Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kumar Shyamand Singh on creation of new ragas

Kumar Shyamanand Singh was against the modern trend of creation of new ragas and new styles and felt that this was harmful for the evolution of classical music. This is not to say that he was against creativity and innovation without which no art form can exist. He, himself, advocated them as essential ingredients of his own pursuit. However, he felt that our ancestors had created innumerable ragas and styles and we had received them as inheritance from them. We first needed to master them all before thinking of doing anything new in terms of creation of new ragas and styles. According to him, most "new" ragas were a changed form of the old ragas and as such could not be called "new" in real sense. An artist can create new ragas only if he is certain that he had learnt all the ragas created in the past. Otherwise, he would create "new" ragas that would not be "new" in reality. He felt bewildered about the need or urge in this regard as he felt that even mastering one of the many existing ragas in one's lifetime is extremely difficult and complex. He used to say: "Ek Saadhe to sab sadhe, sab saadhe to sab jaye".

He spoke of the rigorous training he was subjected to by his gurus where he was made to sing the same raga for days to perfect it. There were several ancient and archaic ragas that could be performed or sung by an artist. The need was to learn and try to perfect them instead of launching half-baked in pursuit of new ragas. He used to say that our ancient ragas are so complete and beautiful in themselves and on this basis questioned the need to create new ragas.

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