Sunday, 25 September 2011

Quiero Una Veena

Ideally I'd like two, a vichitra veena and a rudra veena, but then again, I'm a greedy fucking bastard sometimes. Anyway as I don't own either of those two fucking astonishing instruments, and would probably do something deeply fucking wrong with them if I did, here's some proper masters of Hindustani classical music giving it the beens* on those venerable instruments. I should say, if you lack patience you may not want to stick around for the alap sections as they can make Earth sound like speed kings, and fast forward to the fireworks in the latter stages of the performances as they are quite long... Me, I love the snails pace abstraction of the alap, and chance it gives the musicians to dig deep into the sonority of their instruments and the chosen raga before the slowly accruing acceleration and increasing density of the playing and almost telepathic interaction between the musicians makes the listeners head explode at the level of speed and invention on display.

First up is Gopal Shankar Misra's** beautiful rendition of raga Multani on the vichitra veena, the ultimate acoustic bottleneck/slide instrument (on this planet anyway), and the one I covet the most. One day... Anyway, sorry there's no actual footage, but all the vichitra veena videos I can find are pretty short, and this is music so fucking good I can't justify just posting a little bit.

Fortunately, youtube is a little more forthcoming with fantastic rudra veena performances, especially these fucking beauties from Bahauddin Dagar*** and Asad Ali Khan, who both approach the (insanely unwieldy) instrument in very different ways, but both share a fondness for an almost motorik intensity and drive when things get fast.

So here's Bahauddin Dagar playing raga Kousi, one I'm particularly fond of ripping off as there's something inherently spacerock about it when you really go to town on it, and also because, well, just listen to the sound of that fucking thing, the man is a fucking genius. And he does sport a superb gentleman thief's moustache. This is in three parts unfortunately, and whoever uploaded it missed the end, but fuck it, this is way too fucking good not to post, and I couldn't be arsed to download 'em and stitch 'em together.

And finally, the late, great Asad Ali Khan playing ragas Asavari and Dabari, and presenting a more percussive, jawari laden approach than Dagar's almost feedback-like use of resonance and low end. This is also fucking jaw-dropping, I mean, I am in total fucking awe of all three musicians I've featured here, but this is scary fucking good.

I hope you enjoyed the first episode of Yes, I Am Obsessed With Veenas, What Of It? Coming next time, southern India and, wait for it, more types of veena.

*This is both the shittest, and most obscure pun I've yet used in a post. I'm not sorry and I'll do it again.

**If you like this, get his only album, Out Of Stillness (Real World). Yes, it's on Real World, and yes, the cover is a truly horrible 90s oversaturated "spritual"/new age cackjob, but the music is truly fucking sublime.

***A surname in Indian music which pretty much guarantees that the music will be astonishing, regardless of instrument.

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