Golden Horn Releases Rasarang

22 March 2004


Golden Horn Records is proud to announce its release of Rasarang, an album of North Indian classical music performed by sarod master Rajeev Taranath. Accompanying master Taranath are Abhiman Kaushal on tabla and Chad Hamill on tanpura.

Taranath said, “I will just close my eyes, listen to the mood and absorb what is going on around me and the music will come.” Rasarang demonstrates how his inspiration for Raga, “the main building block of any concert of Indian classical music…(and) that which gives colour,” weaves technicality with a fire of emotion connecting player to audience. A Raga is not just a scale or melodic mode, but a complex system of exploring melody, following certain rules of ornamentation and intonation, and expressing a unique emotional color. “Playing a raga, to a musician, then means being aware of …(the) rules and making music while playing the notes to open up different vistas, some already traversed, some not yet, all the time abiding strictly to given rules. The musician is not unlike a mathematician who sets up problems with different levels of difficulty and sets about solving them with precision and clarity.” Taranath’s description of musician as mathematician betrays the depth of emotion revealed through his sarod. Bangladore’s Phoenix praises him stating, “Rajeev’s music comes through as a constant dialectic between deep classical rigor and an irrepressible emotional intensity.” Taranath best describes his musicianship by quoting T.S. Eliot, “You are the music while it lasts.”

Rasarang presents four Ragas: Vachaspati, Desh, Jogia Kalingra, and Piloo. For listeners new to Indian music, Rasarang’s liner notes include an interview with Taranath on Raga and bansuri player Deepak Ram’s eloquent description of the Ragas played by master Taranath. Raga Vachaspati is a challenging raga, which originates in the South Indian musical tradition but is performed here in the North Indian style. It is one scale among those known as ‘melas.’ On this CD, Taranath plays only the first part of a North Indian performance, known as Alap. The second Raga, Desh, is “derived from folk music” and “evokes romantic and nostalgic feelings.” Taranath performs Desh starting with a slow teental (a sixteen-beat rhythmic cycle) and moving to a “second faster composition also in teental…gradually increasing in tempo, ending with an exciting Jhala.” Raga Jogia Kalingra is the combination of two morning Ragas (Jogia and Kalingra). Taranath plays an Aachor (“an abridged form of Alap”), followed by a slow composition in rupak (a seven-beat rhythmic cycle) and concluding with a second faster composition in teental. Raga Piloo is a popular Raga that bends the rules “for the sake of aesthetics.” However, as Ram states, “It takes a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge of a raga before one can find ‘loopholes’ in the laws governing the particular Raga, whilst still maintaining its ‘aura’.”

Rajeev Taranath is one of the leading performers of the sarod today. As a young man, he studied Hindustani vocal music student with his father, Pandit Taranath. Considered a vocal prodigy, he was concert and radio artist before he was 20. Rajeev changed his musical direction after hearing Maestro Ali Akbar Khan (Khansahib) and Pandit Ravi Shankar in concert in Bangladore. He has studied with Khansahib nearly a half-century, and has also received guidance from Pandit Ravi Shankar and Shrimati Annapurna Devi. Rajeev has toured extensively as a performer in India, Australia, Europe, Yemen, and throughout the U.S. He was a film score composer for several nationally and internationally honored films. In 1980, he was the subject of a documentary made in Yemen, titled “Finnan Min-Al-Hind” (Artist from India). He is the recipient of the Indian Government’s highest award in the arts, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 1999-2000, given in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of Hindustani instrumental music. In 1998, he received the prestigious award, “Chowdiah Award for Music”, from the Government of Karnataka in India for excellence in the field of instrumental music. He has also received awards from the Indian State Government of Karnataka for his contribution to music: the Sangeet Nritya Akademi Award in 1993, and the Karnataka Rajya Prashati in 1996. Taranath was a Ford Foundation scholar from 1989 to 1992 and researched during this period on the Teaching Techniques of the Maihar-Allaudin Gharana (or music lineage).