[Image: Vasant Rai playing the Sarod]

Vasant Rai playing the Sarod

This recording from a live concert in 1968 is the ‘stuff of legends’. It is by far the most soulful rendition of a particular Raag (Kaushi Kanada) that I know of, and I felt this ought to be shared.

Play the file (see download link on bottom left)

In Indian classical music, the Raag is not just a combination of notes, but amongst other things, a medium for a soul-ward journey that the musician embarks on according to his/her capacities. Even the best artists are perfectly inspired in public only a few times in their lives – such is the difficult nature of performing art.

This is the uniqueness of this recording in particular.

Vasant Rai was the last disciple of Allauddin Khan, a towering figure in North Indian classical music, guru to Ravi Shankar & father to Ali Akbar Khan & Annapurna Devi. Rai died at a young age, but left behind some of the most beautiful recordings of his self-expressions via the Sarod.

I’ve used this passage below as a means to improve my ability to listen and experience good music.

 “In the same way as one can share the emotions of another person by sympathy, spontaneously, by an affinity more or less deep, or else by an effort of concentration which ends in identification. It is this last process that one adopts when one listens to music with an intense and concentrated attention, to the point of checking all other noise in the head and obtaining a complete silence, into which fall, drop by drop, the notes of the music whose sound alone remains; and with the sound all the feelings, all the movements of emotion can be perceived, experienced, felt as if they were produced in ourselves

    –  The Mother