Alaap is perhaps the most revered part of Hindustani classical music. Being free of the bindings of words and rhythm, this anibaddha (free) form is perhaps the closest to pure melody. Creating and developing the raga atmosphere while systematically unfolding the raga is what separates the true masters from ordinary musicians. Blending the structural requirements and solemnity of an alaap in an emotive rendition is possible only by a blessed few. It calls for an all-encompassing passion, extra-ordinary taalim (training) and a life-time of rigorous saadhana (practice).
With textural changes in the fabric of Hindustani classical music, some of the leading gharanas of yesteryears have all but vanished from the public eye. One of the casualties of this change has been the once celebrated Agra Gharana. Though there are still some very capable and devoted musicians of the Gharana, the musical capabilities of this tradition appear to have been almost forgotten today. The magic of a nom-tom alaap in a characteristic full-throated voice–production, extensive use of the lower registers(mandra), powerful gamaks, elaborate meends, layakari and, above all, the emotive style appear to have vanished with the great master Aftab-e-Mausiki Ustad Faiyyaz Khan Saheb and few of his worthy successors who carried forward the great tradition. The ambience created by an emotive alaap superbly rendered in the Agra Gharana style has to be experienced to be believed.
This site presents a collection of such rare alaaps sung by MANINDRALAL SENGUPTA, (MONI BABU to his friends and associates) an unsung master of the art, who preferred to practise his craft away from the public eye. He successfully blended the Agra Gharana style with the rare emotionalism of a very old and forgotten style, that probably had its roots in Banaras ( Varanasi ). This gave a different dimension to his music, particularly his alaaps. He never gave a public performance because music to him was his personal communion with God, his chosen form of worship. His renditions are the biggest evidence of this statement.
The songs presented here were recorded in the few months prior to his death in 1982, when lung cancer had already taken a heavy toll of his once booming voice and the singer had lost much of his ability. Fate ordained that, in his last days, he would not even have the benefit of the basic accompaniments. It is a tribute to the departed singer that these superbly rendered songs rise above these drawbacks and recording defects and succeed in transporting the listeners to a land of pure, ethereal melody.
This site is an effort to give the present generation of music lovers a glimpse of that lost horizon.
What Listeners Say
This is pure passion at work unconcerned with the compulsions of performing on stage......... This is great music -- soulful, melodious, royal.
- N Srinivasan, Hyderabad
This is fantastic. It is like going back to the sources. Ad fontem.
- Pers Anders Ohlsonn,
It appears that the singer sang for himself and the God almighty.
- Sudeshna Gupta, Hyderabad
These compositions would sail one through from night to dawn showing the vibrant colours of Hindustani classical music........... When I listen to the Darbari Kanada and Malkauns in the late hours of the night, I cannot think of anything but Diwan-e-khas, Buland Darwaza of Fatehpur Sikri and Tansen.
- Pratik Khastgir
I have never ever heard anything so soulful and touching,so passionate and ardent...His profound and poignant voice makes one feel that ,through his alaaps, Moni Babu is conversing and communicating with God almighty himself . My concept of classical music changed after I listened to him .
- Jayanti Dutta, Kolkata
This is not a commercial site. All songs featured here are available for free download. We request you to kindly read the texts in the relevant pages for complete information.
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