Sunday, February 22, 2009

The sitar and the tabla are a great couple!

They are a great couple. I have admired their companionship and ability to speak to each other for years. They get better with age. The longer they are together, the more mesmerising their togetherness becomes - almost like, old wine in new bottle. I had another reconfirmation to this intriguing couple yesterday evening, when they came together at the Bangalore Habba - courtesy Anoushka Shankar and Tanmay Bose.

I am not referring to a pair of human beings and their love story here, but am talking about the fantastic symbiosis between the sitar and the tabla. They have fascinated me since a tender age, and I have only grown to appreciate them more as I have grown older myself! There is something amazingly soothing about them, operating together - seems to bring a certain peace; a vast reservoir of love, alive; a full expression to latent talents; a fantastic mode of expressing oneself; an uncomplicated, unadulterated kind of companionship, with no malicious intent beneath. They just enjoy each other's company. I find it thoroughly enjoyable!

The strings of the sitar are really one of a kind and that 'tone' of the tabla sends me into a different zone - I almost forget myself & the things around me, when I listen to them together. The variety of the pitch that the strings of the sitar bring out, gel so well with the adjusting beats of the tabla. It is seriously thrilling to note that when the tabla-wadak (player) shakes his head vigourously and pounds with melody on his magical 'drummy' instrument, the crowd just focuses on the phenomenal expression on display. Even the sitar player constantly gazes at the tabla-wadak and appreciates his energy!

And when the sitar hums its different tunes in different types of music, it’s amazing how the tabla can adapt itself to such diversity. Be it classical, carnatic, hindustani, western classical, fusion music or even jazz - the ability of the sitar to hit the highest/lowest pitches and hit you at the deepest corners are brilliantly tied in with the ability of the tabla to keep the beat of the music at a steady/high/low pace. It changes your mood. It makes you feel extremely good. And it just makes you appreciate how versatile these 2 magnificent instruments really are.

Possibly, the best thing I like is the exchange of smiles between the sitar player and the tabla-wadak ever few seconds during a concert. A lot goes on in exchanging those smiles - musical knowledge, indication of a change of tune, pure appreciation for each other's talent, hints to create a variation within the existing tune, you name it. (I am not a sitar player or a tabla-wadak, and am only guessing logically from what I have seen on stage!).

They are a great couple. Just makes your heart dance to their tunes- and it is one of the few things worth listening to, every now & then. The standing ovations are really earned...

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