Track 1 - Khyal - Raag jog 37.24
Track 2 - Thumri - Misra Des 14.07
Track 1 - Kajri 11.59
Track 2 - Hori 10.09
Track 3 - Thumri 13.42
Recorded live at the Saptak Music Festival 2001
Location Engineer - Derek Roberts
Assistant Engineer - Krishna Shirgaonkar
Mixed and Mastered in the U.K. by Derek Roberts of Soundcraft Productions
Production - Derek Roberts
This double CD presents one of the most accomplished contemporary exponents of the thumri style of vocal music, Girija Devi. Hailing from the city of Benares, the home of spiritual music forms, Girija Devi is one of the few living artists who has equal command over all the major styles of vocal music. She has won the highest acclaim for her contribution to Indian music and even at more than 80 years old she has excellent technique and conveys deep emotion through her singing.This is one special album from a special lady of India.
Varied and distinctive forms of vocal music have emerged over the centuries to suit different tastes and environments, reflecting their sources of patronage as well as a fruitful and intimate link to folk art forms.
This CD presents one of the most accomplished contemporary exponents of the thumri style of vocal music, Girija Devi. Hailing from the city of Benares, the home of spiritual music forms, Girija Devi now teaches at the Music Research Academy. As a performer, she has won international acclaim for her contributions to the development of classical music culture, awarded the Padma Bhushan, the highest Indian government award for musical excellence.
Girija Devi is renowned for her ability to interpret with her voice the spectrum of shades and colours of emotions inherent in the poetry which she sings. She is one of the few living artists with an equally versatile command of all the major styles of vocal music such as khyal, thumri, tappa, dadra, hori, chaiti, bhajan and kajri. In her singing, she threads together different strands of the vocal forms, highlighting the specialities of each form and emphasising their devotional aspects.
The thumri style is characteristically sung in religious celebration. Its emphasis on lyrics and playful improvisations can be interpreted as crystallising the emotions of devotion, mystical love and the pain of separation. Thumri is often scorned by purists of Hindustani classical music due to its semi-classical mode and choice of light ragas, which do not necessarily adhere to the rigid rules of melodic development. However, it was always hugely popular among music aficionados. This gentle, melodious form of vocal music has come a long way from its traditional renditions in the courts and salons of kings and courtesans in Northern India.
Until the end of the 19th Century, Lucknow was the only recognised gharana or school of thumri. Later forms of thumri were similarly named after their place of origin, such as those created in Farukhabad, Itawa, Bareilly, Mathura, Rampur, towns and kingdoms west of Lucknow.
It was in Delhi, where hundreds of musicians and dancers were patronised in its royal courts, which the styles of thumri and khyal rapidly developed. Even as Delhi's fortunes began declining after Aurangzeb's death in 1707, the Mughal emperors succeeding him continued to show interest in the lighter forms of music like khyal and thumri, preferring these to the more sober and meditative Dhrupad form. With the collapse of aristocratic patronage and the salon culture of performance giving way to modern concert halls, not only the upholders of the genre but also its basic goals and techniques underwent changes. The aesthetics of the vocal style gradually moved from their mild and seductive allusions to a more abstract and structurally defined art form. Nevertheless, these historical nuances are still tangible in modern renditions of the thumri.
CD 1 contains a rendition of Raag Jog, a relatively recent raag that has grown in popularity in the past fifty years. The khyal performance is set to Vilambit Ektaal, a slow rhythmic cycle set to twelve beats, with tabla accompaniment by the eminent tabla player, Sukhvinder Singh. The vocal nuances are precisely echoed on the accompanying sarangi, played by Santosh Misra. The sarangi is a traditional accompaniment for light classical vocal music. The interplay of melodic patterns between the singer and the sarangi player form the basis for a series of improvisations.
The second composition sung by Girija Devi is set to tintaal, a medium tempo cycle of sixteen beats. The final piece on CD 1 is a light composition based on Des Raag, traditionally sung in the rainy season, welcoming fresh showers after the hot summer.
CD2 begins with a light composition called kajri based on Raag Maru Bihag, with shades of Desh Raag. The second item is a traditional composition sung at the time of Holi, the festival of colours that ushers in the spring season, based on Raag Pilu.
The final composition on the CD is a thumri in Raag Bhairavi, which is traditionally sung at the end of a performance, based on the theme of separation and departure.