Dr. Lalmani Misra | Misrabani Vichitra Veena Heritage Alive, Vol. 2

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Misrabani Vichitra Veena Heritage Alive, Vol. 2

by Dr. Lalmani Misra

Live recordings of Vichitra Veena recitals given in Philadelphia in 1970, illustrate Misrabani style — the art of creating complex compositions — presenting the traditional Raga-s in enriched manner.
Genre: World: Indian Classical
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Raga Multani: Alap, Jod (Live)
Lalmani Misra
17:40 $0.99
2. Raga Multani: Gat (Live)
Lalmani Misra
37:45 $0.99
3. Raga Bhairavi: Dhun (Live)
Lalmani Misra
20:15 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
This album is second of a series based on live recordings of Vichitra Veena recitals given by Lalmani Misra in cities like Philadelphia, New York, Rochester etc. in 1970 and later. He was invited to start the first north-Indian music department at a university outside India, and with cooperation of friendly colleagues and enthusiastic students, started a program at University of Pennsylvania that continues to date. Along with some associates, Dr. Nancy Nalbandian tried to record almost all his performances. When the recording was made by others, she worked to obtain a copy for Dr. Misra’s personal record. Dr. Gopal Shankar Misra recorded performances in India and diligently maintained his father’s recordings for over two decades. While a few spool-tapes have deteriorated over time, most tapes have retained original quality of recording.

Young Lalmani had started his musical journey at tender age singing Dhrupad, and was taught Khayal by Mehndi Hussain Khan of Rampur Senia tradition. Dr. Pushpa Basu states in her “String Compositions of Twentieth Century” that “by the age of 12 he knew more than 500 different bandishes by heart”. He was invited to work with record companies, theater and film companies in Calcutta and soon perfected most instruments and music-forms. It is worthwhile observing how his left hand, holding a bulky glass ball, can still move lithely at high-speed to work out Chhand-s, fashioned by fingers of the right hand. The range of six octaves empowers the artiste to manifest various shades of Raga as internal dialogue on Vichitra Veena. The two Raga-s selected here are well known and share a thread of compassion underlying contrary emotions. Such challenging movements involving oppositions, thrill and inspire all artistes.

Raga Multani – This Raga is named after a province that identified Todi and Dhanashree variants. On basis of notes, it was placed in Todi Thaat but strong Pancham differentiates Multani from Todi, and the Raga has its unique movement. It is elaborated in all three octaves – Mandra, Madhya and Tar. Characteristic movements constitute Gandhar touching Teevra Madhyam. Compassionate and mellow, Multani is a twilight Raga combining late afternoon with evening.

Raga Bhairavi – This Raga is one of the most popular Raga-s of India with a broad compass. Heptatonic Bhairavi is an early morning Raga with Madhyam sonant and Shadja consonant. In another variation, flat Gandhar - flat Dhaivat consonance is central; Shadja – Madhyam centrality is another possible variety. It allows ample freedom for range of emotions and subtility of expression.

While Dr. Misra was renowned for composing in rare and complex Tal-s, he fully exploited the sixteen beat Tal-s. The Multani composition is in Teen Tal and Bhairavi in Addha Tal.

It needed no less than the talent nurtured by musical inheritance of Pt. Ishwarlal Mishra, to provide an adept accompaniment on Tabla. He had accompanied Dr. Misra on other albums like “Nectar of the Moon: Vichitra Vina Music of Northern India”, “La Musique De Pandit Lalmani Misra” apart from numerous live recitals.

Most of these Vichitra Veena recordings were live performances given at various locations in America and India between 1969 and 1978. Some of the recitals were held in the ‘Baithak’ style, where audience sit on floor surrounding the artistes. The original ambience has been maintained to capture audience response and appreciation. Recorded and mixed live on analogue spool tape recorder on seven inch reels, care has been taken to maintain musical continuity over volume modification, except in extreme situations. Acoustic strings and percussion may require tuning of one or other instruments, due change in temperature. Interruptions over sixty second force editing; shorter interruptions are retained. Dr. Nancy Nalbandian made original recordings in America and Dr. Gopal Shankar Misra assisted by Shri Chatterji, recorded performances in India.

Dr. Lalmani Misra, well known as a Vichitra Veena player, had an extraordinary ability for creating music. Spontaneity and perfection defined his music. The following remarkable quotes by prominent artists and members of the musico-academic community would give a brief notion of Dr. Misra's exemplary creative strength before we proceed to analyze his genius:

“Prof. Misra was the Music Director of Udaya Shankar's troupe and job amply speaks of his eminence as musician. He contributed some of lively tunes and melodious notes to music performances given in foreign countries which kept the audience spell bound. He gave his performance in almost 150 big towns of America and Europe and was hailed by one and all as a talented artist of the age. Prof. Misra can play on eight instruments with a master's hand.” [News Paper item (Telegraph May 6, 1952) excerpt]

Dr. Misra's contribution to the music world, apart from seminal work on musical instruments, was creation of Shruti Veena and several new Raga-s like Sameshwari, Madhukali, Baleshwari and more. Apart from tracing development of Indian musical instruments, he composed hundreds of compositions for Sitar in more than 150 common and uncommon Raga-s. Moved by a desire to perfect a system in instrumental music that would be as complete as the vocal tradition, he created a new Gat style, called 'Misrabani'. It was also referred to as 'Koot ki Gat' owing to the complexity of the Gat. They were so labeled, recalling instances of using such complex rhythmic patterns by earlier musicians in flourishes hailed by the aficionados as Koot ki Tan.

The Misrabani compositions he created are serious compositions in stylistic sense. They establish that selection of Raga-s influences contemplative and creative abilities of musicians.

The oblique movement and complexity of a Raga is considered one of the main reasons for its unpopularity. There are many Raga-s that are extremely melodious and fulfill all norms of Indian classical music (proper consonances with lower and upper tetra-chords), but owing to their complex nature, they are rarely played by instrumentalists. Most of such demanding Raga-s like Basant Bahar, Gandhari, Malhua Kedar, Anand Bhairav, Multani, Kaushik Kanhada, Malgunji, Bageshri Kanhada, Sindura, Neelambari etc. were played by Dr. Misra. He played both, gatkari-s of Tantrakari, commonly known as Dhrupad-ang, as well from Gayaki-ang as practiced in Khayal and Thumri.

Apart from music already released, rare Raga recordings on Vichitra Veena are in archives of All India Radio. This series — Misrabani Vichitra Veena: heritage aLive — attempts to make available to listeners, hitherto unpublished live music of Dr. Lalmani Misra.

Misrabani Vichitra Veena heritage aLive vol 2

Raga Multani 17:39
Alap, Jod
Raga Multani 37:44
Vilambit TeenTal (slow 16 Beats)
Drut TeenTal (fast 16 Beats)

Raga Bhairavi 20:15
Addha Tal (16 Beats)

Vichitra Veena: Dr. Lalmani Misra
Tabla: Pt. Ishwarlal Mishra

Original Sound Recording: Nancy Nalbandian



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