Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sand Dune Tunes: Brij Bhushan Kabra

The history of the guitar in India goes back many many years. Perhaps it was the Portuguese who came to India looking for ‘Christians and spices’ in the 15th century who first introduced the instrument into the region.  In the early years of the 20th century a Hawaiian guitarist, Ernest Ka’ai, toured India to great acclaim.  In his wake that shakey mercurial twang of the guitar made its way into the aural universe of Indian music. It was a sound that lent itself to the popular and light music of the cinema and if you listen carefully to almost any ‘upbeat’ Hindi film song from the  60s onwards, you’ll hear some very accomplished licks.

Brij Bhushan Kabra 

It wasn’t until Brij Bhushan Kabra, a Rajasthani musician from the blue city of Jodhpur that anyone seriously attempted to play classical music on the Hawaiian guitar.  Kabra studied with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, the internationally acclaimed sarodiya (sarod player) who encouraged him to innovate with the guitar.  Kabra eventually redesigned the instrument, which he plays face up on his lap, by adding some drone and sympathetic strings. He had also raised the guitar bridge and modified the stem to hold more strings.

Many months ago, the Washerman’s Dog highlighted his most famous recording, The Call of the Valley, with bansuri player, Hariprasad Chaurasia and santoor master, Shiv Kumar Sharma. The record is probably the largest selling Indian classical/traditional record in the West and put all three musicians in the international limelight. While recordings by Chaurasia and Kumar are readily available Kabra’s output is harder to find.  Tonight’s post is a beautiful, imaginative collection of folk themed-songs that evoke the western deserts of Rajasthan.  This 1985 recording is (scratchy, yes, but) simply excellent. His old friend Hariprasad Chaurasia lends a hand on flute as well. EMI India re-issued this record as a CD in 1990, with an added track which does not appear on this original vinyl LP.

            Track Listing:
01.  Badila Bega Aaijo (Lover's Call)
02.  Bayeria (The Monsoon Wind)
03.  Pinihari (The Water Maid)
04.  Holi (Festival of Colours)
05.  Charkho (The Wheel of Life)
06.  Bidaai (The Departure)
Listen here.



Anonymous said...

Hey Washerman, I REALLY appreciate your selections and thank you for your great tunes. I apologize in advance for seeming to complain but wanted to suggest that when you post files you post them in something like MP3 320k - very high quality for mp3s. If you post in AIFF but at a lower sample rate you are really reducing the quality of the music while keeping the file size equivalent to an MP3. AIF's DON'T compress well whereas MP3s are designed for compression. If you wanted to go with higher quality than MP3. then FLAC's make sense as they can be 'expanded' and you wouldn't lose anything from original. M4a's are a wrapper around files that make them less compatible than if they were just mp3s. If you move their location in itunes for ex. then they seem to disconnect many other adjoining files too whereas MP3s don't seem as finicky. Hope all this is not taken as complaining. By the way - I always LOVED Brij Bhushan Kabra and see where Vishwa stole his title from. Never heard this album. Thank you again...

ajnabi said...

Thanx for the kind words. Glad you appreciate the music and effort.
I'll take your (and others) advice on MP3 next time around. Have a bunch to rip soon.

kokolo said...

Wonderfull one, thanks Anjabi!

ajnabi said...

you are most welcome

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for sharing wonderful music through your blog. I had this cassette and listened to these enchanting melodies so many times. I was searching the mp3 version for last few years. I would be highly obliged if you kindly re-upload this music if possible.

Nathan Rabe said...

Anonymous, I'm glad you have reconnected with this great album. I'll upload it again asap. I'm currently away from home and not on a good internet connection so hopefully in 72 hours or so will have this uploaded again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much dear Nathan for accepting my request.

Nathan Rabe said...

all ready now.