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Just music

Kishori Amonkar’s notes soared, refused to be tied down to any school or style

By: Editorial |
Updated: April 5, 2017 12:05:04 am

The power of Hindustani classical vocalist Kishori Amonkar’s Bhoop, the tenderness of her Bhairavi and her reflective and brooding Puriya Dhanashree were unmatched in a tradition that has seen many geniuses. They were ethereal explorations that will continue to mark her presence among the living. Amonkar is no more, but her notes — living, breathing, incredible, inconceivable — will stay, as long as music lives.

Daughter of the iconic Mogubai Kurdikar, who learnt from Ustad Alladiya Khan, the founder of the Jaipur Atrauli gharana, her musical training included honing a voice that travelled three octaves with ease and flourish. It gave her the skill to discover and deliver micro-notes (shrutis) in the tradition of the gharana. She also learnt from Anwar Hussain Khan of Agra gharana, Anjanibai Malpekar of Bhendi Bazar gharana, Sharadchandra Arolkar of Gwalior gharana and Goa’s stalwart Balkrishnabuwa Parwatkar. But she refused to let her music be confined by the boundaries of any gharana. She wanted to learn music in its pure, fluid essence, not tied down by any school or style. In the tradition-bound realm of Hindustani music, that would be deemed blasphemous. But Amonkar did things her way, even if that meant being called arrogant and temperamental.

Two days ahead of her death, she was scolding her students to understand the nuances of Malkauns. Perhaps the end came in the way she would have wanted it to. She never liked anyone to know that she was in distress. For an artiste who was so particular about every shruti she put to music, Amonkar went away without any warning signs, no conversations around death. A week earlier, she had performed in Delhi and promised to return soon.

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First published on: 05-04-2017 at 12:05:03 am
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