'I was not a child prodigy'

'I was not a child prodigy'

Music has no boundaries for him and adjustment in life is his greatest ibadat. Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, who plays not just for his audience but also for himself and his guru — who happens to be his father — speaks to Metrolife in length about his music.

“Things have changed tremendously over the years. There are close to 400 television channels to choose from and this has been a boon for some and a bane for others. While some prefer to watch television, others want to hear us. But the bright side is that the presentation of classical music in the country has changed. I feel presentation is also an art — we constantly try to innovate and create something new in the way we present our music,” he explains.

When asked about his initial years in the industry, he reminisces, “My father was very particular about his music and did not allow any of his pieces to be recorded.

Unfortunately, we only have a few of his ‘All India Radio’ programmes left. He did not like anyone disrespecting music in any form. I always wanted to play like him — it is but natural for any child to emulate his father. It was a blessing that I had the opportunity to do so. I was not a child prodigy and I had to work hard. The sarod is a difficult instrument.”

His family is one of the most successful carriers of the guru shishya parampara — this is the seventh generation to carry on the tradition. More than proud, the maestro is happy for his sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan.

“Both of them have a defined character. They are very different and their individuality is reflected in their music as well. One can easily identify the differences in their nature while they are playing,” he notes.

He has popularised the sarod and spread the chords of Indian classical music far and wide. The maestro has no qualms in accepting the fact that he owes everything to classical music. “I am what I am because of classical music and the people of India.

Once, a very famous musician travelled with me for a concert to Rome. The organisers asked me how they should address me on stage — I told them, say whatever you want.

I was stunned at what I heard next — I was told that the other musician had demanded that he be called the musician of the century. I told them that they should call me the most loved musician of India. Har kism ke kalakar hote hain,” he quips.

The artiste does not believe in drawing boundaries. He explains that as artistes and musicians, one should not distinguish between Hindustani and Carnatic classical music.

“In the future, all musicians should term these two forms Indian classical music of the North and South. My sole aim is to never be a humiliation to music.

When I am in concert, my interest lies in showcasing what the sarod wants to say — sometimes it wants to whisper, sometimes it wants to be loud. Today, I feel that the quality of music is diminishing and the stature of artistes is going down day by day,” concludes the Ustad.

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