The Week, February 2011
Performing art is such a precious gift of God; it is really difficult to evaluate the caliber and greatness of the Artist, especially a musician till the time you listen to him live or through recordings. No book could do justice to musicians and their contributions towards their chosen instruments or Vocal music as eventually; it’s the work that matters. As a musician I feel sad to see that there are many books only on few musicians, though we had so many great musicians, especially in the generation of my father and Guru Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb; but one has to struggle to find books on other great masters. By in large, people only wrote on those musicians only who became famous nationally or internationally. The kind of books available on great musicians in the market is written mostly by people who are not musicians. These kind of books are quite misleading, most of the writers don’t not understand the intricacies or the techniques of Indian Classical Music, but surely every body has their right to express their opinion on the Artists they like and encourage. I think we need more competent writers who understand music and also they should be kind and impartial.

There are few books written by musicologists or unknown musicians. Fortunately or unfortunately every classical musician is religiously committed to his Guru and Guru’s Gharana(musical identity)only. No classical musician would like to praise or highlight any other musician until he or she is paid to do so!. Historically there have always been very few musicians (like today) who became heartthrobs of the nation or the world. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is quite true even now. In recent times, we have seen some very successful musicians and seeing their journey, behavior and way of life, I got the impression and vibrations as if music should begin and end with them. However, we must not forget that music exists in every living being and music will always be there till the universe exists; every musician is like a mere traveler in this huge universe in search of depths of music and rhythm.

The era of music critics is now almost a bygone chapter. Days were fixed for music reviews in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi. There were always reviews and articles on Films (which continue enormously even now!), Paintings and Dance etc. Among the music critics, some were also musicologists and some unknown frustrated musicians. Very few non musicians were critics but some musicians performed better as critics then the rest. It’s natural that they all had their favorite musicians. Certain critics wrote superlatives and glowing tributes to the worse concert of their favorite musician or dancer. Thank God that era is over in a few cities of India. But in the US, Europe and rest of the world, music and dance reviews are still on and also considered important and essential for performing arts. In our country music and dance critics really ruled from the late sixties till late eighties. Due to shortage of space in certain news papers and highly commercial consumerism, very few newspapers are still committed to Classical music reviews. As an Artist I feel there is no need for reviews any more. These kinds of reviews have ruined the carrier of so many young musicians and dancers. It is better to have interviews or articles on Artists.

In performing arts, it is always advisable to attend the concert of your favorite musician and listen to his or her recordings. Books or news papers reviews can’t evaluate or judge the caliber and great or smallness of the musicians. The most valuable document is if an Artist him or her self write his Auto biography or the experiences of his journey. I am presently busy writing a Book on my father and guru Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb. Though it does talk about the man, the music and the father he was, it also speaks about that entire era and covers many parts of my musical journey too along with reminisces of that time and my interactions with my contemporaries. I have covered many aspects and also mentioned many things that I never did in my interviews or articles in the past.

-AAK