North Indian Classical Musician,
Composer & Educationalist

Baluji playing sitar

Classical Indian Music

Baluji offers concerts in any of the options below or combinations of options including duets jugulbandi with other musicians.

Sitar with tabla and tanpura accompaniment.

Surbahar with tabla/pakhavaj and tanpura accompaniment.

Dilruba with tabla, swaramandal and tanpura accompaniment

Vocal khayal style with tanpura and tabla accompaniment

Vocal dhrupad style with pakhavaj and tanpura accompaniment

Tabla solo with harmonium accompaniment

Pakhavaj as accompaniment for dhrupad

Vedic Chants
Chanting in Sanskrit with tanpura and nattavangum-finger cymbals

Light Classical Music

Bhajans-religious songs in Hindi, Sanskrit,  and Bridge ,with harmonium, sitar and tabla accompaniment.

Ghazals- Urdu poems by the great plus original compositions sung with sitar, harmonium and tabla accompaniment.

Film Songs- old favourites plus some new, sung with sitar, harmonium and tabla accompaniment.

INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC - path to the divine. 

The Philosophy

In Indian philosophy music is considered to be of divine origin. In the Vedas (the oldest scriptural texts of Hinduism in which the earliest records of musical expression exist) sound is regarded as the creative energy or SHAKTI of the Absolute. It was through the power of sound the universe was created and it is through sound that one can evoking a certain state of mind or RASA- in the listener and the musician. This can stimulate a unique awareness to put the listener in touch with their inner life. Sangita -marga or the path of music is one of the paths to the divine.

Characteristics

Classical Indian music seeks to imitate the qualities of the human voice; it considers the voice as the supreme medium for performing music. Two key musical ideas - Raga and Tala (also written as Raag and Taal) - inform classical Indian music. A raga (in Sanskrit this literally means mood or colour) is a melody in a particular scale which develops according to set rules determining what and how notes are played, this can include the appropriate time of the day for a Raga, depending on it's mood and the structure of it's scale. Tala are time cycles ranging from 2 to 108 beats. An instrumentalist or vocalist performing a raga is accompanied by a percussion instrument playing a tala, the rhythmic cycle. Spontaneous Improvisation - in both rhythm and the melody - form a key part of any Hindustani Classical performance. This makes each performance a unique and extraordinary musical experience. In addition to traditional indigenous instruments used in North and South India such as veena and sitar, Indian music is played on Western instruments such as violin, guitar , harmonium, cello and saxophone. The music is not written, and is taught orally developing listening skills to a high degree.
 
Historical Development

Dhrupad, with it's austere devotional style is regarded as the foundation of Hindustani music. It arose from the ritualistic chanting of the Vedas (religious texts) and Nadayoga practices (the yoga of sound). This style flourished in the Hindu temples and later in the fifteenth century onwards in the Moghul and Rajput courts. (You can hear the influence of Dhrupad in Baluji's playing of the surbahar on his recording of "The Shadow of the Lotus").
 
Under Mughal influence, the combination of the indigenous musical culture and Persian Muslim (Sufi) influences produced the Khayal style , what is now known as Hindustani Classical Music. One of the greatest musicians who is credited with it's development was Miyan Tansen and folklore describes how with his singing of Raga Deepak he could ignite fire! Shastri sangeet (Indian Classical Music) became a central part of court life, with emperors and rulers taking pleasure and status from the excellence of their musicians. These musicians passed their knowledge orally onto their descendants creating long family trees of music. Fortunately musicians have always sprung up afresh creating new musical sources, as has been the case with the sitarist Baluji Shrivastav and the great flutist Hariprasad Chaurasia (his father was in fact a wrestler!).
 
Carnatic South Indian Classical Music

As the influence of the Mughals did not extend to South India, Carnatic music represents an unbroken Hindu musical tradition. Typical South Indian instruments such as the veena, ghatam (clay pot) and mridangam (double headed drum) are amongst the oldest Indian instruments. Carnatic instrumental music is also based on vocal techniques, it emphasises the use of gamakas (shaking of notes). South Indian music is essentially composed but recently it has begun to use improvisation and introduce aspects from the North such as the slow first movement of a Raga called alap.
 
Continual Change

Indian music continues to evolve with the development of new ragas, the invention of new instruments and the adaptation of foreign instruments to be played in an Indian style. It does the latter by a combination of bending or sliding of the notes, intricate ornamentation and by musician adopting new holding and sitting positions on the floor. Some of the scales upon which the ragas are based are similar to those in other systems of music thus making the music accessible  to other musical styles. When such an ancient system of music is combined with contemporary music technology  something interesting is bound to happen!
 
The Instruments
 
The sitar is a large, fretted, long-necked lute with a gourd resonator, it is the leading instrument of north Indian classical music. It has two sets of metals strings, the upper set for melody and rhythm - which are plucked by mizrab a ring worn on the right hand index finger - and the lowers set for resonance which tuned in the scale of the raga.
 
The surbahar is a large plucked, fretted lute with a gourd resonator, effectively a "bass sitar". Its construction is essentially the same as that of the sitar, but on much larger scale.
 
The dilruba is a long-necked fretted fiddle, with a skin sound table. It is used primarily to accompany popular and religious urban songs. There are four main playing strings of steel or brass and a number of thin steel sympathetic strings. The fiddle is played vertically, usually with a convex wooden bow, with it resting on the thigh and leaning against the left shoulder.
 
The tabla consists of a pair of drums. The hardwood treble drum, called dayan, is usually played with the right hand and the metal bass drum, called bayan, with the left. Both are covered with skin heads attached with leather strings. Wooden blocks are inserted between the strings and the outer wall of the dayan for tuning. An important feature is the siyahi, a coating of rice and iron filing paste that is placed centrally on the dayan and off centre on the bayan to give them a distinctive ringing sound. The dayan is tuned to basic note of the music being performed.
 
The tanpura is a long-necked unfretted lute with a round-body. The neck is hollow, it usually has four strings which are stroked one after another in a regular pattern to create a drone. It is an accompanying instrument that is used to create an ambiance for the main performer.