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Sunday, Feb 02, 2020 09:30 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Feb 02, 2020 03:52 [IST]

Tansen plays at Darbar


I was taken aback when I suddenly heard ‘Darbari Kannada’ and also the name Tansen, the legendary 16th century composer in the great Mughal Emperor Akbar’s Court that has brought my memories of History class at high school. The melody from Violin and rhythmic Tabla improvised over the drone at Tanpura which had effectively radiated into the surrounding air. Incidentally the Darbar was out of bound for outsiders. I put my ear hearing through the wall. It was really cool. The travelling waves vibrated across the wall. All of a sudden, the entire surroundings went on quiet. The pitches were vilambit (introductory slow tempo / laya) at a moment and druta (fast) khayal later. There were group of teachers examining the plays at Violin.
Raga ‘Darvari Kanada’ is originated in Carnatic Music and brought into Hindustani Music by Miyan Tansen. The said raga is one of the most difficult to master that played deep into the night. Tansen played in the Court and Patronage of the Hindu King of princely state of Rewa (Gwalior), Raja Ramchandra Singh. Tansen reputation brought him to the attention of Mughal Emperor Akbar and brought him one of the treasured Navratnas (Nine Gems) in his Court as Minister of Culture and honoured with title Miyan (learned man).
The fort at Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of Mughal emperor Akbar and Tansen performed different ragas at Diwan-i-Aam in front of the Emperor and his select audience. His ragas were able to channel very specific moods set in time from entire seasons to certain hours of the day.  It is said that Tansen could bring rain with music and candles used to light up automatically and could communicate with animals through his ragas. His raga Alhaiya Bilwal could bring pleasing serene atmosphere.
Tansen era had passed four centuries. The historical facts are not extensively known. But Tansen is the founder of Hindustani Classical Music. Tansen Sangeet Samaroh is organised in December by Madhya Pradesh government in Gwalior. Today, many Gharanas (schools) of Hindustani Classical Music are inspired from the composer, musician and vocalist Tansen. He is remembered for his epic Dhrupad compositions, several new ragas and classical books namely ‘Sri Ganesh Stotra’ and ‘Sangita Sara’.
I had memories of witnessing 90 minutes feast of classical Music on a typical Saturday night at Akashvani Bhavan, New Delhi at 9.30 pm.  All India Radio has been playing a very important role in the propagation & preservation of classical and folk music. Presently it is broadcasted by AIR on Sunday also. I had the opportunity to hear such music from many eminent artistes. The other day I had come across another coincidence that was from my daughter, who was appearing her final Visharad in Violin. The most shocking news was for me about memorising the entire ragas while playing the Violin. Such was the level of difficulties which I had never been in my knowledge. Moreover Violin is the most difficult musical instruments to learn. It requires precision to produce the proper tone and maximum concentration. Most of the professionals have probably been playing since childhood. But at the end of day examination, my daughter played at ease.
The music evokes memories. Today I would recall those late-at-night ragas at All India Radio Station as emotional. We used to grab some dinner nearby roadside dhaba at Sansad Marg and then went for a show. We hanged out at the floor of Recording Live Studio of AIR for about an hour or more and enjoyed the music. An experience to hear a piece of music after three decades later is transported back to me as I feel everything as if I am actually there. The relationship between music and memory is powerful. It is used to help dementia patients, the elderly and for those suffering from depression that I came across at King George’s Medical University, Lucknow.
For philosopher Plato, Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. If you are passionate about music, don’t hesitate. It’s never too late to start learning a Piano or a Violin. You won’t regret if you say yes to your passion. Music has been an important part of life. I tried to practice this sophisticated string instrument. But the fiddle is not only difficult to hold in the perfect position but it also lacks frets to guide my fingers on the surface. I realised my learning to violin required concentration. Although I’m not active in playing music but I’m truly a good listener of music. After all, ragas are totally melodic in different notes.
(A freelance writer based in Guwahati. He is a former Air warrior with IAF and currently working for SBI, Dispur. He can be contacted at email

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi