A jugalbandi of a Hindustani classical musician and a Carnatic musician is nothing new. The idea has been popular since the 1980s when sitarist Halim Jaffer Khan performed with Carnatic veena player Emani Shankar Shastri. Two other famous jugalbandis have been of sarangi player Ramnarayan with violinist MS Gopalkrishnan, and sarod player Amjad Ali Khan with violinist TN Krishnan. However, it is extremely rare to hear a jugalbandi between two flautists. This may be because musicians that play one instrument are wary of comparisons, especially since a jugalbandi is more about harmony. Mumbai audiences have a chance to listen to such a jugalbandi this fortnight when flautists Rakesh Chaurasia and B Vijaygopal perform. Their performance will be followed by a solo vocal recital by Carnatic singer Aruna Sairam.
Unlike a typical classical music performance at which there is a main performer and the other musicians are accompanists, both performers in a jugalbandi enjoy equal importance. Listening to two different musicians playing together can be an absorbing experience. When this duo first performed in Bangalore in August last year, they received a very positive response. “The feedback encouraged us to take this project further,” said Vijaygopal in an interview from Chennai where he lives.
The 30-year-old flautist is a student of three masters. He has trained under TR Navaneetham, TS Sankaran and KV Ramanujan. Prior to his jugalbandi with Chaurasia, Vijaygopal had not played with any other Hindustani musician. Like many musicians before him, he was delighted to find that there was a lot in common between the two systems. “The middle ground between the Carnatic and Hindustani traditions should be explored further,” he said.
Rakesh Chaurasia has more experience with jugalbandis. The 40-year-old nephew of Hariprasad Chaurasia has played with Carnatic musicians like violinist duo Ganesh Kumaresh and Mandolin U Srinivas. He has also performed with jazz pianist Louiz Banks, percussionist Taufiq Qureshi, Spanish guitarist Marco Salaun and UK-based fusion artist and tabla player Talvin Singh.
Chaurasia sees no problem in playing with another flautist. “A jugalbandi is not a contest,” said Chaurasia over the phone from the US where he was on a concert tour. “It is a dialogue between two musicians, and only then does it become successful and palatable to the audience,” he added. “The main focus is on getting the melody right and sharing a great chemistry with each other.” Chaurasia also said he always looks forward to learning a thing or two from a fellow musician. This fortnight’s concert will begin with flute solos and it will end with a jugalbandi.
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar on April 27 2012 4.30am