When I think back to childhood memories of evenings, this one comes to the fore: walking over to the stadium with my family, and belting out my favorite songs, while my little brother jumped up and down the steps. My Dad, around whom most of my early musical memories circle, would sit some distance away and listen. If he could hear every nuance of every line, then I had won! Next evening, he would sit one step further away, and so on. I’ve always had a fine grained and sensitive voice, somewhat reticent to volume and projection. ‘Patli aawaaz hai, microphone ke liye bani hai’, people would say. This ‘stadium exercise’ must have been a scheme to get my voice to open up, but it was fine as a game too.
Now, wherever I go in the world, if I happen to be in a stadium or an amphitheater or any place with steps really…my Pavlovian response is to start singing for distance! So, when I found myself at the amphitheater in Hierapolis (Turkey) recently, I closed my eyes, turned my tanpura app on, and just like that, became one of the first Indians to do riyaz there. Of course, the Greeks, Romans and Ottomans have all vetted the acoustics of this place for centuries before me, and performed to crowds some 15,000 strong. (Built in the 2nd century AD by Roman emperor Hadrian, the views overlooking the thermal pools and limestone terraces of Pamukkale are quite spectacular too.)
As a thank-you to a father who instilled this lifelong habit in me, I offer up this lovely bandish in Raga Nand Kalyan. The composer ‘Ramrang’ proves his artistry with both lyrics and music, as the house of Nand comes together to celebrate the joyous arrival of baby Krishna. The mukhda in this version is a slight adaptation of the original by my Guru Pt. Parameshwar Hegde.
Nand Kalyan/ Drut Ektal/ Pt. Ramashreya Jha ‘Ramrang’
नन्द घर आनन्द की बधाई बाजे, यशोदा तिहारे आज भाग राग जागे जागे
ऐसो लाल पायो री, जैसे कोउ पायो नाही, ‘रामरंग’ नयन मेरो दरस दान मांगे मांगे
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