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I am yet to get my due: Pt Brij Narayan
- Vijay Shanker, Mumbai

May 19, 2012

Renowned sarod maestro Pandit Brij Narayan has been a professional musician for more than three decades but feels that the recognition he truly deserves is yet to come. Pt Brij Narayan talks about his performances both in India and abroad and as to why he selected the sarod and not the sarangi, unlike his legendary father Pandit Ram Narayan.

Please tell us about your family background.
I hail from a family whose contribution to music has been known for generations. My grandfather Nathuji Biawat was a Dilruba player. My father Pandit Ram Narayan, whose name has become synonymous with the sarangi, is solely responsible for providing sarangi the solo concert status on an international level. My uncle Pandit Chatur Lal was one of the greatest tabla players of the country.

Why did you select the sarod and not the sarangi?
I felt the sarod was more adaptable to the contemporary trend of music. The tonal quality is also different, so I developed a passion for the sarod. Nevertheless, the technique that I have employed is sarangi style of playing the instrument in order to enhance the flow of music that is catchy and deep rooted too.

Are you Gharana conscious?

I am Gharana conscious but that does not mean that I would not like to learn from other Gharanas or schools of music. Each has its speciality. You have to be sincere and loyal to your mentor, it is only then you would be in a position to imbibe the qualities of a talented musician.

Who were your mentors?
My first mentor was my father Pt Ram Narayan. I learnt rhythm sense from my uncle Pt Chatur Lal, technical handling from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan saheb and also from respected sarod maestro Pt Dulal Sen who was with AIR, New Delhi.

When was your first performance?
My first performance was at the age of 12 in New Delhi at the Sapro House when a well-known French poet had visited India. I performed for about 20 to 25 minutes and was fortunate to be accompanied by my uncle Pt Chatur Lal.

How would you define your style of music?

I have kept the basic style of playing the sarod very pure and I have not compromised on the personality of the sarod as I have received training from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan saheb and of course my true guru is my father Pt Ram Narayan. Therefore, my style of music forms a fine fusion of both sarod and sarangi.

Do you feel that classical music is on the decline?
Classical music is solid and is deep rooted in our culture, hence it can't disappear. The real lovers of classical music has declined over the years but it is encouraging to note that lot of youngsters are learning classical music and are quite serious about it.

Tell us about your performances both in India and abroad.
I have been travelling from the age of 17 and was fortunate to release my first LP record in Europe along with my father. There I realised that the first musicians to perform abroad was Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pt Chatur Lal in 1956. They were introduced by the legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin. In 1964, my father and my uncle went to Europe to play music in its purest form. It is sad to state that the exposure to Indian classical music is very limited in India, pertaining to both radio and television, due to which audiences can't relate to classical music that easily. When I perform abroad, I get houseful audiences but in India to get a packed house is not easy.

Do you think music education is necessary?
Schools should have classical music or classical dance education. It would make a big difference when the audience starts understanding music which I feel is the start to the appreciation of good music.

What do you think is the future of music?
The future is bright provided the Government takes the initiative of introducing young talent and promotes more and more performers and not restrict to a selected few.

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