Friday 26 May 2017 News Updated at 03:05 AM IST
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But of course, music is for life! - Deccan Herald
But of course, music is for life!
Asha Chowdary,
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In Picture:  Maestro Pandit Jasraj
Pandit Jasraj, the veteran vocalist who is a legend not just for his golden voice, but also for his commitment to classical music over several decades, does not believe that artistes are born overnight.

According to this inimitable Hindustani classical vocalist, it takes time and patience to become a doyen of art. But he believes that his success always begins with his audience. Even as they revere his voice and salute his genius, he is inspired to touch their hearts with his music. "I see the audience, janata-janardan, as living gods, and my performance as a humble homage to them,” he says. "I think this is what makes them connect with my music. I always pray before starting a concert, and surrender my services to music and to my audience.” As he enters his 87th year, his majestic voice remains timeless, as does the beauty of his renditions.

Music lovers were in for a special treat this year, as his birthday also marked the launch of a new venture called Navrasa Duende, a production house that aims to bring world-renowned events to India and promote India’s best events abroad.

In an interview with Pandit Jasraj, during which he reflects upon his rich tapestry of musical experience for over half a century, it’s evident that music remains a divine experience for him. "Music has been an integral part of my life since my childhood. I loved waking up to the sound of music and absorbing its lilting cadence throughout the day. So, in a way, I have always known music to be my calling,” he says.

Pandit Jasraj, aged 6, was mesmerised by soulful ghazals and by other vocalists in and around his home. He was initiated into vocal music by his father, Pandit Motiram. "Music runs in the family; I’m a fourth-generation musician. As a young musician, there could have been no better environment to grow up in.”

After the demise of his father, he continued vocal training under the guidance of his elder brother Pandit Muniram, and Maharaja Jaywant Singh Waghela and Ustad Gulam Kadar Khan. With his soulful voice that had the unique ability to traverse over three-and-a-half octaves, it wasn’t long before he was recognised for being the genius he is. And, over the years, he spent several years studying his craft, creating music and giving concerts across the world.

He is the recipient of the prestigious Padma Vibushan and Padma Bhushan awards, just two of his umpteen accolades. He is also known for creating a new form of music called the Jasrangi Jugalbandi, where two vocalists (a male and a female) sing different ragas at two different scales simultaneously.

According to Pandit Jasraj, Indian classical music is popular for many reasons. "Its focus on the synergy between form, melody and notes makes it a very powerful medium,” he explains. "It has a unique transcendental power that can channel healing unlike any other art form. Many musicians know of this aspect and the various techniques it employs to create an ambience of goodwill and healing.”

Despite being immersed in the classical genre of music, he is not perturbed by the kind of music that young people today seem to love. He believes that youngsters are smarter than most people give them credit for. "We should not underestimate the youth of today; they have been exposed to many kinds of music, and are more open to them. I have always found them in attendance in large numbers at classical concerts,” he says.

Is the love for classical music diminishing globally? He says, "No, not at all. There is more crowd and more interest in classical music compared to just a decade back. The ever-increasing reach of the internet and social media has served to bring many more art forms into the limelight. Several new-age musicians are also merging classical musical techniques with a more modern outlook to create brilliant compositions that are reinvigorating people’s interest in classical music.”

Speaking about computerised music and electronic rhythms, he says, "The purity of music lies in the soul of the artiste and his/her connection with the instrument that he/she has respected and loved. This is something that computerised/ electronic music cannot replicate.”

It is not easy to become an exceptional musician, says Pandit Jasraj. "While anyone can become a good enough musician with practice, to really become outstanding, one requires the gift of the lyrical, which can only be bestowed through god’s grace. Your guru’s blessings and guidance are also important in the quest for artistic excellence,” he says, adding "Like any other divine experience, the spirituality of music is different for different people. Every musician has to find out what music means to him/her, and strive to use this knowledge to perfect the art.”

When he is not working on his music or singing at concerts, Pandit Jasraj loves to watch sports on television.

His only advice to youngsters who want to excel in the field of music is to begin with reverence. "Respect your parents, for they are your first teachers. They are the ones who have given life to you and made you who you are today. For that, they deserve to be respected and treated like gods,” he says.

As for his future, he does not plan to sit back, relax and retire. "I plan to keep on performing and teaching talented students in the tradition of the gurus of old,” he says.
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