a rare collection of  alaaps from Agra gharana

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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,

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
      IIT, Kharagpur

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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