In conversation with Ustad Sabri Khan, a Sarangi player from Delhi

Q Ustadji, you have seen quite some generations of Sarangi players what is the difference that you have observed then and now ??

In the by gone era emphasis was laid on the purity of the raag. There were no short cuts to success. The only mantra was hard work. A lot of attention was paid to ilm (knowledge) and riyaaz (practice) for achieving some gun(skill). Today the youngsters are in a great hurry. They acquire little knowledge and try to gain commercial success. During our times trying to get some knowledge out of ones teacher was a difficult task. One had to serve rather slogh out to please his Guru in the Guru-shishya parampara style. Today, it is not so. Knowledge has become more easily accessible.

Q What have you observed in today’s students ??

The children are very promising. They are sharp and closely observant.They are quick to grasp and try to rise on their own in most cases. The guru’s of our times never permitted the students to perform until and unless he was satisfied and sure that his student had the requisite talent and confidence to give a recital on his own. It was a matter of prestige for the guru.

Q How talented are today’s children ??

The children are indeed very talented. Education and exposure has further helped them to groom their personality and skills. Earlier the musicians were not very qualified. The confidence level in the younger generation is very commendable. It is encouraging to see that youngsters are coming forward in greater numbers to learn Sarangi.

Q What do you attribute to the renaissance of the Sarangi ??

Earlier Sarangi was mostly played as a sangat (accompaniment) and they were only few Solo Sarangi players. Now more are training to be soloist in particular. Foreigners are developing more interest and there are quite a few of them. I have a good of number of foreigners who are my shishyas (students), who are well placed in life and playing the Sarangi. This is a very heartening development indicating its global acceptance.

Q What suggestions do you have to popularize the Sarangi ??

I am pleased to observe that I get to see a lot of appreciation during concerts for Sarangi players. If this gets state support and the instrument taken more seriously in schools and colleges it would have benefited the Sarangi and its players immensely.

Q Would you please give some valuable advise to today’s children ??

For a Sarangi player it is very important to be in sur. Once this is achieved tayyari (command over the instrument) comes naturally. One should practice on slow rhythm, which will strengthen control on the sur and its knowledge making his grip of the raag stronger. One has to practice on the sur with extreme concentration. Lastly but not the least a student has to follow his guru’s instructions properly and bring about innovative variations for that individual mark of his own.

Q How should a Sarangi player maintain his success ??

In music different kinds of music and instruments has seen it’s hey days and gloom too. So has the Sarangi. The good days are back again and therefore one gets to see people liking the sound of Sarangi and many wanting to learn it. So it is all the more imperative that when appreciation is heaped on a Sarangi player it should make him more humble and not arrogant. Humility brings success and arrogance downfall.