Touch Of Class

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

Tambura Player
Aswari Pawar
Tabla Player
Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari

About this album

Raga Des

'Des' means country, and the rag it denotes evokes the folk melody particularly of western India; though it has crystallized into a 'classical' melody-type with well-defined grammatical rules, Des retains a lightness of mood associated in India with 'country' music. The rag comprises a number of prominent phrases, including the following; these are subject to endless variations, however, and by slipping in mid-stream from one to another, the artist creates may ambiguities and surprises.

Amjad Ali Khan's rendering reflects classical vocal style in the smooth transitions from note to note and the undulating inflections of each dying sound, with more than a hint of the serene dhrupad style in the opening alap; the unfolding of the rag in first low, then high registers is relatively rapid, however, in keeping with the character of this rag.

Rag Hemavati

Hemavati is a South Indian rag, belonging to the 58th in the series of 72 classificatory scales used in that tradition; its name implies an association with winter. Although probably a relatively recent development (18th or 19th century), and despite its Southern origin, this rag has a distinctly Middle Eastern flavor, due to an augmented interval between the minor third and sharpened fourth degrees (Ga komal - Ma tivra); this interval and the minor seventh (Ni komal) give the rag a pervasive melancholy reminiscent of Persian classical music. Quite foreign to Indian folk music, structures like this perhaps betoken an Indian 'exoticism'. As played here Hemavati emphasizes particularly the second and sixth degrees (Re and Dha), and the parallel descending motifs 7-6 and 3-2 (Ni komal - Dha, Ga komal - Re)

The influence of music from the Islamic world was once strong in both the North and South of India. The sarod owes its very origins to this influence, for it developed in the 19th century from the Afgan rabab, brought to India by Amjad Ali Khan's ancestors. At the same time, three has been much interchange between the classical traditions of North and South India, many rags unique to one system having been borrowed by the other. Amjad Ali Khan's rendering of Hemavati is, however, entirely 'Northern' in style.


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