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Perfect sync: Indian classical musicians talk about their instruments

Renowned Indian classical musicians talk about the special relationships they share with their instruments.

music Updated: May 11, 2013 16:12 IST
Soumya Vajpayee
Soumya Vajpayee
Hindustan Times

May 4 was an unfortunate day for tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. “Sad day for me, my tabla was stolen in transit between Istanbul, Paris and Rennes, it was taken from the case, was my dad’s tabla,” (sic.) tweeted Hussain, about his loss. All musicians share a special relationship with their instruments, especially those they’ve possessed for decades. Here, Indian classical music legends talk about this bond and share their anecdotes.

‘My flute is my religion’
Pandit HariPrasad Chaurasia, flute

“Music for me resides in my flute. My instrument guides me. It’s my religion. It’s one of the most affordable musical instruments and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Many times, my flute has cracked during a performance because of which I have had to call off the concert. But now I carry multiple flutes with me.”

‘I rarely allow anyone to carry it’
Pandit ShivKumar Sharma, santoor

“My father and guru Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma introduced me to the santoor. This instrument is the medium of expressing my feelings through melody and rhythm. After playing it for six decades, it has become my companion in my musical journey. Santoor was never a part of the Indian classical genre; it was only limited to Sufi music in Kashmir. But I modified the instrument to bring it on par with the sitar and the sarod. Once, during a performance in the 1960s with Brij Bhushan Kabra in Ahmedabad, my santoor sustained a crack. But surprisingly, after I got it repaired, it sounded better than before. I’m so possessive about my santoor that I rarely allow anybody to carry it. I care for it like my own child.”

‘My heart bleeds when I check-in my sarod’
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, sarod

“Sarod is my strength and my life’s greatest treasure. The long lineage and legacy of the sarod convinced me to take it up. The sound of this instrument is unique. I remember when I heard a sitar-sarod duet for the first time, I was sad that the sitar sounded technically superior. From that day, my commitment and dedication became stronger to make the sarod more expressive. Now it has become a popular musical instrument in our country. As far as my own sarod is concerned, I’m very possessive about it. My heart bleeds every time I check-in my sarod during flights.”

First Published: May 11, 2013 12:17 IST