Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kashmiri Folk Music and Dance

Indian Folk Music offers you information about the music and folk dances of Jammu and Kashmir. The themes of folk songs range from the yearning for reunion with ones lover, the hard mountain life and songs for festivals and other occasions. The people of Ladakh have a rich tradition of dance, music and drama.

The mask dance performed by the lamas at the Hemis monastery, Ladakh for example, during the Hemis festival is representative of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition of the victory of good over evil.

The Hafiza dance form is very popular. This dance form is usually performed at wedding ceremonies. Another very popular Kashmiri dance form that is extremely popular is the Bacha Nagma, which is performed during the harvest season by young boys.

Ruf and Wuegi-nachun are popular Kashmiri folk dances. The Roul and Dogri are popular folk dances that are performed by Kashmiri women.

The most popular Kashmiri folk music is known as the Rabab. The dukra, sitar and nagara are popular musical instruments.

As far as forms of music in Kashmir is concerned there are three distinct forms, viz. Sufi, ghazals and choral music.

Wanawun is another form of music that is sung and played during wedding ceremonies in Kashmir.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Santoor Virtuoso and Music Composer

Santoor and Bhajan Sopori are synonymous. Born in a family of musicians of ‘Sufiana Gharana’ of Kashmir, Pandit Bhajan Sopori, the Legendary Santoor maestro and Music Composer has been the pioneer in bringing Santoor on National and International platforms at par with Sitar and Sarod in Tantrakari and boles and giving it the honour and prestige of a complete concert instrument. Rendition of Dhrupad Ang on Santoor with the accompaniment of Pakhawaj, attaching Tumba (Gaud), introducing ‘Meend’ and ‘Glides’, ‘Gamak’, balancing of Kalam (strikers) with boles, etc. are also a part of his innovations combining to form a style of playing Santoor known as ‘Sopori Baaj’ (style) for which he is hailed as the “Saint of Santoor” and the “King of Strings”.

Pandit Bhajan Sopori was initiated into Santoor playing by his Grand father Pandit S.C. Sopori and later by his father Pandit S.N. Sopori, the veteran musician of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, under whom he had rigorous training that provided him a strong traditional base of Raga-Sangeet combining both the Gayaki and Tantrakari styles in his instrument. His recitals demonstrate a high technical virtuosity. His intricate legendary Layakari, Chandhkari and speedy Taan patterns running through three octaves and melodious Alaap leave a scintillating effect on the listeners.

A highly learned person, Pandit Bhajan Sopori did his Masters both in Santoor and Sitar besides having Masters degree in English literature. He also studied Western Classical Music at the Washington University, USA.

Pandit Bhajan Sopori’s research on sound and his instrument Santoor are remarkable. Pharmaceutical companies have released his albums on ‘sound therapy’. One of the highly commended albums, which have had tremendous effects on the listeners, is ‘Naad Yoga on Santoor’.

Pandit Bhajan Sopori is a widely traveled person having propagated Indian Classical music and culture all over the world by going to the remotest places and creating interest for the Indian classical music amongst the general public especially the youth.

Pandit Bhajan Sopori, a Music Composer of repute is the only Classical musician of India having composed music for more than 4000 songs in almost all the languages of the country including Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, etc. He has composed music for films, commercials, documentaries, serials, operas, chorals, Orchestras, etc. He has been the youngest composer to compose for the National Orchestra (Vadya Vrinda).

He has revived and re-composed the INA songs for the National integration and unity of the country. He has composed Anti-Terrorism songs for different Television networks and ‘All India Radio’ like “Savdhan”, “Mere Jannath Mere Kashmir”, etc. Some of his very popular songs, which are loved by the people of all age groups have been sung by almost all the eminent playback singers. These include: “Hum Hoonge Kamyab”, “Bharat Bharat, Hum Iske Santan”, “Kadam Kadam Bhadaye Ja”, “Sarfoshi Ke Tamanna”, “Vijayee Vishwa Tringa Pyara”, “Vande Matram”, “Bharat Ke Beti”, “Naman Tujko Mere Bharat”, etc. and “Saare Jahan Se Aachaa” which has been sung and played by various eminent Classical musicians of the country. His Instrumental Version of ‘Vande Matram’ leaves a soothing impact on the listeners.

His Religious Hymns and Vedic Chanting of Sheloka’s, Mantra’s, Naats, Guru-bani, etc. are unparallel like ‘Mahamritunjaya’, ‘Durga Kavach’, ‘Surya Upasana’, etc. His recitals and compositions have proved to be a trendsetter in the North Indian Musical Scenario of the country.

Pandit Bhajan Sopori has composed and introduced three new Raga’s:
Raga Laleshwari, Raga Patwanti and Raga Nirmalranjani.

After 13 years of militancy in the valley, he has been the only Classical Musician to go back to Kashmir to revive the Indian Classical Music amongst the masses by his concert in the state.

Pandit Sopori’s contribution to the society as a Classical Musician, Music Composer and Musicologist is enormous for which he has been honoured with numerous awards including the prestigious:
  • Padma Shri, 2004
  • Sangeet Natak Academy Award, 1993
  • Delhi Telugu Academy Award,
  • Akashwani Annual Awards,
  • Beenkar Samman,
  • Abhinav Kala Samman,
  • Punjab Sakha Award,
  • Shardha Samman,
  • Shiromani Award,
  • Kala Yogi Award,
  • Delhi Ratan Award,
  • Distinguished leadership award,
  • Shree Bhatt Kirti Award,
  • Munnu Guru Sangeet Award,
  • Shama Award,
  • Golden Jubilee Celebrations Award (AIR-Srinagar) for his contribution to Kashmiri music and society,
  • Honoured by Kashmiri Overseas Association (USA) for his contribution towards preserving Kashmiri Art & Music and his dedication to community service.
  • Honoured by ‘Kashmiri Samiti-J&K’ and KOA for his contribution to the Kashmiri Art & Music and community service.
  • Also Honoured with the National Flag of the Arab Republic of Egypt,
  • And many more…
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