Saturday, November 10, 2018

Book Review: The Sixth String of Vilayat Khan


November 8, 2018
Chitra Swaminathan 




Namita Devidayal’s book on Ustad Vilayat Khan is an interesting account of his life and musical journey

Writing the life sketch of a legendary musician such as Ustad Vilayat Khan is no easy task. Going by his lineage, stature, proficiency and lasting influence, summing up his music and personality in 252 pages is like exploring a raga in five minutes. Yet, such an attempt is important to enable young musicians to imbibe from his distinctive style and virtuosity.

The book, The Sixth String of Vilayat Khan, has been authored by Namita Devidayal, who had earlier penned the bestseller, The Music Room: A Memoir. Namita says she has tried to create an impressionistic fluid portrait — of a magnificent artiste and a fragmented human being. “I have tried to imagine him and tell a story anchored in fact but narrated with poetic license, like improvising on a jazz standard. It would be a mistake to regard this strictly as a biography.”

The book is an outcome of Namita’s long discussions with people who were close to the Ustad and his family and through interviews, archival records and photographs.

Vilayat Khan was 10 when his illustrious father Enayat Khan passed away, but not before inducting his son into the legacy of the greatest sitar gharana (his grandfather was Imdad Khan, who undertook the tough 40-day chilla ritual, when the musician does not step out of the house and only practices).

As a young lad, living in Calcutta, in a house named ‘Riyaz,’ Vilayat had only the sitar for a friend. He was eight when he performed at the All-India Bengal Music conference and earned immense praise. The Megaphone Recording Company even came up with a 78 rpm featuring the father on one side and the prodigious son, on the other. But his father’s untimely death left Vilayat shattered, both monetarily and musically.

The book gives a detailed account of how Vilayat fought hardships to become one of India’s foremost musicians. One night, he left home with his sitar, swearing to return only as an accomplished musician. He boarded a train to Delhi and reached his destination thanks to kind-hearted ticket collectors.

He went straight to All India Radio; the station director recognised him as Enayat Khan’s son and gave him refuge in the station’s garage. He used to have food from the canteen and clean instruments in the studio. He was delighted to see eminent artistes walking AIR’s corridors and listen to the recordings of musical greats.

Packed with interesting anecdotes and providing insights into the artistic ambience of the time, the author takes the readers through Vilayat’s training under his maternal grandfather (Bande Hasan Khan) and uncle (Zinda Hasan Khan), who were vocalists and would come to Delhi to teach him. Sometimes, Vilayat visited their house in Saharanpur. Bande Hasan Khan was also a wrestler and took his grandson to the akhada to build his stamina.

Vilayat’s mother Basheeran Begum was happy that her family had undertaken the responsibility of his training, but her son’s growing fondness for singing worried her. She warned him about breaking the family tradition. A distraught Vilayat approached his uncle, who advised him to make his sitar sing instead. So he began to consciously nurture the gayaki ang in his instrument. The Ustad, who was also an accomplished surbahar player, once said, “When I sit down on stage to play, everything comes to me in the form of a vocal performance. It just happens.”

An entire chapter is devoted to the 1944 Vikramaditya Music Conference in Bombay, where a sitar maestro called Vilayat Khan was born. Soon he became a regular at prestigious festivals and private concerts. At the same time, another sitar exponent, Ravi Shankar was making a mark too. Though stories of their rivalry were spoken about in music circles, both had tremendous respect for each other.

Vilayat’s tryst with fame, money and the film industry (among his close friends were Naushad and Madan Mohan) began when he moved to Bombay. It was also where he met his disciple Arvind Parikh, who came from a Gujarati business family. A devoted shagird, Arvindbhai also became his close confidante. By 1950, Vilayat Khan began touring the world.

His preparation for concerts included planning his attire. The book talks about how he would often have a dress rehearsal in which the entire family would be forced to participate. Even his silver and carefully-designed paan box had to be set the night before a performance. He loved the good life, traditional when it came to his art, while preferring to be up-to-date in his appearance. From Bombay, he moved to Shimla, to enjoy the quietude of the hills, and then to the U.S.

While drawing the portrait of an older Vilayat Khan, Namita touches upon his uneasy relationship with his son Shujaat Khan, a well-known sitar player and his younger son Hidayat Khan’s struggle to live up to his father’s expectations.

In 2004, after traversing the highs and lows of life like the notes of his strings, the Ustad died of lung cancer. In his hands, the sitar gained a beautiful voice.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pt. Brijbhushan Kabra (1937-2018) and the Indian Classical Guitar


Until the 1960s, the Hawaiian Slide Guitar had been heard mainly in film songs, and in the regional music of Bengal. The credit for elevating the instrument to the Hindustani art music platform goes to Pandit Brijbhushan Kabra.
With friend and collaborator: 
Pt. Shivkumar Sharma
In 1968, Kabra recorded the album “Call of the valley” with Shivkumar Sharma (Santoor) and Hariprasad Chaurasia (Flute), which won a Platinum Disc. After this landmark release, there was no looking back for Kabra and the instrument. Thereafter it has maintained a stable presence on the Hindustani music platform, and also created an impressive constituency for itself in North America and Europe.  
In the basic model, the shell of the instrument is an F-hole Guitar of European design, acoustically and structurally enhanced to support a multitude of strings. But, the design of the Indian adaptation is far from standard yet. There are several variants in circulation, with some of them even sporting names suggesting the identities of their “creators”.

The Vichitra Veena legacy


 In Hindustani music, the Hawaiian Guitar has filled the vacuum created by the decline of the Vichitra Veena, which has been used as an accompanist to vocal music, and also as a solo instrument. The technique of executing melody on these two instruments is identical, and draws upon a history of older Indian instruments -- the Ghoshaka Veena described in Bharata’s Natyashastra [200 BC- 200 AD], and the Ekatantri Veena repeatedly referred to in musicological texts from the eleventh century AD. In the Carnatic tradition, the same technique is used for melodic execution on the Gottu Vaadyam, --also called Chitra Veena. All these instruments execute melody by sliding the hard cylindrical or round object along the strings, rather than stopping the strings against the frets, as in the case of instruments like the Rudra Veena, Sitar or the Spanish guitar.
The Vichitra Veena receded from the mainstream almost simultaneously with the Dhrupad/ Dhamar genre of mainstream music, of which the instrument was once an integral part. The major reason for its decline would appear to be its cumbersome handling, and an acoustic quality unsuited for the contemporary environment, governed by the electronic manipulation of musical output.
The Hawaiian slide-Guitar appeared to solve both these problems simultaneously while offering the distinctive quality of the slide-Veena -- the ability to reproduce every nuance of Indian vocalism with minimum interference from the sound-priming [plucking] activity. Admittedly, the slide-Guitar was inferior in this role to the Sarangi, a bowed instrument. But, within the plucked lute family, and as a successor to the Vichitra Veena, it could have no peer as a mimic of the vocal expression. Because of this advantage, the Hawaiian slide-Guitar offered a much wider range of stylistic options than the Sitar and Sarod, both of which required a higher frequency of plucking.
The only trigger the slide-Guitar required for reviving the Vichitra Veena legacy was towering musicianship, which could demonstrate its musical potential, especially relative to the dominant plucked lutes -- the Sitar and Sarod.  The instrument found its  champion in Brijbhushan Kabra.

Kabra’s Guitar

Brijbhushan, a qualified mining geologist, came from a business family with a deep involvement in music. His father had studied the Sitar under the legendary Ustad Enayet Khan, the father of Ustad Vilayat Khan. Brijbhushan’s elder brother, Damodarlal, was a distinguished Sarod player trained by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. In defiance of acute cynicism within the family, Brijbhushan said “no” to the Sitar as well as the Sarod, and accepted the challenge of elevating the slide-Guitar to a level of parity with them under the tutelage of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
Inevitably, Kabra went along with the established musical approach of the major plucked lutes, the Sitar and Sarod. The first step in this direction was the introduction of chikari [drone] strings. As on the Sitar and the Sarod, his chikari set is mounted on a post midway up the stem of the Guitar on the bass [inward] side. His repertoire includes a three/four tiered alap-jod-jhala movement, slow tempo compositions primarily of Masitkhani format in Tritala, medium tempo compositions in Rupak [seven beats] and Jhaptala [ten beats], and fast tempo compositions in Tritala [sixteen beats] followed by a jhala. As with the Sitar and Sarod, light and semi-classical compositions in a variety of tala-s [rhythmic cycles] became an important part of a comprehensive repertoire to satisfy contemporary audiences.
Despite the benefit of guidance from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, a colossus amongst instrumentalists, Kabra had to rely on his own resourcefulness for technique. Kabra’s musical vision is deeply entrenched in vocalism. It might even be said that, in the melodic content of his music, he has pitted his instrument against the Sarangi, rather than the Sitar or Sarod. He places the highest premium on the capabilities of the slide-Guitar for delivering the melodic continuity and microtonal subtleties of Hindustani vocalism. This logically meant the development of an idiom and technique that would minimize the frequency of strokes, and maximize the melodic density achievable under the impact of each stroke. These became the guiding principles of Kabra’s musical endeavors.
Within the raga presentation format of the plucked lutes, Kabra’s musical vision, and the instrument’s capabilities, led him to develop the anarhythmic and melodically rich alap form as his forte. In order to pack the maximum power into each stroke, Kabra dispensed with the picks conventionally used by slide-Guitarists, and opted to play with wire plectra [mizrab-s] used by Sitarists.
Once he had harnessed additional stroke power with Sitar plectra, he could achieve the desired manipulation of timbre, volume, and sustain without the addition of sympathetic strings. In an interview with the present author, Kabra expressed the view that the slide-Guitar is so rich in the delivery of microtonal values and melodic continuity,  that the Sitar/ Sarod model of acoustic design is irrelevant for the instrument. Kabra also argued that the sympathetic strings, which support only the discrete swara-s in the raga scale, have the effect of drowning out microtonal subtleties on the Slide guitar. As a result, the delivery of melodic value is limited, rather than enhanced, by the sympathetic strings, which his juniors amongst Guitarists have widely adopted.
In order to minimize the melodic discontinuity in his music, Kabra reduced the role of multiple-string execution by opting, once again, for a Sitar-style solution -- of using the first string as the main melodic string, and tuning the second and third strings also in the Sitar style . This enabled him to execute melody across two full octaves on the main string, requiring the second and third strings only for the lower octave. In his interviews to the American press, he has argued that Hindustani music, with its vocalist model, does not require a melodic canvas larger than three octaves. 

Kabra’s music
Kabra’s repertoire is basically mainstream music, biased in favour of popular raga-s like Puriya Kalyan, Bageshri, Bihag Madhuwanti, Jaijaiwanti, Hameer and Nat Bhairav. His discography shows a fair representation of light music – melodies like Kafi, Gara, Rajasthani folk, Mand, and Piloo. The patent raga-s of the Maihar Senia lineage, such as Gauri Manjari and the Carnatic raga Kirwani appear to have only a small presence in his performing material.
With his design of the instrument, and his novel technique, Kabra has achieved an acoustic richness in the musical output of the Slide Guitar, which approaches the more mature plucked instruments like the Sitar and the Sarod. In the presentation of raga-based music, Kabra strongly favors the alap-jod-jhala forms, often even as stand-alone pieces of music, without rhythm-accompanied forms following it. Even on a mass medium like the radio, he is known to have performed a 40-minute alap-jod-jhala as a self-sufficient rendition. This predilection is consistent with his highly vocalized melodic imagination, and his belief that these movements are the best vehicles for the unique melodic capabilities of his instrument. Kabra’s percussion-accompanied music largely follows the orientations of the Maihar Senia lineage. His bandishes are composed in vilambit, madhyalaya or drut Tritala, or in madhyalaya Roopak or Jhaptala.
Kabra has also been an immensely successful duet musician. His partnership with Shivkaumar Sharma and Hariprasad Chaurasia produced the “Call of the valley” album, which is now the stuff of legend. His duets with Shivkumar Sharma – particularly the LP recording of Jhinjhoti – ia also amongst the most memorable pieces of duets produced in recent history.
Kabra established himself and the slide-Guitar in Hindustani music at a time when three giants -- Ustad Vilayat Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan – were at the peak of their creative and technical prowess. In such an environment, the mere novelty of the slide-Guitar could not have assured the instrument a future in Hindustani music. Kabra’s success can be explained only as a victory of his perception, and exploitation, of the distinctive musical value that the Hawaiian slide-Guitar had to offer.

After Kabra

In response to the changes in the environment of Hindustani music, Kabra’s successors on the slide-Guitar scene, including his own disciples, have drifted away from the technical and stylistic choices he made. Most of them have chosen a stylistic direction with a much higher stroke density than Kabra’s, and an extensive use of multiple-string execution as an important element in their music. The slide-Guitar idiom is now drifting closer to the idiom of the Sarod, but surpassing it in dazzling potential, thanks to the slide-Guitar’s superior ergonomics. The technical decisions of the younger Guitarists reflect these directions.
A melodic canvas spanning four octaves, and across five strings, is now in favour.  Sympathetic strings have now become a stable feature of the Indian classical Guitar. The emphasis is now on kaleidoscopic tonal patterning and dazzling virtuosity, rather than elaborate raga presentation and melodic richness. Strokes therefore need ergonomic facility more than depth or power. To this end, Guitar-style picks have replaced Kabra’s mizrab. Some Guitarists have also found it efficient to shift the chikari drones to the treble [outward] side of the instrument.   
Whether as an acoustic machine, or as the presenter of a well-defined style of instrumental music, the Indian classical Guitar is still in a state of evolution. While the succeeding generations of Hindustani Slide Guitar maestros have successfully sent the instrument into international orbit, Kabra's pioneering and formidable musicianship remains a landmark in the history of Hindustani instrumental music. .
(c) Deepak Raja. April 2005


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Shaping a life in classical music


Paper presented to the Seminar on Pedagogy of Performing Arts, hosted by the Lalit Kala Kendra, Gurukul, Savitribai Phule Pune University, on March 6-7, 2018. 

This seminar is focused on the pedagogy concerns of the University system.  The system represents a massive commitment of public funds. Those concerned about the social value of this commitment are best equipped to evolve the processes suited to its objectives. I have neither studied Hindustani music in the University environment, nor taught in it. I can therefore contribute only tangentially to the theme of today’s seminar. 

Whatever I say is based on 60 years of research on a perfect sample of one – myself – and my interactions with some of the leading musicians of our times. As I see it, we are talking, essentially, about shaping lives in classical music. And, this will be the focus of my observations. 

I have a mildly eccentric view on the serious engagement of individuals with classical music. Most of us in this room consider ourselves “trained musicians” or “trained musicologists”.  We also gladly admit that we are whatever we are because of our Guru-s/ teachers. In my view, this is a culturally conditioned notion, not entirely supported by the reality. I state this as an academic observation. And, I say this with the benefit of studying with some of the finest Guru-s, and without the slightest disrespect to their contribution to my evolution. But, if I, or my Guru-s, try putting our fingers on what precisely was taught, when, and how, we are likely to come up with amusing answers which carry no conviction. 

Thousands of people go through degrees in music or personalized taleem, but never emerge as either musicians or musicologists. It is also possible to prove that many who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of classical music in either pursuit, and even excelled, had no degrees or taleem. So, whether we are talking of the personalized system of art transmission, or of institutionalized teaching, or something entirely different, the key to excellence in classical music lies within the aspirant, far more than in the environment which may claim to shape his/ her potential. In addition to their natural endowments of musicality, musicians and musicologists of any significance are born with an obsession with the mysteries of patterned sound, and pursue that obsession irrespective of economic and other consequences. 

Allied to this is my view that a life in classical music may flower as a commitment to either performance or scholarship. From my own experience, I can say that when I was only pursuing performance, I was also acquiring a great wealth of musical thought. And, when I began to pursue musicology, the quality of my performance improved steadily and perceptibly. From this, I infer that the same person may pursue different routes simultaneously or at different stages in his life. The two are, indeed, distinct professions, because they are accountable to different audiences and constituencies. But, this does not make theory and performance distinct pedagogical issues – except at an advanced level and except in the department of communication skills. A life in music is a life in music. 

This is so because our music is a process, and not a product. It has no existence independently of performance.  Without a deep involvement with the process, you qualify neither for musicianship, nor for scholarship. Society changes.  The aesthetic assumptions underlying performance change.  The music changes. Theory gets re-written. But, musical thought and performance remain perennially connected. 

Having laid out my perspective on a life in music, I shall proceed more systematically to look at the shaping of musicianship, which I possibly understand better than scholarship. I shall deal with the following dimensions of musicianship, and consider what each one might signify as a pedagogical issue. 

1. The basic equipment of musicianship
2. The communicative dimension of musicianship
3. The expressive dimension of musicianship
4. The meditative dimension of musicianship

The basic equipment
An individual qualifies for a serious involvement in music by having an above-average endowment of two faculties: 
(1) Pitch differentiation: the ability to distinguish sounds as being either higher or lower than others.
(2) Pattern recognition: The ability to identify sound patterns. 

Pitch differentiation is, I suspect, largely a genetically ingrained faculty. An above-average score on this dimension is required for intense involvement with all categories of music. Classical music certainly demands more refined pitch differentiation abilities than other categories of music. I am not aware if research in neuro-acoustics now enables aspirants to improve their scores on this count. My suspicion, however, is that the possibilities for such enhancement would be limited. 

Pattern recognition is an entirely different ability of the mind. The word “recognition” provides the clue to its character. We recognize patterns only by relating them to familiar patterns stored in the mind. Some basic patterns may be genetically embedded at birth – I don’t know what science has to say about this. But, beyond this, our entire bank of stored patterns is acquired either involuntarily from the environment or by the purposive cultivation of the mind.  

Classical music demands a more sophisticated ability of pattern-recognition than other categories of music. A person’s ability to perceive, store, and recall patterns is largely a function of the intelligence and memory. These, too, are grey areas in psychology. There is, to my knowledge, no consensus on the degree to which these are genetically ingrained, or acquired, or to what extent these can be enhanced. 

Of immediate concern to us are Raga and Tala patterns.  This sounds easy, and manageable. What is “easily” taught, however, is limited by the limitations of the teachers and aspirants. The great musician is known for having explored a canvas of patterns far beyond what can be taught by one Guru or even multiple Gurus or at a University. The idea of patterning is not finite. Any cluster of entities which cannot be considered random is a pattern. And, in mathematics, randomness itself is considered only a measure of man’s ignorance. So, within what is considered random, many “patterns” may yet be discovered. And, of course, music also has use for obviously random “patterns”. So, the pattern recognition/creation issue is far more complicated than it seems. 

Patterning belongs to the territory of “ideation” – abstract thinking --  which maestros often develop  through a study of abstract subjects like aesthetics, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, metaphysics, and even occult sciences like astrology. The personalized mode of art transmission in Hindustani music adopted the model of mystical apprenticeship, and is known to have encompassed  such initiation. Should the pedagogy of institutional art transmission concern itself with this resource of extra-musical ideation? The proposition is worth considering. 

The communicative dimension
The communicative dimension of classical music relates to the ability of a musician to execute and deliver musical ideas to his/her listeners. This has two facets. The first is technical command over his instrument/ voice. The second is a command over the architecture of the genre in which he/she performs. Casting the Raga (a Formless Form) into Communicable Form requires the agency of an established genre, each with its distinctive interaction between melody, rhythm, and poetry (where relevant), and movements sequenced “logically” for cumulative absorption, retention and response. Prof. Ashok Ranade referred to this process as one of “Ritualisation”. 

This dimension of classical music is “mechanical” and structural, and possibly the easiest to teach – whether in the personalized model of art-transmission or in the University system. It can be imparted through riyaz routines, and even memorization.  

A command over the communicative dimension is, of course, crucial because a musician experiences two kinds of anxiety in performance – execution anxiety and ideation anxiety. A mastery over the communicative dimension relieves the musician of the execution anxiety during performance, and frees his musical energies for attending to the ideational content of the music. But, the communicative dimension – no matter how highly developed – has little musical value unless supported by the flowering of musicianship. This flowering relies predominantly on the remaining two dimensions – the expressive and meditative. 

The expressive dimension
The expressive dimension in music produces a manner of manifesting the character, quality of feelings, sentiments or intentions of the musician. Expression is primarily a manifestation of the musician’s sense of self-hood, and an awareness of himself as the generator of aesthetic value. It is this dimension which Prof. Ranade once described as “Individuation”. 

As a pedagogical issue, this is perhaps the toughest challenge. How do you generate/ inculcate/ activate the sense of self-hood in a musician? Guru-s in the personalized model perhaps did not see this as a significant issue at all. Enlightened present-day Guru-s have, however, often struggled with this issue for decades even with their most talented students. 

Eminent Guru-s, with whom I have discussed this issue have expressed two views: Some believe that such a flowering of the musical personality usually begins between the ages of 40 and 45. Others believe that a growing involvement in the Raga-ness results in the musician building a special relationship with Raga-s, and this relationship causes an “Individuation” to surface in its rendition. 

These two views could well be saying the same thing. Amercian composer, WA Mathieu, well versed in Hindustani music, articulates this memorably in his work “A musical life”. We often speak of a musical performance as a “piece”. What is it a “piece” of? It is, indeed, a piece of life itself. Feeling and expressing a Raga in an individualistic manner could well require the musician to have started understanding life -- a possibility that crystallizes only after 40. 

Does this dimension of musicianship deserve pedagogical attention? Is there a way of speeding up the evolution of a musician’s special relationship with the Raga-ness ahead of his/her emotional maturity as a person? Or is the whole dimension of expression to be left to the natural processes of personality development? 

With a musician’s involvement in Raga-ness being a factor, we are approaching the meditative/ contemplative dimension of Hindustani music. 

The meditative dimension
The meditative dimension of Hindustani music – the element of “Ideation” -- is fundamental because the Hindustani musician combines in himself the role of the composer and performer, both roles working simultaneously during performance. Performance is nothing but the rendering/ translating/ interpreting the Formless Form of the Raga in communicable form. Being formless, the Raga is pregnant with a virtually infinite number of aesthetically coherent melodic ideas. This is why we need to recognize three levels of access to the Raga form. 

1. Gurumukhi Swaroop: This is the Raga-form that a musician imbibes from his Guru/ Guru-s/ Teachers. 
2. Sarvamanya Swaroop: The consensual melodic personality of the Raga, as has been explored by all musicians whose music is available – an aggregate of all the melodic ideas hitherto explored -- and which listeners recognize as belonging to a Raga.
3. Virata Swaroop: This represents all the melodic possibilities of the Formless Form of the Raga – including those yet remaining unexplored. This notion of Raga-Swaroop is limited only by the boundaries between the specific Raga and other Raga-s. 

Our tradition expects that every musician will aim at penetrating/ transcending the Sarvamanya Swaroop and access the Virata Swaroop for newer insights into the melodic and emotional possibilities latent in the Raga. But, how can he penetrate the Sarvmanya sawroopa without having first mastered it? 

This is a serious pedagogical issue for institutionalized education which, I suspect, remains, largely neglected. Even in my interactions with serious young musicians, I have found the greatest lethargy on this count. A Raga belongs to nobody. Every musician participates in its evolution.The musical culture has not been able to come to terms with the reality that a serious study of the tradition is a rent every generation has to pay in order to occupy a place in the tradition. It is clearly absurd to assume or believe that anyone can be an original interpreter of a Raga without having taken the trouble of absorbing every facet of it that has already been explored.  

The key to excellence
This brings me to the argument I suggested in the earlier part of my observations . Hindustani music cannot produce either a great musician or a significant musicologist without a vast exposure to performed/ recorded music. No Guru, no University, no books can cultivate his musical/ critical abilities to a level of excellence without extensive and intensive listening. And, fortunately for today's aspirants, never before in history has a 100 years of music been available for study, thus permitting a panoramic as well as encyclopedic understanding of the tradition. 

In such exposure, the aspiring musician/ scholar has access to all the three dimensions of Hindustani music. The communicative. The expressive. The meditative. He will absorb the insights according to his innate endowments of musicality.  His insights will grow at a pace permitted by his intellect, memory, and his exposure to the world beyond music. His individuality will grow as he evolves his“Personal Musical Statement”with the help of all the inputs he has absorbed. There is a pedagogical perspective here. But, that is possibly less important than my basic argument. 

A life in classical music is a self-driven journey. There is a space in it for mentors, inspirations, and even guides. If one tries to quantify the size of this space, one may produce numbers that are culturally repugnant. But, the truth is that no Guru, and no University, can entirely claim the shaping of either an eminent musician or an eminent musicologist. 

If a great musician has spent a total of 10,000 hours receiving taleem from his Guru, he has almost certainly spent 20,000 hours of life listening to other musicians of stature. If a significant scholar of music has spent 5000 hours pursuing degrees in music, I am certain that he has spent 10,000 hours studying works unrelated to the syllabus. And, those who match a yardstick of excellence in either department can be expected to have had intensive exposure to other department as much as their own pursuit. 

Classical music is a philosophical art. Involvement with it arises from a thirst for unraveling a mysterious territory of human experience. It can be compared, in some ways, to the spiritual urge with which the more evolved souls are born. Those born to this calling will quench their thirst, with or without any guidance. 

(c) Deepak S. Raja .March, 2018