Sarod Master Visits, Wows
By Michelle Oertner ‘16
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 14:02
Raga is an entirely improvisational style of Indian classical music, literally meaning improvisation within a set framework of ascending and descending notes. Tuesday night, Indian Sarod Master Amjad Ali Khan played some Ragas of his own at the Williams Center for the Arts. It was exhilarating.
Khan was joined by his two sons, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan, along with guest Tabla virtuosos Vineet Vyas and Anubrata Chatterjeet.
Although they played mostly improvised Ragas, they also played one piece that included some Tanam-style vocals. Tanam is a form of improvised singing, made of neutral syllables.
All five men are quite accomplished, labeled as masters and virtuosos of their instruments. Amjad Ali Khan in particular was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honor, in 2001.
The men have been playing since they were young boys, and it shows. They were quick yet precise. Despite the fast pace, they communicated with each other well, directing the piece where to go next—whether it was to a Tabla solo, a Sarod solo or an entirely new tune.
Near the end of the performance, when all five musicians were on stage, Amjad Ali Khan began a call and response pattern with his sons, daring them to play increasingly difficult melodies. They put on quite a show. The family dynamic was obvious as the father and son trio played together, challenging each other.
Their non-verbal communication was perfect and invigorating for everyone to watch. The audience was tapping along to the drummers’ beats, laughing at the games the performers played and enjoying the camaraderie they shared.