Shankarlal music festival 1963

The Shankarlal music festival in Delhi began with a shehnai recital by Bismillah Khan who chose the raga Poorvi for alap in vilambit and drut. Bismillah Khan invests his music with an elusive woodland grace. In the

vilambit alap, one could visualise the great god Pan in a drowsy noontide repose, beguiling the hours playing a pastoral ditty on the pipe. The drut sequence evoked the vision of a dancing host of satyrs and fauns that chased each other around treetrunks or swung across overarching boughs. The whole imagery of his music seemed to be irradiated by the rays of the evening sun touching every lingering note into a golden point and every flourish into a golden streak. The secret of Bismillah’s music seems to lie in the fact that it partakes throughout of the nature of an arrierepensee. The entire music is a postscript to the emotion that is conjured up with the first utterance of the drone. It convinces one not with the strength of a clear intention, but with the insinuation of a nestling reminiscence. The listeners do not hear so much as overhear. And one is afraid that the magic spell would be broken, and the vision of the woodland beauty vanish if one so much as batted an eyelid.