The Limping Beauty and the Challenges— Birth of Saptarishi and Peeyush Talas

Note: Please scroll down to read an approximate translation by Dr. Pragya Pyasi, Assistant Professor of Music, University of Hyderabad.

It was early 1995. We all were so much under the overwhelming influences of the four instrument-giants Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Vilayet Khan, and Nikhil Banerjee that our minds were kind of hypnotized state with their influences. The senior musicians, also my Ustadji, in those days knew that I was a kind of non-routine boy.

 In those days I was at Khairagarh, teaching at the University. I was scratching my heads, practicing day and night, and frantically trying to discover more playing spaces for non-routine musical imaginations. My sitar playing was going through a lot of challenges. It was not giving satisfaction. I wanted to reach new horizons but failing. 

I was also listening as much as I could. I was trying to identify the music stars’ performed elements and understand the inherent patterns. Suddenly it clicked that there may be some unexplored space in the tala area. 

In those days it was in active discussions whether a tala with fractional matra is good to be adapted in performances. Many musicians did not appreciate this. They thought these are limping talas. However, music pillars like Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustd. Ali Akbar Khan never cared. These giants and later musicians freely played fractional matra tala-s. I started carefully listening to the recording of these music masters. This exercise helped me to discover that these musicians restricted their imaginations in tala-play to either whole matra talas or talas with a fraction of ½ matra. I found their recitals based on 5 ½, 7 ½, and 8 ½ matra talas. This immediately opened up the scope for more thoughts, some room to flow musical imaginations, and scope for further explorations.

Saptarishi Tala of 9 1/3 matras

Dr. Anil Beohar

I started thinking and immediately thought of other fractions like 1/3, ¼, 1/5, and so on.  I composed two talas; one in 9 1/3 matras and the other in 10 3/4 matras. After composing naming automatically comes as the next step. I discussed this with my musicologist friend Dr. Anil B. Beohar. Anil said that the 9 1/3 beat tala has 7 gurus and 7 akshar kAla in tisra jAti laghu. So he named it Saptarishi because of the multiple presences of the number 7 in the construction of the tala. I thought this a wonderful idea. I agreed to name this 9 1/3 beat tala as Saptarishi. The other tala was named on my father’s name and that became Peeyush tala of 10 ¾ matra.

Dhi- –   na- – | Dhi- –  Dhi- –  na- –  | Ti- –    na – –  | Titina   DhinaDhi  na|

X 2 0 3

Dhi- –

X

Note: As this is a tala that takes a fraction of 1/3 the notation has to be written showing three spaces for each matra for easier communication.

Peeyush Tala of 10 ¾ matra

Dhi  na | Dhi  Dhi  na  | Ti  na  | Dhina DhiDhi na-,Dhina DhiDhina |Dhi

X          2                           0             3                                                                X

Note: Please note that the 8th and the 9th matra is going in 2 times laya when the next matras are in 4 times laya.                                       

Sanjoy Bandopadhyay (sitar) and Abhijit Banerjee (tabla) at Indian International Centre New Delhi on 10 October 1995

I gave the first performance in the Saptarishi tala with my dear Abhijit Banerjee on the tabla. That was the autumn of 1995. Abhijit came to me after a concert with Pt. Ajay Chakraborty in Taj Festival in Agra. He came to my aunt’s B-382 CR Park residence. Abhijit took some rest and then we sat for practicing. I composed a gat in Rageshree based on Saptarishi tala. We prepared for the next evening’s concert. I played the Sapatarshi composition at the  India International Centre, New Delhi on 10 October 1995, the formal beginning of the journey of a new musical dimension. Here is a tiny excerpt from the concert.

Rageshree in 9 1/3 mantra Saptarishi Tala by Sanjoy Bandopadhyay (sitar). Abhijit Banerjee on Tabla.
Sanjoy Bandopadhyay with Pt. Birju Maharaj after Lucknow concert. Mukund Bhale on the right.

Later, I played this tala in other concerts. One of the important music programs was in Lucknow. It was organized by the UP Sangeet Natak Academy in Lucknow. I was privileged to have Pandit Birju Maharaj as a listener. Mukund Bhale gave me tabla support. Maharajji loved the recital a lot.

Earlier on the same day, we also recorded a piece based on Saptarishi tala in All India Radio, Lucknow. This was again full of excitement. We all know that Lucknow is the fort of Tabla playing. The radio station wanted some good tabla player from the city provides me tabla support. But I strongly urged and persuaded that Mukund should provide me tabla support. Lucknow is a city of reverence to any Hindustani Musician. That was the reason that I wished to record something special. I wished that I play a piece based on Saptarishi tala of 9 1/3 beats. I tried to convince the AIR Programme Executive that Mukund and I played several concerts and it will be good if the radio station permits me to opt for Mukund. At this, the tabla players around got upset and very angry. But finally, they accepted it. 

I recorded with Mukund in the presence of a good number of eminent tabla artists. I must thank all of them for their kindness and understanding.

खंड में सौन्दर्य सृजन- सप्तऋषि एवं पीयूष ताल

भावानुवाद : प्रज्ञा प्यासी

संगीत के क्षेत्र में समर्पित मेरे व्यक्तिगत जीवन के वे अध्याय जो मुझे आज भी निरंतर क्रियाशील रहकर नित्य नवीन अन्वेषण एवं सृजन के सोपानों की ओर प्रेरित करते हैं, उन पर , अपने शिष्यों, विद्यार्थियों, संगीत रसिकों , एवं समीक्षकों से चर्चा करने में,  मैं आज भी आनंद की  अनुभूति करता हूँ|
मेरे स्मृतिपटल में आज वर्ष 1995 के आसपास का कालखंड पुनः जीवंत हो रहा है, जब लगभग सम्पूर्ण विश्व में भारतीय संगीत के चार दिग्गज वादकों – पं. रवि शंकर, उ.अली अकबर खान , उ. विलायत खान एवं पं. निखिल बनर्जी के चमत्कारिक प्रभाव से दिव्य सम्मोहन छाया था | ऐसे समय में मेरे उस्ताद पंडित राधिका मोहन मित्रा समेत सभी वरिष्ठ संगीतज्ञ इस बात से भली भांति परिचित थे, कि परम्पराओं के प्रति निष्ठा रखने के पश्चात भी, पूर्व निर्मित राजपथ के अनुसरण मात्र से ही मैं संतुष्ट होने वाला नहीं हूँ| 
      उन दिनों मैं खैरागढ़ विश्वविद्यालय में कार्यरत  था| दिन रात अभ्यास और गहन चिंतन द्वारा मैं चेष्टा कर रहा था कि, निर्धारित एवं नियमित सांगीतिक  कल्पनाओं के अतिरिक्त भी नवीन आयामों की खोज की जाए। सितार वादन की दृष्टि से यह अत्यंत चुनौतीपूर्ण था और मैं इस स्थिति से कदापि संतुष्ट नहीं था| अपने वादन को एक नवीन क्षितिज तक पहुंचाने की मेरी  इच्छा निरंतर असफल हो रही थी। मैं अधिक से अधिक संगीत सुनकर  विशिष्ट संगीतज्ञों के प्रदर्शन में निहित श्रेष्ठ तत्वों एवं प्रतिमानों को भी समझने का प्रयास कर रहा था| इस समयांतराल में अचानक विचार आया कि ताल के क्षेत्र में कुछ नवाचारी संरचनागत सौंदर्य या नव सृजन की संभावना हो सकती है| 

उन दिनों संगीत जगत में यह विचारणीय प्रश्न भी चर्चा में था कि, “भिन्नात्मक” मात्राओं के तालों को प्रदर्शनों में व्यावहारिक रूप से प्रयोग किया जाये अथवा नहीं| जो संगीतज्ञ इसके पक्ष में नहीं थे, उनके विचार से ये लंगड़े ताल थे| हालाँकि पंडित रवि शंकर एवं उस्ताद अली अकबर खान जैसे संगीत स्तंभों ने इस बात की परवाह न करते हुए ना केवल उन्मुक्त रूप से भिन्नातमक तालों का वादन किया  वरन अन्य कलाकारों ने भी उनका अनुसरण करते हुए भिन्नात्मक तालों के प्रचार को गति प्रदान की| मैंने इन कलाकारों की रिकॉर्डिंग्स को ध्यान से सुनना आरम्भ किया, और इस निष्कर्ष पर पहुंचा कि कलाकारों ने अपनी कल्पना को या तो पूर्ण मात्रा वाले तालों या फिर आधी मात्रा के छंद तक ही सीमित रखा है| उनकी प्रस्तुतियों में 5 ½, 7 ½, एवं 8 ½ मात्रा के ताल ही शामिल थे| अंततः इस अनुसंधान ने सांगीतिक कल्पनाओं के विस्तार एवं सृजनात्मक चिंतन की असीम संभावनाओं  के द्वार खोल दिए| 

9 1/3 मात्रा का सप्तऋषि ताल

कुछ समय मंथन के पश्चात ही 1/3, ¼, 1/5 के छंदों  (फ्रैक्शन) की कल्पना  उभरने लगी और शीघ्र ही 9 1/3 एवं 10 ¾ मात्राओं के दो तालों का जन्म हुआ| तालों के सृजन के पश्चात नामांकन के लिए मैंने अपने सहकर्मी, संगीतशास्त्री डॉ. अनिल ब्योहार के साथ चर्चा की| उन्होंने बताया कि 9 1/3 मात्रा के ताल में सात गुरु एवं तिस्र जाति लघु में सात अक्षर काल हैं | अतः ताल निर्माण की प्रक्रिया में सात की संख्या का बारम्बार प्रयोग होने के कारण इस ताल का नामकरण उन्होंने “सप्त ऋषि ” किया| मैं उनके मत से प्रभावित हुआ और सप्तऋषि नाम के लिए अपनी सहमति जता दी| दूसरे ताल को मैंने अपने पिताजी को समर्पित किया और इस प्रकार 10 ¾ मात्रा का पीयूष ताल अस्तित्व में आया|

प्रथम औपचारिक प्रस्तुति 

10 अक्टूबर 1995 को इंडिया इंटरनेशनल सेंटर, नई दिल्ली में सप्तर्षि ताल की प्रस्तुति के साथ मेरी सांगीतिक यात्रा के नवीन आयाम का औपचारिक अनावरण हुआ। इस कार्यक्रम में मैंने सप्तर्षि ताल पर आधारित रागश्री में एक गत का वादन किया| तबले पर संगति हेतु इस प्रथम प्रदर्शन में मेरे प्रिय तबला वादक अभिजीत बनर्जी ने बखूबी मेरा साथ निभाया। 

उक्त कार्यक्रम का एक छोटा सा अंश यहाँ प्रस्तुत है।

इसके बाद मैंने इस ताल को अन्य संगीत कार्यक्रमों में भी बजाया। लखनऊ के एक महत्वपूर्ण कार्यक्रम का उल्लेख करना मुझे यहाँ उचित प्रतीत हो रहा है, जिसका आयोजन उत्तर प्रदेश संगीत नाटक अकादमी द्वारा किया गया था। इस कार्यक्रम में श्रोता के रूप में पंडित बिरजू महाराज की उपस्थिति एवं उनके द्वारा प्रशंसा पाना एक अविस्मरणीय अनुभूति थी । इस कार्क्रम में पंडित मुकुंद भाले ने तबला संगति प्रदान की। 

कार्यक्रम से पहले उसी दिन प्रातः, मुकुंद जी के साथ मैंने आकाशवाणी, लखनऊ में सप्तऋषि ताल पर आधारित एक अंश भी रिकॉर्ड किया था। हालाँकि इस रिकॉर्डिंग के लिए मुझे लखनऊ के अन्य तबला वादकों की नाराज़गी का सामना भी करना पड़ा| लखनऊ तबला वादकों का गढ़ है और आकाशवाणी के अधिकारी चाहते थे की शहर के तबला वादकों में से कोई मेरी संगत करे| मेरा आग्रह था कि मुकुंद जी हीमुझे तबला समर्थन प्रदान करें क्योंकि मैं 9 1/3 मात्रा  के सप्तऋषि ताल पर आधारित रचना की प्रस्तुति चाहता था। अंततः मुकुंद जी के साथ ही रिकॉर्डिंग संपन्न हुई और अन्य तबला वादकों का क्रोध भी किसी प्रकार शांत हुआ|

Anil Madhyam

Note: This was originally posted on January 5, 2012 by sitardivine

Sanjoyda talks about the birth of Anil-Madhyam. “It was coldish 26 December… six notes came to me whispering.. I started humming… immediately started to love them.  I called Dilip [Mukherjee] on his cell phone ‘Dilip, sandhyebelaa free aachho? Tumi ele aktu jantar niye bastaam’ [Dilip, are you free this evening? If you come then I would like to sit with my instrument]. Dilip readily agreed.

In the evening after playing a bit of Bihag I thought of the six notes.. I tuned my tarab strings and started strumming. Dilip immediately reacted.. “ Sanjoyda, sundar lagchhe to! Ki raag?” [Sanjoyda, this is sounding beautiful! What is the raga?]”

Sanjoyda chose to play Anil-Madhyam at the 01 January 2012 evening concert to celebrate the birth-centenary of Acharya Anil Roychaudhury. Listen how he introduced the raga. He spoke in Bengali. Here is what he said… 

Enjoy the rendering … 

 Raga details

  • Name of the raga: Anil-Madhyam
  • Conceptualized by: Pt. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay on 24 December 2011
  • First performed by Pt. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay on the sitar on 01 January 2012 in a concert organized by Vistar as a tribute to Acharya Anil Roychaudhury during his birth-cenetenary celebration.

Notation system
Shudh svaras in Caps: SRGMPDN
Vikrit svaras in smalls: r g m d n
Tar saptak : S’ R’ G’ M’ etc
Mandra saptak: N1 D1 P1 etc.

Raga: Anil-Madhyam

Arohan: S R g m P n S’

Avarohan: S’ n P m g R S

Pakad: R n1 S, RgPm

Important note focus: Tivra-m

Chalan:

  1. R n1 S g S, R g P m
  2. P1 n1 P1, m1 P1 S
  3. P1 n1 g R n1  m1 P1 S
  4. P1 n1 R, S g S, R n1 S, P1 m1
  5. n1 S R g m, S g R n1 P1
  6. S R g m P m
  7. g m P n g,  R g m R, S g S, n1 g R, S R g P m
  8. R n1 S R g m P n – P
  9. m P S’, R’ S’ n – P
  10. P n R’, P n g’ R’ S’
  11. R g m P n S’ R’ g’ R’ S’
  12. S’ n P m g R S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahiri Marwa and Pt. Buddhadev Dasgupta

Note: This was originally posted on March29, 2014.

On the day before yesterday [27 Mar 2014] at the ‘Vistar’ program Buddhada [Padmabhushan Pt. Buddhadev Dasgupta] suddenly asked me if I knew ‘Ahiri Marwa’ [আহীরী মারোয়া জানিস?]. I said, no, I did not learn any rag named ‘Ahiri Marwa’ [না শিখিনি]. Next evening when I came back home with Dilip [Dilip Mukherjee, a wonderful tabla player and an excellent human being] and went straight to my riyaz-room. Suddenly I remembered Buddhada saying “আহীরী মারোয়া জানিস?” I thought why not try mixing some components of ‘Ahir Bhairav’ [frankly I have not learned Ahiri, but had the opportunity to listen to this raga from Pt. Balaram Pathak many years back… But I don’t remember anything and was not in a mood to consult any book to find out the raga details] and went straight working on blending the components of D1nr component of ‘Ahir Bhairav’ and ‘Marwa’ in the ‘rGMD’ region and playing phrases skipping ‘n’. It gave me a good feel.. I thought why not record it? I grabbed an audio recorder and pressed the red button and here it is… Today, before putting the raga for your evaluation I searched the google with “Ahiri Marwa” and did not come with any result. I think this might be also named as ‘Komal Marwa’ too. Listen and comment if you have time… It remained to be asked to Buddhada how he asked me on ‘Ahiri Marwa’, did he listen to it anywhere or contemplating on composing such a raga. In any case, it was fun to blend these two ragas of completely different moods and almost opposite playing times.

A depiction of Ahiri Marwa is available in Pt. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay’s Music Album titled ‘rare Ragas on the Sitar’.

————————————————–

March 29, 2014

This was posted in Facebook. Here are some interesting comments…

Uma Shankar Sharma asks: What will be time to play this raga?

SB replies: This is a good question. Firstly I played this for fun and wanted to feel how the combination of these two ragas sounds. I don’t know if the raga has been already composed by somebody and so on. If you ask me, then I would tell you that, it all depends on how this raga will get expressed by the performer. If you take this as a ‘Mishra Raga’ then a musician can highlight either the Ahiri part ore the Marwa parts. If someone makes the ‘Ahiri’ effectively prominent then it should be played in the morning and vice-versa. I find the probable application of Komal-re very interesting as you have altogether different komal-re for these two component ragas. I hope you enjoyed raga textures…

Anindya Banerjee:  We have learnt Ahiri Bhatiyar from Khansahib, where there is little resemblance with Marwa and Ahiri

 Sanjoy Bandopadhyay @Anindya Banerjee The reason possibly is, Bhatiyar and Marwa have similarities. Does ‘Ahiri Bhariyar’ take both the Madhyamas? Here, I used only ‘Tivra m’ for ‘Ahiri Marwa’. I also proposed a name for the raga ‘Komal Marva’.

Tim Hoffman: Thanks for the info on a vital process such as has throughout history of Hindustani music given the world some of its most interesting modal forms.  [March 30, 2014 at 8:58am]

A sketch discovered after 45 years…

This was originally posted on August 7, 2012. Then my Mejdi was happy, glad and constantly putting her full energy to keep us all happier with her glowing presence. We are not ready to accept that not seeing is missing her! Since July 22 2019 the feel of her presence, in a sense, has been getting stronger! – Bublu, Gangtok | March 22, 2020

I was trying to understand how to digitize books, studying the DIY Book-Scanner that Google adopted for digitizing millions of books [DIY is the acronym for ‘Do It Yourself’]. I managed somehow to erect a home set-up. Yes, the book stand made of cardboard, one camera and so on. I was trying the software that I would use for digitizing.

I wanted to try the set-up and first laid my hand on a sitar-notebook, my first one that was mostly written by my Guru Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra. I discovered a loose leaf inside the notebook. This was already brittle. There was grocery list on one side and the other side showed a pen-sketch. I got excited! Someone drew my sketch!!

I liked the pen-lines. A simple ball point pen was used. ‘Bublu’ was written on the work. ‘Bublu’ is one of my pet names. I was not sure about the artist and started conjecturing. The drawing gave me the impression that it was done when I was around twelve year old. I thought I recognized the handwriting, I thought it was Mejdi’s. The other possibility was Chhordi. I was not sure. But they did not remember anything! Finally, Chhordi came and saw the sketch and ascertained that it was Mejdi’s handwriting…

Mejdi, Sushanta Siromoni [2010]

Mejdi loved to sketch, when she was young, during her school and college days. She did not have any formal training. But, she saw her aunt [Pishi] at work, who was a serious artist. I am glad that at least one of Mejdi’s work-specimen got discovered by chance. She almost forgot that she used to sketch for the sheer love of it.. This piece of art has been waiting for 45 years to be get rediscovered..! Thanks to DIY project!!!

A Poetic Praise

Pt. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay gave a sitar solo recital at his workplace Rabindra Bharati University. The program was arranged on February 26, 2012 at the Uday Shankar Hall at Emerald Bower Campus to observe the sesquicentennial birthday celebration of Swami Vivekananda. Professor Bandopadhyay played Shudh-Sarang and a dhun based on the Tagore song ‘Megher kole rod hesechhe..’ ..  The recital received very warm appreciations from the audiences.. Sanjoyjee’s colleague Dr. Bidyut Kanti Chaudhury, who is a natural poet and gives outlets to his expressions through poems, could not retain himself and immediately grabbed a piece of worn out paper and wrote a few lines. Later he gave it to Panditjee in a fresh new piece of paper.. We liked the poetry and take the opportunity to share with you.. the poetry by Dr. Bidyut Kanti Chaudhury on Pt. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay..

৬০ পেরিয়ে

৬০ পার করাটা অনেক চেষ্টা করেও শেষ পর্যন্ত আটকানো গেলনা| কুষ্ঠিতে ছিলনা তাও পৌঁছেই গেলাম|এগার বছর বয়সেই সটকে যাবার কথা ছিল, তার জায়গায় ষাট! অতএব এ পর্যন্ত ৪৯ বছর ফাউ| ফাউ সবারই ভালো লাগে, সত্যি বলতে কি আমারও অল্প অল্প লাগে| জন্মদিনের দুদিন আগে জানতে পারলাম আমার শ্রীমতীজী কিছু একটা ফাঁদছেন, টের পেলাম উনি ছাত্র-ছাত্রীদের সাথেও কথাবার্তা বলছেন| ১৬ সেপ্টেম্বর সকালে ওঠার পরই তাড়াতাড়ি ইউনিভার্সিটি থেকে ঘরে ফেরার ফরমান জারী হল|

বিকেল সাড়ে-চারটে নাগাদ বাড়ী ফিরে দেখি সাবির সেই বর্ধমান থেকে আমার আগেই হাজির| এরপর আস্তে আস্তে অন্যরাও হাজির হল| ত্রৈলী সেই হাওড়া থেকে সাবির এর পর-পরই চলে এল | একটু পর ঢুকল সুমেধা| এর মাঝে সাবির আর অনির্বান টুক করে গাড়ী নিয়ে বেরিয়ে গিয়ে কিছু বিশালাকায় পাত্রে খাবার নিয়ে চলে এসেছে| নভনীল, বাড়ীতে শোকের পরিবেশ থাকা সত্তেও, অল্প সময়ের জন্য চলে এসেছিল| ওকে পেয়ে আমাদের খুব ভাল লেগেছিল| সন্ধে গড়িয়ে গেলে এল দীপঙ্কর, অনুশ্রী আর তাদের ছোট্ট মিষ্টি মেয়ে| মাঝে বনুদি আর অঞ্জনদা| একটু রাত করেই দিলীপ আর সপরিবার পরিমল ঢুকল| সবশেষে এল সুজু, অরুন আর পুকলাই| ওরা যখন এলো তখন পার্টি বেশ জমজমাট| অনির্বাণ সরোদ নিয়ে বাজনার ঘরে বাজিয়ে চলেছে| মাঝের বড় ঘরে গান, হাসাহাসি, কবিতা| আর মা’র ঘরে অঞ্জনদা, বনুদি আর পরে জুড়ল আমার মেয়ে মিম্মাই| সেখানেও চলছে নানা মজার মজার গল্প-গুজব| আর অন্য ঘরগুলো? সেখানে ঢাই করা জিনিস-পত্র, প্রয়োজনে আমরা সেখানে গিয়ে কাজ করে বেরিয়ে আসছি| সব মিলিয়ে এক অদ্ভুত খুশীর মেজাজ| শব্দ নানা ধরনের হলেও তাতে ঠোকাঠুকি নেই| চলুক না আলাদা স্কেলে সরোদ আর গান| গানের পেছনে মৃদু সরোদের আওয়াজ, কখনও বা রান্নাঘর থেকে বাসনের শব্দ, সব আওয়াজই যেন মিলেমিশে খুশীর ছবি এঁকে চলেছে| ওই ছবিই কিছুটা ধরে রাখার চেষ্টা করেছি এই ছোট্ট ভিডিও তে| পার্টি যখন শেষ হল তখন আমার গিন্নির জন্মদিন ১৭ সেপ্টেম্বর ছুঁয়ে পরের দিন সকাল দু’টো!

আমরা সবাই মিস করলাম সুবীর, কর্নজিত, আয়ুষ, রাজরূপা, সুহাস, বিট্টু আর কুশলকে| কেউ বা ষ্টুডিও-তে আটকা, কেউ বা সেদিনই বিদেশ পারি দিল, কেউ আছে দেশের বাইরে বা কারুর বাড়ীতে পুজো| আর মিস করেছি তরাই, দেবাশিস আর তুলুকে|

 ঐদিন তোলা অল্প কিছু ছবি এই ছোট্ট এলবামে রাখা রইল|