Frustrated with his supporting role, Narayan moved to Mumbai to work in Indian cinema in 1949. After an unsuccessful attempt in 1954, Narayan became a concert solo artist in 1956 and later gave up accompaniment. He started to record solo albums and began to tour America and Europe in the 1960s. Narayan taught Indian and foreign students and performed, frequently outside of India, into the 2000s. He was awarded India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2005. Early Life Ram Narayan was born 25 December 1927 in Udaipur, in the Indian state of Rajasthan. His great-great-grandfather Bagaji Biyavat was a singer from Amber, and he and Narayan's great-grandfather Sagad Danji Biyavat sang at the court of the Maharana of Udaipur. Narayan's grandfather Har Lalji Biyavat and his father Nathuji Biyavat were farmers and singers, and Nathuji played the dilruba. Narayan's first language was a dialect of Rajasthani, and he learned Hindi and later English. Narayan found a small sarangi left by the family's Ganga guru, a holy man and genealogist, at an age of about six and was taught a fingering technique developed by his father, despite his father's initial worries about the low status of the sarangi. After a year, Biyavat sought lessons for his son from sarangi player Mehboob Khan of Jaipur, but changed his mind when Khan said Narayan would have to change his fingering technique and Narayan never learned under Khan. Narayan's father later encouraged his son to leave school and devote himself entirely to playing the sarangi. At about ten, Narayan learned the basics of the dhrupad genre from sarangi player Uday Lal of Udaipur by observing and imitating Lal's practice. After Lal died of old age, Narayan met traveling singer Madhav Prasad, originally of Lucknow, who had performed at the court of Maihar. Narayan served him and was taught in the khyal genre, but returned to Udaipur four years later and began to teach music school. Prasad later visited Narayan and convinced him to vacate his position to improve as a musician, but the idea of giving up a secure existence for the live of a traveling musician was not well received by Narayan's family. Narayan stayed with him until Prasad died in Lucknow. Narayan had performed the ganda bandhan, a traditional ceremony of acceptance between a teacher and his pupil, with Prasad and another teacher who gave him a few lessons before he left for Lahore, but never had the ceremony performed again. Career Narayan in 1944 traveled to Lahore to find work in a film studio, but was unsuccessful. He instead auditioned for the local All India Radio (AIR) as a singer, but the station's music producer Jivan Lal Mattoo noticed grooves in Narayan's fingernails. Sarangis are played by pressing the fingernails sideways against three playing strings, which strains the nails. Mattoo made Narayan play sarangi, upon which he was employed as an accompanist for vocalists. Mattoo gave Narayan a room to stay in and later helped him contact khyal singer Abdul Wahid Khan, a rigorous teacher under whom Narayan learned four ragas. Narayan learned only through singing, as he had already mastered the sarangi playing technique. After the partition of India in 1947, Narayan moved to Delhi and played at the local AIR station. His work for popular singers increased his repertory and knowledge of style and he accompanied Amir Khan in 1948, when Khan sang for the first time at AIR Delhi after partition. Narayan was allowed occasional solo performances and had begun thinking of a solo career. As an accompanist for vocalists, Narayan showed his own skill and refused to stay in the background. Traditionally, the sarangi and the other stringed instruments as well as the harmonium are used to accompany vocal music melodically and are supposed to play after the singer, imitate the vocal performance, and fill in gaps between phrases, when the singer breaths and prepares a new phrase. Some vocalists complained Narayan was not a consistent accompanist and too assertive, but he maintained he wanted to keep singers in tune and inspire them in a friendly competition. Other singers and tabla players publicly expressed admiration for Narayan's playing. Narayan became frustrated with his supporting role for vocalists and moved to Mumbai in 1949, to freelance in film music and recording. He recorded three solo 78 rpm gramophone records for the British HMV Group in 1950 and he and Vilayat Khan recorded early 10 inch LP albums in Mumbai in 1951, but the record was not popular. Narayan's compositions and performances were popular in the Mumbai film industry, which offered a steady salary and anonymity for work that would have lowered his standing among classical musicians. For the next 15 years Narayan played and composed songs for films, including Humdard, Adalat, Milan, Gunga Jumna, Mughal-e-Azam, and Kashmir Ki Kali. Cowasji Jehangir Hall in 2007 Narayan performed in Afghanistan in 1952 and China in 1954 and was well received in both countries. His first solo concert in 1954 at a Mumbai music festival in the Cowasji Jehangir Hall was cut short by an impatient audience that waited for a duet of Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, and Narayan contemplated giving up the sarangi for singing. He later gave performances to smaller crowds and received an approving response after another attempt to play for a Mumbai music festival in 1956. Narayan gave up accompaniment in the early 1960s; this decision carried a financial risk, because demand for solo sarangi had yet to be created. Narayan became one of the Indian instrumentalists who followed Ravi Shankar's example and performed in the Western countries. He started to record solo albums and made his first international tour in 1964 to America and Europe, together with his older brother Chatur Lal, a tabla player who had toured with Shankar in the 1950s. Beginning in the 1960s, Narayan often taught and gave concerts outside of India. On his several Western tours Narayan encountered interest in the sarangi because of its similarity to cello and violin. He continued to perform and record in India and abroad for the next decades and his records appeared on Indian, American, and European labels. During the 1980s he typically spent a few months each year visiting Western nations. He performed less frequently in the 2000s. In August 2009, Narayan will perform at BBC's The Proms. Style Indian classical music is often performed to a small audience seated on the floor, close to the musicians. Narayan stated that he sees it as his function to please an audience and lead it to stimulation or a state of peace of mind, but expects it to assist him by reacting to his playing. His performances are a combination of slow and serious alap (non-metrical introduction) and jor (performance with pulse) in dhrupad style, followed by a faster and less reserved gat section (composition with rhythmic pattern provided by the tabla) in khyal style. Narayan experimented with a style of jhala (performance with rapid pulse) developed by Bundu Khan, but considered it better suited for plucked instruments and stopped performing jhala. Narayan practices and teaches using a small number of paltas, exercises in a small scale range that repeat the notes of the swara (Indian music scale) and are used to practice playing different numbers of notes per bow. Derived from paltas are lengthy note patterns, called tans, which contain characteristic "melodic shapes" and are used for fast playing by Narayan. The gat section consists of one or two compositions. When two gats are used, the first one is in slow or medium tempo and the second one is faster, and they are usually in the 16-beat rhythmic cycle tintal. Narayan uses his left (fingering) hand for runs to play an extended melodic range, and his right (bowing) hand for rhythmic accentuations. He often concludes performances with ragas associated with thumri (a popular light classical genre), which are referred to as mishra (mixed), because they allow for additional notes, but Narayan stated that he does not consider his versions to be thumri because they are not derived from vocal compositions. Narayan was associated with the Kirana gharana (stylistic school of Kirana) through Abdul Wahid Khan, but his performance style is not strongly connected to it and was described as eclectic. Most of Narayan's compositions are from the vocal repertoire of his teachers and modified and adapted to the sarangi. He has created a few original compositions and varies those he learned in performance. Narayan disfavors the creation of new ragas, but created combinations of Nand with Kedar and Kafi with Malhar. Narayan uses a sarangi obtained from Uday Lal and built in Meerut in the 1930s in his concerts and recordings. He plays on foreign harp strings to produce a clearer tone. Narayan experimented with modifications to his instrument and added a fourth string, but removed it because it hindered fast playing. In the 1940s, Narayan substituted steel for gut for the first string and found it easier to play, but reverted to using only gut strings because the steel string altered the sarangi's sound. Contributions & Recognition Narayan increased the status of the sarangi to a modern concert solo instrument, made it known outside of India, and was the first sarangi player with international success, an example later followed by Sultan Khan. He contributed to the playing of the sarangi by codifying its playing technique. Narayan's simplified fingering technique allows for glide (meend) and influenced the contemporary sarangi concert style, as aspects of his playing and tone production were adapted by sarangi players from Narayan's recordings. Narayan taught at Wesleyan University and Mills College, Oakland, in 1968, and at the American Society for Eastern Arts and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai in the 1970s and 1980s, where he gave the first master class for sarangi. Narayan privately trained sarangi players, including his daughter Aruna Narayan Kalle, his grandson Harsh Narayan, and Vasanti Srikhande. He also taught sarod players, including his son Brij Narayan, as well as vocalists and a violinist. In 2002, he had 15 Indian students and more than 500 students in the United States and Europe had studied with him. Indian Music in Performance: a practical introduction, released by Neil Sorrell in cooperation with Narayan, was described as "one of the best presentations on modern North Indian music practice." Narayan received the three national Padma Awards: Padma Shri in 1976, Padma Bhushan in 1991, and Padma Vibhushan in 2005. The Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honor, was awarded by Indian President A.
P. J. Abdul Kalam. Narayan was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the highest Indian recognition given to practicing artists, in 1975, the Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1991-92, and the Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikhar Puraskar, which was named in honor of Aditya Vikram Birla and awarded in 1999 by P. C.
Alexander, governor of Maharashtra. Narayan received the Uttam Vaggayekar Jialal Vasant Award in 2005 and the Guru Madan Lal Koser and Guru Shobha Koser Award in 2008. In 2007, the biographical film Pandit Ramnarayan - Sarangi Ke Sang was shown at the International Film Festival of India. Family & Personal Life Narayan shared a close personal and musical relationship with his older brother Chatur Lal, who took up playing the tabla mainly to accompany his sarangi playing. Lal studied under tabla teachers in his youth but later turned to farming. After Narayan had become a professional sarangi player he was visited by Lal in Delhi in 1948, and he convinced Lal to work as tabla player at the local AIR station. Lal became an acclaimed musician, toured with Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan in the 1950s, and helped popularize the tabla in Western countries. When Lal died in October 1965, Narayan had difficulty performing and struggled with alcoholism, but overcame the addiction two years later. Narayan's wife Sheela, a homemaker, came to Mumbai in the 1950s, and they had four children. She died prior to 2001. His oldest son, sarod player Brij Narayan, was born 25 April 1952 in Udaipur. His only daughter Aruna Narayan Kalle was born in the mid-1950s in Mumbai. She was the first woman to give a solo sarangi concert and later immigrated to Canada. Another son, Shiva, plays the tabla. Brij Narayan's son, Harsh Narayan, also plays the sarangi. Ram Narayan performed in concert with Brij, Aruna, and Harsh. Chatur Lal had four children and Narayan assisted them after their father's death. Chatur Lal's son, Charanjit Lal, is a tabla player who has toured Europe with Narayan. Narayan is based in Mumbai. Narayan is a Hindu and stated "music is my religion", arguing that there was no better approach to divinity than music. He dismissed modern Indian film music and argued recognition of him and the sarangi came only after acceptance by the Western audience. Narayan attributed the lack of sarangi students to a lack of competent teachers. The Pt (Pandit) Ram Narayan Foundation in Mumbai offers scholarships and teaches sarangi, but Narayan stated he was skeptical the sarangi would survive. References # ^ Bor, Joep (1 March 1987). "The Voice of the Sarangi". Quarterly Journal (Mumbai, India: National Centre for the Performing Arts) 15, 16 (3, 4; 1): p. 148.
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The Tribune. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060326/cth2.htm#7. Retrieved on 2009-03-08. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Narayan) Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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