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coyootie

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I think this will be required reading for all of us into ICM. Quite amazing- this is LOOOONG, settle in with a cup of chai and read the whole thing.
Some of my favorite sections were about Kookies and nocturnal visits of a beautiful mysterious red sari clad woman to Alaudin Khansahib, Ali Akbar's father. There is some really fantastic detail about how raga is learned, practice,and all kindsa wonderful lore about the traditions I've never seen anywhere else.
njjoy, or enyoy as we say here in New Messko.

http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/roho/ucb/text/khan_ali_akbar.pdf
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mhamlin

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Reply with quote  #2 
Thanks so much for posting this interview. I'm enjoying the read immensely.

I'm about half way through. I found Khansahib's analogy between changing microtones and the movement of the sun rather interesting, as it mirrors a conversation in the Dhrupad & Rudra Vina ("Changing Sa" or something like that).
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Raga_Mala

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Reply with quote  #3 
MKhan: How old were you [when you died for several hours and then were resuscitated]?

Khan: Six or seven or eight or something.

HA!

Beautiful soul, Khansahib!

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Nor need we every modern poem blame;
Wise men approve the good, or new, or old;
The foolish critic follows where he's told."
-Kalidas, Malavikagnimitra I.i.2
Trans. Arthur Ryder
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plectum

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Reply with quote  #4 
seventy-five-thousand ragas ?
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Raga_Mala

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Quote:
Originally Posted by "plectum"
seventy-five-thousand ragas ?
Yeah a lot of the numbers in here tend toward a mystical hyperbole. Nothing wrong with it, there are different kinds of truth than merely factual truth.

BUT the implication that he (or even Acharya Allaudin Khansaheb) knew 75,000 times 360 exercises...plus a couple hundred gat's per rag...I find hard to believe, but as I say only in the "factual" sense...

In the poetic/mystical sense, these statements are "true". And sometimes that truth is greater!

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"Not all is good that bears an ancient name,
Nor need we every modern poem blame;
Wise men approve the good, or new, or old;
The foolish critic follows where he's told."
-Kalidas, Malavikagnimitra I.i.2
Trans. Arthur Ryder
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plectum

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Reply with quote  #6 
Don’t get me wrong, I was not being sarcastic.
Quote:
Crawford: How much improvisation is there in the raga?
Khan: Well, it’s not improvisation, actually. There are three-hundred-sixty different kinds of exercises.
I mean that to choose on the spur of the moment, which improvisation to use is not an easy thing, it has to come naturally, you cannot stop and think. I think what you choose on the fly shows your talent, so there is a place for originality after all.

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You know, music, art - these are not just little decorations to make life prettier. They're very deep necessities which people cannot live without. ~~ Pablo Picasso
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Raga_Mala

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Reply with quote  #7 
Question: Is it incumbent on us as socially-conscious human beings to deplore Allaudin Khan's abuse of his family?

We have here some pretty horrible facts--he beat his children, forced his only son to muteness, apparently to carry out some grudge against his own upbringing and his cruel teachers.

This man is venerated like a Saint (I've seen Raviji posing with a portrait or "Baba" where he is depicted as practically having a halo).

Not that, in the flow of time, our disapprobation can do anything to change the fact, but must we also not admit this man was, in some ways, a pretty deplorable man?

His only kindness seems to have been toward animals...

YET, without his stern discipline we would not have the greatness of Ali Akbar Khansaheb.
Do the ends justify the means?

I find some of the accounts of Allaudin's behavior deeply disturbing, but nobody, not the interviewer, not Ali Akbar, nor Raviji or others who have written about Baba, seems to bat an eye at this behavior.

Was this common man-of-the-house behavior in 1930s India? (I'm asking sincerely--I don't know!). It would seem not, since many have singled Allaudin out as having been especially stern or (as Ali Akbar has put it) "short-tempered".

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"Not all is good that bears an ancient name,
Nor need we every modern poem blame;
Wise men approve the good, or new, or old;
The foolish critic follows where he's told."
-Kalidas, Malavikagnimitra I.i.2
Trans. Arthur Ryder
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jaan e kharabat

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Raga_Mala"
I find some of the accounts of Allaudin's behavior deeply disturbing, but nobody, not the interviewer, not Ali Akbar, nor Raviji or others who have written about Baba, seems to bat an eye at this behavior.

Was this common man-of-the-house behavior in 1930s India? (I'm asking sincerely--I don't know!). It would seem not, since many have singled Allaudin out as having been especially stern or (as Ali Akbar has put it) "short-tempered".
Disciplining children by beating is still a common occurrence in non-western societies let alone in Allaudin Khan's time. Though the accounts of him portray him as especially stern in that regard, I don't think that type of behaviour would have been out of the norm in those days. I remember my own grandfathers and some of the stories about them and they don't seem that far removed from AAK's Baba.

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chris thill

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Reply with quote  #9 
Would it be considered extremely disrespectful of a great master, if I suggest that all those stories of tens of thousands of ragas, working 23 hours a day, playing 200 instruments, speaking 6 or 7 languages when 8 years old, being forbidden to speak, commanding to cobras, cannibals eating their parent's bodies, etc., might perhaps need to be taken not too literally ? I stopped maybe at page 15, and the basket of incredible stories is already well filled...
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cabernethy

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That all depends on how broad-minded you are
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chris thill

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Reply with quote  #11 
Every family, even the most ordinary, has its own personal legends. AAK's was certainly not ordinary, going back through many centuries and in close contact with power and wealth. That gives a lot of opportunities for legend to develop and become intertwined with history.

As for "seventy five thousands", I read it as "more than you can think of" ; "working 23 hours a day" as "he never seemed to be tired" ; "commanding to cobras", as "she was afraid of nothing" ; "never being allowed to speak" as "extremely harsh discipline"... I think the corpse-eaters were just miserable hill people, despised as savages by the civilized and educated town-dwellers. Etc...

Also, see how AAK's wife brings a slightly different perspective sometimes. Cobras ? Oh, yes, braided hair that looked like snakes...
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CheesecakeTomek

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Would it be considered extremely disrespectful of a great master, if I suggest that all those stories of... might perhaps need to be taken not too literally ?
I think that if doing so diminishes for you the magic that is in this interview, then no, they should not be.

I certainly caught the comment about the braided hair, but I think there is weight to some of these other references you bring up. The number of conceivable ragas is sky-high, I forget the number my teacher told me once, but I certainly didn' flinch when I read 75,000. However, the number of them that "work well" is much smaller. This is similar to the concept of Svaraprastara, which is a systematic list of every possible note combination, which yields 317,930 ascending combinations. Again, it is a mental exercise, and not all these combinations work well musically.

I don't want to dwell on the cannibals, but the description Khansaheb gives of them is actually sort of beautiful, the concept, anyways.

Much of the rest may be embellished, but you seem to be a good interpretter so don't let it spoil it for you! Think of it in raga terms, all the elaboration and whatnot that creates the magic of this music. His words do the same thing, it's so beautiful, how much he is the essence of the music. There is so much wealth, inspiration, here; I encourage you to finish it!
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plectum

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
We have here some pretty horrible facts--he beat his children, forced his only son to muteness, apparently to carry out some grudge against his own upbringing and his cruel teachers.
What you have here is the truth about “guru-sisya parampara”. In those days the ustads used to mercilessly take advantage of their sagrids. The pupils had to clean the master’s home, cook, go to the market, wash his clothes and god knows do what else, and even after all that the ustad may teach you a little, then again he may not. Just read Bhaskar Bua or Allauddin khan himself's life story for example, to see what they had to put up with.

By contrast Allauddin khan disciplined his pupils only on the account of some perceived laxity in riwaaz. Actually in NB’s interview, he said that Allauddin khan used to go to the market himself so that the student’s time for riwaaz would not be wasted. No one has given an account of him forcing his students to do household chores. And finally, just take a look at his students. His training was so complete that a number of them emerged as top-class musicians. He was strict to the point of being sadistic, but he did teach a lot, something very few others did at his time, or even today.

In case of AAK, I feel that Allauddin khan was especially harsh to him, because while the other students could do with learning only what was relevant to his or her art, AAK had to learn the whole thing that he knew, which meant such gruelling discipline for much, much longer.

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You know, music, art - these are not just little decorations to make life prettier. They're very deep necessities which people cannot live without. ~~ Pablo Picasso
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greenhorn

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Reply with quote  #14 
That Alladin guy sounds like a real knobhead. :evil: I thought the hindi religion was non violent anyway? If I was Ali man I would have kicked his ass, even if he was my dad. Ali's a big guy and looks like he can handle himself.
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panchamkauns

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "greenhorn"
That Alladin guy sounds like a real knobhead. :evil: I thought the hindi religion was non violent anyway? If I was Ali man I would have kicked his ass, even if he was my dad. Ali's a big guy and looks like he can handle himself.
My first objection: Mahatma Gandhi gave many foreigners the idea that Hindus were non-violent — but he was shot dead by a Hindu extremist.

Do you want to guess what my second objection is?

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