of 55. At this age, he handed over his responsibilities to another Carnatic legend, G. N. Balasubramaniam and at the behest of the Government of India, became the Chief Producer of Carnatic music at All India Radio, Madras from 1957 to 1960. In later life, he concentrated on concert performances and tutoring youngsters. He gave public concerts even after the age of 90."
Continue reading here.

"K S Narayanaswamy, born Koduvayur Sivarama Narayanaswamy, (1914 to 1999 CE) was a Carnatic veena exponent of theThanjavur style, in which nuances and subtleties are given more importance over rhythm based acrobatics.
He was born on the 27th of September, 1914 to Narayaniammal and Koduvayur Sivarama Iyer at Koduvayur in Palghatdistrict in Kerala. He underwent initial training in Carnatic music under K.S. Krishna Iyer, his brother, between his seventh and fourteenth years. Later, he joined the Music College at Annamalai University in Chidambaram where he learnt vocal music under stalwarts like Sangeetha Kalanidhi, T S Sabesa Iyer and Sangeetha Kalanidhi Tanjore Ponniah Pillai, descendent of the famous Tanjore Quartet. He also learnt the veena under Desamangalam Subramania Iyer and the mridangam under Tanjore Ponniah Pillai. From 1937-1946, he served as the lecturer at the Annamalai University, his alma mater, and assisted in publishing the Tamil kritis of Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Neelakanta Sivan and Arunachala Kavi.
Upon the invitation of His Highness, the Maharaja of Travancore, he took up lectureship in veena at the Swathi Thirunal College of Music (erstwhile Swathi Thirunal Music Academy) at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. During his tenure at the Academy, he was instrumental, along with Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, then principal of the Academy, in editing and publishing the kritis of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma (commonly known as Swathi Thirunal). He participated in several international conferences and was a member of the Music and Cultural Delegations to the erstwhile USSR and East European countries in 1954. In 1970, he was invited by Yehudi Menuhin to attend the Bath International Music Festival and perform at London, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, and Birmingham. Later, he succeeded Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer as the principal of the Academy and retired in 1970.
In 1970, he came to Mumbai, as the principal of the Sangeetha Vidyalaya of Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha and taught both vocal music and veena till 1985. In 1974, he took part as the teacher of Carnatic music and veena at the Eleventh Conference of International Society of Music Education at Perth, Australia. He also participated in the Indian Music and Dance Festival of the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation at Berlin in 1977.
He was a recipient of many awards including the State Award of Kerala in 1962 and that of Tamil Nadu in 1968; the National Award of Central Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1968; the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India in 1977; Sangeetha Kalanidhi from the Madras Music Academy, Chennai in 1979 and the Swathi Ratna in 1999.
Among his disciples, notable ones include Rugmini Gopalakrishnan, Kalyani Sharma, Trivandrum Venkataraman, Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma, Geetha Raja, Nirmala Parthasarathy, Jayashree Aravind. Many musicians like M.S. Subbulakshmi and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer have had good association with him and have appreciated his music."

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Java - Vocal I - LP Galloway - Musique du Monde 18 (1975)

One of the many fantastic LPs of music from Southeast Asia, french musicologist Jacques Brunet recorded and published between 1963 and 1982. Only a small part of them have been republished later on CD, and most of these are no longer available for many years. Especially noteworthy was the series of 19 LPs of music of Bali and Java published by the french label Galloway, which unfortunately existed only for a couple of years. See text below.

Side 1:
1 - PramugariSurakarta (R.T. Hardjonegoro's)23/09/1973
 Trusing Pamireng Petaning Manah (Kandjeng Kyahi)Gamelan Surakarta13'06
2 - Ludiro MaduroSurakarta (R.T. Hardjonegoro's)23/09/1973
 Trusing Pamireng Petaning Manah (Kandjeng Kyahi)Gamelan Surakarta13'11

Side 2:
3 - Gending Sigromangsah + Bubaran Udan MasYogyakarta (Paku Alaman)07/09/1969
 PB XPura Paku Alaman25'45

"From 1963 to 1982, Jacques Brunet, a former concert pianist now musicologist, made a series of recordings of Southeast Asia's traditional music. Starting in Cambodia, the sessions rapidly spread to the neighbouring countries: Laos, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia. Helped by meetings made during previous campaigns, consecutive harvests gradually mapped out the first significant musical cartography of these countries at a time of cultural renewal, which took place between the suspension of artistic activities due to the hardships of the Second World War (or the troubles leading to independence) and the arrival of mass tourism during the mid-seventies. This latter phenomenon contributed to an acceleration in the evolution of local traditions leading to a notorious change in the musical life of these countries.
   Strictly speaking, Jacques Brunet's work was not the first attempt to create a musical encyclopaedia of this part of the world (this was done by the German firm BEKA und ODEON in its 1928 recordings), but it was the first to be duly appropriate to its subject, in several ways. First, it drew from the systematic ethnomusicological researches led by Dutch and Canadian specialists (mainly Jaap Kunst and Colin McPhee);  second it was helped by musical institutions devoting themselves to the collection and study of the World musical cultures (such as the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation in Berlin) that were hosting and financing field works; and last but not least, it used recording tools now allowing the local musical activities to be fully documented in their own time frame. The newly acquired independence of Southeast Asian countries provided a favourable addition with the creation of local recording companies starting to publish many disks that were to become precious landmarks for conscientious field researchers.
   When the author started making his recordings, only a few easily available records devoted to this part of the world were in existance (not counting those made by "sound hunters" and other collectors of "ambient sound" - whether these sounds came from a touristic context or another context). There were probably not more than ten genuine "music" records in existance and most of them were the results of a single attempt with no follow-up. Some of these are shown in a special page.
   Some ten years later, the Western public had access to a qualitatively different ensemble encompassing large sections of lengthy works spanning several sides of a 33-RPM LP, a rather extensive collection of the musical treasures of a Javanese palace and a significant musical account of a Balinese local ceremonial tradition.
   Furthermore, Jacques Brunet's productions, like some of his fellow ethnomusicologists, distinguished themselves by extended cover notes (where knowledge coming from the best musicological sources of the time merged with information gathered with an acute ear from local musicians), and by a plentiful iconography that took full advantage of the possibilities offered by the unmatched quality of the LP album format."
Continue reading here. See also the discographies according to regionLP collection and recording session.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Ustad Bundu Khan (1880-1955) - More recordings

More than 10 years ago I received - I don't remember anymore from whom - on a CD some unidentified tracks by the Sarangi master. Probably these are also radio recordings. The Sarangi player, teacher and connoisseur Dr. Kashyap identified them recently for me. Here they are:

1. Jaunpuri (9:50)
2. Sorath (9:34)
3. Malkauns (0:58)
4. Bageshree (2:47)
5. Adana (13:50)
6. Bhairav pt. 1 (8:51)
7. Bhairav pt. 2 (10:05)
8. Shahana Bahar (11:35)

Regarding the last track, Dr. Kashyap said: "interestingly different from what we have in his radio program, played at another occasion with a different sarangi."

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ustad Ummeed Ali Khan (1910-1979) - Tirvan, Bairagi, Darbari, Malkauns - A Radio Pakistan Production - LP LKDR-12 (1973)

A legendary singer of the Gwalior Gharana in Pakistan
Recordings from the archives of Radio Pakistan

Side 1: 
1. Raag Darbari (14:36)
Sarangi: Zahid Hussain
Tabla: Allah Ditta Khan
2. Raag Tirvan (11:00)
Sarangi: Nathu Khan
Tabla: Ashiq Hussain

Side 2:
1. Raag Malkauns (13:21)
Sarangi: Nathu Khan
Tabla: Ashiq Hussain
2. Raag Bairagi Bhairon (12:14)
Sarangi: Abdul Hameed
Tabla: Talib Hussain  

"Naushad Firdausi, wrote this in the Usenet newsgroup (RMIC):
Ustad Ummeed Ali Khan was a true blue Gwalior. His father Ustad Meeran Baksh was the son of Ustad Boorey Khan, who was nephew of Ustad Banney Khan whose sons Ustads Jamal Khan, Misri Khan and Saindhey Khan were all renowned gharanedar Gwalior khayaliyas. Ustad Haddu Khan was the grand Uncle of Ustad Banney Khan who incorporated many traditional punjabi folk compositions into khayal bandishes. Ustad Ummeed Ali’s only connection with Patiala Gharana was that he sometimes used to perform in jugalbandi with Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan. Many anecdotes of their friendly rivalry but I’ll leave them for later.
In his later years Ustad Ummeed Ali had lost his eyesight (it seams that this is incorrect, he rather lost his hearing) completely. Yours truly saw him travelling in a tonga many times along with Ustad Natthu Khan sarangiya to the Lahore radio station. That’s where I heard him singing all those wonderful raags like Tirvan, Champak and Neelambari (mitwa baalamwa — still rings in my ears ! ) etc. One only can hope that those recordings exist in radio archives somewhere !! For recordings try your luck with some firanghs who manage to slither into the radio archives one way or another !!"

Addeded in February 2019:

Remembering Ustad Umeed Ali Khan


From late 1930s to the middle of 1970s, Ustad Umeed Ali Khan ranked high in the hierarchy of classical vocalists of the sub-continent. He was known for his passion and ability for promoting and popularising the Gwalior gharana style of kheyal singing.
A large number of votaries of art music were drawn to his style of kheyal singing and progressive delineation of the thematic structures of the ragas. Not many even among senior citizens fully know about the achievements of that one-time great vocalist. Only on rare occasions, do we hear his recorded music broadcast by the second channel of Radio Pakistan, Lahore.
The kheyal style of singing has, with the passage of time, proliferated and metamorphosed into several schools or gharanas of professional musicians, differing in intonation, musical idioms, aesthetics and quality of music.
The oldest school of kheyal singing, the Gowaliar gharana, is distinguished by open-throat singing, formal simplicity and straight, linear transition from one note to another.
The descendents of Mian Taan Sen (who is reportedly buried in Gowaliar) are reputed to have perfected this mode of classical melodic _expression. Born in village Jandiala Guru in the district of Amritsar (East Punjab) in 1914, in a family of professional musicians, Umeed Ali grew up under the commanding shadow of his father Ustad Piyare Khan from whom he received initial training in the art of kheyal singing.
Ustad Piyare Khan had been groomed by his father Meeraan Bakhsh, a follower of Gowaliar gharana kheyal traditions. Later, the late Piyare Khan reportedly also benefited from the melodic wisdom of Jarnail Ali Bakhsh Khan, the co-founder of the Patiala gharana of kheyal singers. Like his father, Umeed Ali Khan was also gifted with sweet, rich, lively and forceful voice, which he dexterously used in the promotion of Gowaliar style of classical singing. Years of hard training under the supervision of his father made Umeed Ali Khan's style highly sophisticated and refined.
His performances brimmed with short, sparkling melodic phrases and vigorous taans, which were drenched in the tunefulness of his vocals. Like his father, Ustad Umeed Ali Khan was a tall, well-built and handsome musician.
His father was employed as a court musician in the princely State of Khairpur in Sindh, where he spent the better part of his life winning much public acclaim.
Likewise, Ustad Umeed Ali Khan remained in that province for better part of his life, both before and after partition of the sub-continent, where his music was widely appreciated. His skill in rendering Sindhi kafis, kheyals, thumris, taranas and dadras was lauded by music lovers of the province, whose love for music needs no elaboration.
His deep musical understanding equipped him with all the fine attributes of an accomplished classical vocalist. Few surviving senior denizens of Lahore, who were lucky to have enjoyed the many pre-partition days music concerts at Takia Meeraasian, or at privately sponsored soirees inside the Walled City, remember with nostalgic fondness the impromptu musical contests between Ustad Umeed Ali Khan and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Both were master musicians, endowed with mellifluous voices and opulent melodic wisdom.
On a number of occasions, both crossed musical swords between them, setting new traditions in healthy and productive competition. One such 'dual' took place during the early 40s at the residence of a connoisseur at Takia Saadooan inside Mochi Gate, Lahore.
His baithak had earned fame for holding regular musical soirees and get-togethers of classical musicians and discerning connoisseurs. On one occasion, he had invited Ustad Umeed Ali Khan and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, along with a number of other melodists, including such luminary as Pandit Jeevan Lal Mattoo. It was on that night that the two musical heavyweights demonstrated their melodic prowess.
Both of them kept on singing for extended periods of time as none would accept 'defeat', or showed any sign of fatigue. Consequently, the soiree continued till dawn, when Pandit Jeevan Lal Mattoo, an accomplished vocalist in his own right, intervened and succeeded in separating "the warring" musicians.
The honours were, therefore, shared equally by the two musical giants. Similar episodes were reported to have taken place at Takia Meeraasian and the residence of Chun Peer in Mohalla Peer Gilaanian inside Mochi Gate, Lahore.
The "rivalry" between Ustad Umeed Ali Khan and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan at one time or the other during their eventful careers assumed legendary importance as both tried to outclass each other by demonstrating the best of their melodic prowess. Of course, the beneficiaries of their "tug-of-war" were cultivated listeners, professional musicians of lesser abilities and connoisseurs.
The late Ustad Umeed Ali Khan, after completing a period of apprenticeship and training with his father, acquired much facility over difficult form, style, technique and modalities of kheyal singing. His voice - pliant, malleable and forceful - was vibrant and radiated such embellishments and ornamentation as murkis and zamzamas.
Like those of his frontline contemporaries, his melodies attracted the attention of professional musicians, connoisseurs as well as critic and votaries of classical music. His method of progressive delineation of ragas bore the imprint of his father and the long and hard training he had had under his tutelage.
Until his death, Ustad Umeed Ali Khan remained a faithful exponent of the Gowaliar gharana of kheyal singing, a trait which he also passed on to his disciples, including the classical duo of Fateh Ali Khan-Hameed Ali Khan of Hyderabad, Sindh. Another follower of the Gowaliar clan of musicians is composer Master Manzoor Husain.
During his prime, the late Ustad Umeed Ali Khan excelled a number of his contemporaries in the rendition of taranas, thumris and dadras. His mature and deep musical insight were augmented by his refined melodic thinking and acute sensitivity. Handsome vocalist late Ustad Umeed Ali Khan developed a good taste for clothing and living in a style.
On his tall and handsome figure, all kinds of clothings fitted attractively. He looked as charming in sherwani and churidar pajama as when he was attired in a Western style suit. A cultured gentleman, he gave the impression of having been caught in the midst of philistines, but did not protest much. Although he spent the better part of his life in Sindh, the late Ustad Umeed Ali Khan returned to Lahore shortly before his death in 1979, where he was laid to rest.

See here some other beautiful recordings by him:

The two sides of an EP published in 1971.

and there the first link:
A CD released in Pakistan in 2002 with recordings from the archives of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. Unfortunately one track is missing. We plan to post the complete series in flac and mp3 files somewhere in the future, inshaAllah.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Sarangi legend Ustad Bundu Khan (1880-1955) - A radio broadcast from All India Radio, Delhi

Ustad Bundu Khan, probably the most outstanding sarangi player during the first half of the 20th century, was born in Delhi, in a family of musicians. He received his early training in sarangi from his father Ali Jan Khan and later from his uncle Mamman Khan, who was attached to the Maharaja of Patiala.
Bundu Khan was a prodigiously talented artiste and also a very sincere and hard-working student of music. His complete mastery over his delicate and difficult instrument not only placed him on the top rung of the subcontinents sarangi players but also made him one of the most proficient Hindustani instrumentalists of the 20th century. He had a flair for singing and writing poetry as well. His sons, Umrao Bundu Khan and Buland Iqbal, also inherited his talents.
He played the sarangi from the Delhi Radio Station, when its broadcast was started in 1935. He became court-musician to Maharaja Tukaji Rao Holkar of Indore and was also in the Rampur court of a brief period. He was highly influenced by Pandit Bhatkhande whom he met in Indore. He devoted himself to the study of musicology, and wrote a book Sangeet Vivek Darpan wherein the ragas Bhairabi and Malkauns were elaborately discussed.
After migrating to Pakistan after the partition in 1947, Ustad Bundu Khan continued to play the sarangi from all the radio stations of Pakistan till his death in 1955. Both his sons gained prominence and became immediately known to the music circles of Pakistan. In addition to his descendants, he trained Amir Muhammad Albi, Durkhu Singh, Majid Khan, Muhammad Sagiruddin Khan and P. N. Nigam. He was posthumously awarded the Pride of Performance by the Government of Pakistan in 1985.
from: There you find some beautiful tracks.
See also: 

A National Program on Bundu Khan, in English, presented by his student Rajesh Bahadur, broadcast by All India Radio, Delhi. It contains these performances:

Part 1 (45:27):
01 Chandni Kedar 12:31 (starting at 8:43)
02 fragment 0:35 (starting at 22:38)
03 Gaud Malhar 15:03 (starting at 24:37)
04 fragment 2:33 (starting at 40:40)
05 Dhrupad Sagar (Ragamalika) 1:59 (starting at 43:27 and continuing in part 2)

Part 2 (44:41):
01 continuation of Dhrupad Sagar (Ragamalika) 2:29
02 Chandrakauns 6:21 (starting at 3:14)
03 Shahana Bahar & Bageshree Bahar 26:22 (starting at 11:59)
04 Bhairavi 4:17 (starting at 38:51)
Download Part 2

Further - very enjoyable - readings: look here under "About Bundu Khan"

A reader of our blog, Surajit, was so kind to make out of the tracks of over 2 minutes length separate tracks and to send me the result. Many thanks. Here you can download them:

Download folder of separate tracks

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Sitar legend Ustad Shamim Ahmed Khan (1938-2012) passed away on Feb 14, 2012 - In his memory: Shamim Ahmed presents Soulful Melodies on Sitar, LP published in 1979

Shamim Ahmed - Sitar
Latif (Ahmed) Khan - Tabla
LP Philips (India) 6405 644 (1979)

Side 1:
1. Raga Ahir Bhairav (12:55)
2. Dhun Mishra Khamaj (7:48)

Side 2:
Raga Desh (21:13)


“Shamim Ahmed Khan: Sitar player taught by Shankar
Shamim Ahmed Khan was one of the most eloquent sitar players of his generation and scion of a family of hereditary Hindustani classical musicians which upheld and advanced a gharana, meaning a school or style of music-making, historically generally associated with a specific geographical seat, in this case the Agra Gharana. Agra would figure largely in his musical destiny, and bring him to the attention of his life-long guru, Ravi Shankar.
Shamim Ahmed, as he was called on his early recordings, was born in 1938 in Baroda – nowadays Vadodara in Gujarat – into a family of noted Hindustani classical vocalists. From early boyhood he was instructed in classical singing by his father, an esteemed vocalist and composer. While visiting Agra he caught typhoid fever; when he recovered his vocal range had gone. He took up sitar – he recalled how he would walk to his friend's house over three miles away "to play the sitar on one pretext or the other."
He was enrolled at the Baroda Music College, and first met his future guru in 1951. "It was at a music conference in Ahmedabad," he recalled in 1995. "It was my grand-uncle [the noted classical vocalist] Ustad Faiyaz Khan's first death anniversary. Later I met Ravi Shankar with my father Ustad Ghulam Rasool Khan, who told him of my interest in music." In December 1955, in Delhi for a music competition organised by All India Radio, he met Shankar once again, and played for him.
Shankar invited him and his father to his Delhi home. The next day they underwent the ganda-bandan ceremony – the thread-tying ritual that symbolically binds guru to shishya (student-disciple) – in December 1955, making him one of Shankar's earliest pupils. From then until 1958 he would make the 1000-kilometre journey from Baroda to Delhi by train in order to study. In addition to ordinary lessons, intensive practice periods sometimes lasted five or six hours. Honouring the guru-shishya tradition, Shankar provided his shishyas with accommodation, victuals and necessities without asking for recompense, even after Shamim Ahmed was awarded a Government of India musical scholarship in 1958.
In 1960 Shankar relocated to Bombay and Shamim joined him there as a teacher at his Kinnara School of Music. On the brink of international success, Shankar moved to California and shortly afterwards invited his valuable asset to Los Angeles.
A new chapter began. He was on hand to support Alla Rakha, Shankar's tabla virtuoso, on his jointly billed Rich á la Rakha (1968) with the American jazz drummer Buddy Rich. At the age of 29 he also made his US solo recording debut, Monitor Presents India's Great For Three Ragas – for Monitor, reissued by Smithsonian Folkways Archival in 2007 – with Alla Rakha's son Zakir Hussain as his tabla accompanist.
Shamim Ahmed had a sweet, full-throated voice on the sitar, very similar to his guru's. He recorded as a principal soloist for a variety of record labels across the world. Recommended listening might include his sitar-sarod duet with Aashish Khan on Ravi Shankar's Festival From India (1968) and the UK-based Navras label's Sitar Maestro (1998). He was one of a select band of Shankar disciples, including Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Manju Mehta, Kartik Seshadri, Barry Phillips, Partho Sarathy, Anoushka Shankar and Lakshmi Shankar, on the triple-CD ShankaRagamala – A Celebration of the Maestro's Music by his Disciples (2005); his interpretation of "Janasanmodini" on that garland of Shankar raga compositions, is a glory.
In person Shamim Ahmed was an extremely modest and humble man. After one recital we chatted; quietly, without being pushy, he asked me if, when I next spoke to his guru, I would give him an honest account of how he had played. He defined Shankar's character in three words – "discipline, devotion and compassion". That description applied equally to Shamim Ahmed Khan.
Shamim Ahmed Khan, sitarist and composer: born Baroda, Baroda State (now Gujarat), India 10 September 1938; died Mumbai, Maharashtra 14 February 2012.”

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Shashmaqam of Bukhara - Box of 16 LPs, published by Melodiya on the occasion of the 3rd International Symposium of Eastern Music, Samarkand 1987

Unfortunately we don't have the original LPs. We received them about ten years ago from a friend in order to sell them for him. Before we sold them we made copies of the complete set. So what we present here is the transfers of the LPs to 11 CDs, together with complete scans of track infos in original Russian and translation into German, with some additional notes.
As an excuse for not keeping the original LPs we have to say, that this is a music which - at least for me - did not open up immediately. Only after many years of occasional listening and diving into it, it unfolded slowly its beauty and fascination. Now I'm completely fascinated by this music and am listening to it very often, mostly a couple of CDs in a row, with increasing excitement.
This 1987 edition must be a re-edition of an earlier edition, as the director of the ensemble, the famous reviver of Shashmaqam Yunus Rajabi (1897-1976), passed away already in 1976. Zhuzhu has posted in her blog an LP, dated by her 1963, of the parts 2 & 3 of Makam Rast. These are the same recordings as in our post, with the same matrix numbers. See:
Angelika Jung mentions in her book: "Quellen der traditionellen Kunstmusik der Usbeken und Tadschiken Mittelasiens" (Hamburg, 1989) on page 47 an edition of 20 LPs, published in 1966 on the occasion of the 425th anniversary of the poet 'Alishir Nava'i.
From a recently discovered reference it became clear that these recordings were completed in 1965. Read more here. The reference is from the book: "From Shamanism to Sufism: Women, Islam and Culture in Central Asia" by Razia Sultanova. The two female singers on these records talk there (in chapter 22) about their lives, and about the recording of this Shashmaqam.

The Shash-maqâm of Bukhara, the most prestigious body of Uzbek and Tajik music, took shape in the 18th century. Its principle comes from the ancient Arab-Persian  nowba suite which is still found in various forms in many traditions stretching from North Africa (see our post: Al-Haj 'Abd al-Karim al-Rais - Vol. 3 - Classical Arabo-Andalusian Music from Fes, Morocco) to Kashmir (see our post: Sufiana Kalam - Classical Instrumental & Vocal Music from Kashmir). Bukhara and Samarkand were multi-cultural but mostly Tajik and Persian-speaking cities; they still are, even though they have been part of Uzbekistan since the founding of this republic in 1929 and its independence in 1991. The  Shashmaqâm is traditionally sung in Persian, and it was only in the 1940's that Uzbek texts were adapted. This repertoire is also highly appreciated in other bi-cultural Uzbek-Tajik regions such as Ferghâna, a small part of which is in the north of Tajikistan and the remainder in Uzbekistan.
During the Soviet period, traditional music was often threatened by reforms and acculturation policies, or even elimination (between 1953 and 1956). It managed to survive however by adapting to the new conditions. In addition to official performances by large ensembles, the maqâm has always remained a living, creative art, performed by remarkable musicians in solo, in duos, trios, or larger groups, in private contexts and at banquets held for weddings, births, circumcisions or funerals. An essential phase of these long feasts (toy) is the nahâr âsh, dawn or midday banquet, restricted to men, to which art music (maqâm or  khalqi genre) brings a note of solemnity. This music is also heard at less formal gatherings (gap), and other invited occasions (ziâfat). It is so closely linked to these contexts that listeners don't feel any particular need to go to concerts to hear the same music – without eating and drinking. At the emir's court, exhaustive performances of maqâm had a protocol. The instrumental pieces were played while the emir walked slowly with his retinue from the palace to the garden. Nowadays, the conditions for the complete performance of a maqâm are never found. Participants at  toy want varied pieces and contrasting styles. The maqâm of Bukhara is no longer played in a more or less exhaustive manner as it was at the court. The pieces, removed from their context, are frequently shortened and only a small number of them are regularly played or sung. In addition, the maqâm of Bukhara has strong competition from that of Ferghâna, which is much more succinct, and the many compositions which it has inspired. For more than a century now this region has been a breeding ground for great performers and composers. The style is freer, less academic and more versatile than the style of Bukhara. Under its influence, a specifically Uzbek version of the maqâm of Bukhara, originally created in Persian (sometimes called Tajik in Central Asia) came into being. 

In Central Asia, the term maqâm refers above all to long sequences of music organized in cycles or suites, while the meaning of “melodic mode”, common in the Middle East, is a more secondary meaning here. Each “suite” bears the name of its initial modal melody: Buzruk, Râst, Navâ, Dugâh, Segâh, Irâq. The six cycles or maqâm have a total of 252 pieces which are always designated by two names: that of the rhythmic cycle (which also determines a form, a “movement”) and that of the base mode. For example Sarakhbâri Dugâh means “the Sarakhbâr (and its specific rhythm) of the maqâm Dugâh”. Thus, all of the sarakhbâr, ufar, tasnif, etc. follow the same rhythmic cycles. Only the tarâna (short songs) are not limited to a specific rhythm. The fundamental structure of each maqâm is composed of instrumental forms tasnif and mukhammas, followed by vocal forms sarakhbâr, talqin, nasr and  ufar. The other pieces are built around this framework. Most maqâm have one, two or even three main parts called shu’ba, literally appendices. Each shu’ba corresponds to a new suite of pieces which are played in another modal color, but to the same rhythmic structures which compose the first part of the maqâm.
The organizing principle of a maqâm is the rhythmic development or variation much more than the modal progression. From one maqâm to another, pieces with the same form/rhythm name (such as Qashqarcha, Mughulcha, Saqi-nâma, etc.) show little difference in their general structure. Also, while the tasnif (instrumental) faithfully reflects the spirit of the maqâm (but without its modulations), as the sections progress, the melodies become more similar. In the vocal shu’ba, the same melodic line more or less is adapted to various rhythmic and metric structures.
The musicians do not see the maqâm and shu’ba as abstract modal entities, but rather as autonomous pieces connected by affinities, a conception which is also found in the Uighur Muqam. There are indeed modal signatures which allow us to identify a piece without having heard it, but what the listener immediately notices is the rhythmic genre, not the modal form.
If we want to carefully observe the traditional modal progression which corresponds to the frets of the lute tanbur, singing the maqâm from beginning to end requires an exceptional vocal range. In order to overcome this difficulty, there could be two singers (a “baritone” and a “tenor”) or some parts could be transposed (for example playing a piece in C and the next one in G). As modal coherence is not the essential principle of the Shash-maqâm, and in any case the limitations of concert performance require shortened versions, this is the solution which is more commonly chosen. In the past, one category of singers specialized in the forms of the first shu’ba group with pieces such as nasr, which are involved, difficult in terms of rhythm and which require a broad range. Other singers specialized in the sawt, an easier style (talqin, mughulcha, sâqi-nâma, etc.). The former were honored with the title of “master” (ustâz), the others were called “singers” (sawt khân). We assume that this specialization gave them total rhythmic mastery and thus greater freedom in singing and improvisation. The easiest tunes could be sung by the instrumentalists themselves or by audience members while the singers caught their breath.

All of the melodies start from the low register and slowly work their way upwards to a peak (awj) before returning more rapidly toward the low register. With the exception of the tarâna, all of the sung tunes of the Shash-maqâm can be divided into 5 moments: darâmad (introduction), miân khat (median section) one or two  awj (apogee), du nasr (repetition of the fundamental theme an octave higher), furuvard (descent, conclusion). Any modulations (namud, “citation”) occur in this section. As for the instrumental pieces, they follow a rondo structure alternating a “refrain” (bâzgu’i) and varied sections (khâna, literally “room”), arranged according to the formula a ab abc abcd, etc.
The rhythmic formulae are called usul (literally “principles”), a term which also applies to dance and which is equivalent to a “movement” of the tempo and the specific rhythmic structure. There are about 20 usul (ranging from 2 beats to 48 beats), some of which are cited in the ancient Arab-Persian treatises and which are found, in various forms, in the Turkish and Arab traditions. In addition to these, many usul are used in classical compositions. The sung poems are borrowed from great Persian authors such as Rudaki, Hâfez, Sa’di, Jâmi, Amir Khosrow, Bidel and, in Uzbek versions, from Turkish-Persian poets like Fuzuli or Navâ’i, and Turkish authors such as Mashrab and Saqqâki or from lesserknown local poets (Hilâli, Khojandi). The tarâna  poems are of folk origin and do not follow the classical meter.

The ideal and minimal instrumental configuration for playing maqâm includes lutes tanbur and dutâr, and the spike fiddle ghijak, often replaced by the violin for which the technique and position is the same, but which has a sweeter sonority. In medium-sized groups, a frame drum dâyra is added. The voices sought are firstly those with a range of two octaves or more. Timbre is not as important as finesse and originality of interpretation, which requires the talents of a composer, arranger and improviser. Great singers can instantly adapt a new text to a known melody, and in the culminating parts (awj) of a song, they can introduce at will variations, modulation schemes (namud) or they can take the song out of its meter (ghazalrâni). Then there is a whole range of ornaments (miang) which the instruments also try to imitate: sighs (nâlash), “softness” (shirin kâri) and târtish, nâlash, mâlash or keshash (stretched, forced notes), not to mention rhythmic effects: rolls, syncopation, etc."
Jean During, from the booklet to the CD "Uzbekistan - Maqam Dugah - Uzbek-Tajik Shash-maqam", Inédit, W 260111, 2002
This CD and other CDs of Uzbek and Tajik music can be obtained from:

In 2010 there was published in Germany a complete score of the Shashmaqam, written down by Ari Babakhanov, a descendant of one of the last court musicians of the Emir of Bukhara:
Angelika Jung (Hg.): Der Shashmaqam aus Buchara - Notenband (2010) -  Überliefert von den alten Meistern handschriftlich notiert von Ari Babakhanov. Notenband mit Audio Doppel-CD mit Originalaufnahmen. Erste vollständige Niederschrift dieser alten höfischen Tradition, 486 pages, Verlag Hans Schiler.
The present score represents the most completely documented version of the Shashmaqam; included in the book are two digital audio discs with a complete cycle of a Maqam.
This product can be obtained from:

Jean During wrote an excellent introduction, with an accompanying CD, into the musical traditions of Uzbekistan-Tajikistan: Musiques d'Asie centrale -  L'esprit d'une tradition, Actes-Sud (1998), (in French)

The last two CDs contain the second part of Maqam Iraq, some parts from the Maqam tradition of the Ferghana Valley and some songs and instrumental pieces which belong to the Shashmaqam tradition.

Yunus Rajabi 

May 2016 addition:

The Unesco Shashmaqam MP3 DVD, posted on the Classic Music of Uzbekistan website is the same Shashmaqam posted here. Though the version on the Unseco DVD is more complete (I don't know what the reasons for this are. The additional recordings seem to be from the same recording sessions by the same musicians.)
Here the tracks on the Unesco DVD which are not on the 16 LPs posted here:

Buzruk Maqomi: track 11 (I'm not sure about this one) and tracks 17 to 30.
Rost Maqomi: tracks 45 to 53.
Iroq Maqomi: tracks 149 to 154.

These are quite a number of tracks, in effect three whole parts (in total about 164 additional minutes) which are not on the 16 LPs we posted.