Veena Sahasrabuddha sings an incredible version of Shudh Sarang, stirring up the sweet and rustic mood of this beautiful early afternoon raga. Building highways through the phrases, she illuminates the teevra madhyam (sharp 4th) with intense evocativeness, establishing the framework of the raga immediately and with authority.
Sahasrabuddhe’s renditions flower in the madhyalay compositions because of her tonal richness and majesty. She builds up a wonderful climax in an unhurried, uninterrupted manner with steady development of the raga through swaras and soulful taans. The rendition is embellished by the soft, thoughtful thekas of Sanju Sahai. Tofail Ahmad keeps it low key but melodious, allowing Sahasrabuddhe to plumb Shudh Sarang to the core with detailed elaboration of its phrases.
She ends this recital with a stunning tarana, a composition by Pandit Balwantrai Bhatt, the great composer from the Gwalior gharana.
About the raag:
Though its name suggests that this is the pure (shudh) version of Sarang and therefore, the oldest of this group of ragas, history reveals that till the early 20th century, this raga did not have a clear understanding and various musicians treated it differently. Shuddha Sarang belongs to Kalyan Thaat and deploys teevra Ma (sharp 4th). Usually ragas belonging to Sarang group are assigned to Kafi Thhaat (parent scale); but Shudh Sarang, due to all it shudh swaras in company with teevra Ma is, very logically assigned to Kalyan thaat. Some musicians employ Komal Ni (flat 7th), some omit Shuddh Dha (pure 6th) while some take the liberty of deploying both the madhyams chromatically, one after the other. This raga’s easy-going persona exudes peace.
Veena Sahasrabuddhe (1948-2016) was an esteemed Hindustani classical vocalist. Her unique style drew from the Kirana and Jaipur gharanas as well as her university degree in Literature & Vocal Performance, and was showcased on over 40 albums throughout her lifetime. She found ample time to teach despite a successful performance career, demonstrating Indian music to schoolchildren and serious students alike.
Precise, powerful, and intricately funky, Sahai embodies the Benares tabla gharana. As the sixth generation of his family’s illustrious rhythm lineage, his talent was recognised early - at age 9 he was playing major festivals, and completed his music degree at 13 with a Masters following at 18. He is mindful of diluting classical tabla styles, but this has not stopped him taking them into a breath-taking array of contexts. Alongside accompanying top Hindustani musicians, he has collaborated with artists spanning flamenco and jazz to opera and Gregorian chant. He has played in schools and prisons as well as for the Queen, and tutors tabla at SOAS in London. Today he lives in the UK, and travels the globe as a star accompanist and soloist.
Tofail Ahmad hails from Bangladesh. He started taking lessons from Ustad Kamruzzaman on the tabla and vocal music from Pandit Anil Kumar Shaha in Dhaka, Bangladesh. With complete dedication and perseverance, he was awarded the prestigious ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) Scholarship to study North Indian Classical Music in Delhi. He is currently settled in the UK.
Veena Sahasrabuddhe (khayal)
Sanju Sahai (tabla)
Tofail Ahmad (harmonium)
Priya Parkash (tanpura)
Shobhana Patel (tanpura)
Raag Shudh Sarang