The Week, March 2010
There are many books on Indian classical music, especially ones its intricacies and its grammar. These have been written by great musicologists and theoretic researchers. However, very few performing musicians’ have written such books. Presentation of music or off a performance through words will always be a big test for every creative musician. Great musicians always took full liberties and freedom to decide how long or short the recital should be. There is no book available on the theoretic’ meters of music’ for the students which can guide them how to present or perform. Unfortunately most of the performing artists are blindly following the conventional way of presentation. Convention, I feel, is quite an unhealthy term, whereas tradition allows innovations, within the frame work as a discipline of the Raga. Since, ours is an oral tradition, rules, regulations are far too flexible.

I am very happy to see a new book on 50 Maestros 50 Recordings of Indian classical music, written by my sons, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan, published by Harper Collins. The list of musicians could go up to 100, but the requirement by the publication house was 50 only. I have gone through the book. I am pleasantly surprised to see and realize the deep understanding of Indian classical music by both the brothers. Today they themselves have become young maestros, who are busy traveling, performing all over the world. However, what touched me the most was the mention of their personal equation and relationship with most of the musicians at the end of each chapter. Something that has never been done by performing artists! Their reverence and love towards the greats like M. S. Subbulakshmi, Bismillah Khan Saheb, Vilayat Khan Saheb and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and many others moved me no end. During their growing years they saw many collections of records (LPs, EPs and live recordings) that I collected and was gifted over the years. However, they themselves chose which artist that they would like to listen too. Thank God that we as parents or gurus never imposed our preferences upon them.. This applies to their recent book as well. They have their own opinion about every musician in of India or and the world. I saw the boys put in a lot of hard work over the course of many months to prepare the book. To have listened to 50 hours of recordings, was a great achievement for Amaan and Ayaan. I am sure it was a musical pilgrimage for both of them. They have become much more experienced and matured as artists as a result of this experience. Their whole approach of music has been enriched and I am sure they will be able to write more books on another 50 or 100 musician in the years to come. There was great need of such a book at this time.

At the same time that this book was being prepared, we were also working on our new album, The Music Room.. The Music Room is a very special place in my life. This is the room where a legacy that has generations of nurturing, caring and preserving behind it is passed on to students, disciples and offspring. The relationship here is that of a Guru and a Shishya (Student). It is a way of life handed down to us by our forefathers that transcends the day to day relationships that govern our lives. Indian classical music is an expression of our cultural identity past, present or future. Its study is based on dedication, surrender, faith, humility, trust, spirituality and rigorous practice and discipline. The Music Room is the space devoted to the pursuit of these virtues in my life. My Years of teaching my sons, Amaan and Ayaan were quite an experience. It was a first time that I was able to hold a student on my lap! In a family where music is a way of life and is basic to life, the training starts from the moment a child is born. I remember when Amaan was born and the first time I held him, I sang into his ear. Similarly, on Ayaan’s arrival two years later, I did the same. In essence, the taleem started from that point on. However, as time progressed, all their training and musical knowledge that I have tried to bequeath to them happened in the Music Room.

Thank God, I live in the world of sound. Through sound only I have experienced God Almighty, the common energy of the whole Universe. It is sad that the world of words is ruling this world. In my life I have communicated and connected with the world through the sound of Sarod only. For our normal growth and healthy life we must read more and also listen to appealing music but please avoid noise. Noise pollution is as dangerous alarming as the pollution world is worrying about. I would like to see world happy, full of harmony, peace and good health. My sincere condolence go out to the families of those who have lost their dear and near ones in the recent Pune bomb blast at the German Bakery Café. Yet another shameful act where man is determined to further the cycles of hate and violence rather than to facilitate love and peace, among mankind.