Maestros of Santoor – Vol 02


Kiranpal Singh Deoora  –  Maestro of Santoor

Kiranpal Singh Deoora


Born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa, on 13th December 1957, Kiranpal grew up in a Namdhari Sikh family with a strong musical atmosphere. The family later moved to England.  Kiranpal Singh’s first music study was the tabla, which he pursued under the guidance of Shree Ripdhaman Singh of Punjab Gharana from 1970 to 1977.

His potential as an artiste of the highest caliber was recognized by His Holiness Sri Sat Guru Jagjit Singh Ji Maharaj, spiritual guide and leader of the Namdhari Sikhs, on a visit to the UK, and His Holiness bountifully arranged for Kiranpal to be sent to Bombay to study Santoor in the traditional way under Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. He completed twelve years of study as an outstanding student, mastering the subtleties and intricacies of the instrument in such a commanding way, that he is now recognized as a leading disciple of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, and in his own right as the principal Santoor player in Europe.

Now settled in England, Kiranpal has gained respect and admiration for his various performances in the UK, Europe and beyond, in recitals, festivals and lecture demonstrations. Admired by both audiences and critics, his mastery of the advanced techniques of the instrument, combined with a creative flair and spontaneous imagination, has developed a recognizable individuality in his performances. He performs regularly in collaboration with musicians from other musical styles. This, in turn, has led him to be sought after as a co-leader of ground-breaking developmental and cross-cultural projects, whilst continuing to advance the presentation of Indian Classical music to ever widening audiences through his solo work.

Rag   Todi

Hanumatodi, more popularly known as Todi, (Sanskrit: हनुमतोडि, Kannada: ಹನುಮತೋಡಿ, Telugu: హనుమతోడి, Tamil: ஹனுமத்தோடி) is a rāgam in Carnatic music (musical scale of South Indian classical music). It is the 8th melakarta  rāgam (parent scale) in the 72 melakarta rāgam system. This is sung very often in concerts. It is known to be a difficult rāgam to perform in owing to its complexity in prayoga (phrases of notes and intonation). It is called Janatodi in Muthuswami Dikshitar school of Carnatic music.

Todi in Carnatic music, is different from Todi (thaat) of Hindustani music (North Indian classical music). The equivalent of the Hindustani raga Todi in Carnatic music is Shubhapantuvarali (which is the 45th melakarta). The equivalent of Carnatic Todi in Hindustani is Bhairavi thaat.

Rag  Bilaskhani Todi

Raga                Bilaskhani Todi
Thaat                  Bhairavi
Samay      Late Morning

Swaras Used      Komal Rishabh, Komal Gandhar, Komal Dhaivat, Komal Nishad, Shuddha      Madhyam.
Bilaskhani Todi is a Hindustani classical raga. It is a blend of the ragas Asavari and Todi.

It is said that this raga was created by Bilas Khan, son of Miyan Tansen. Bilas Khan is said to have created raga Bilaskhani Todi after Tansen’s death; an interesting legend of this improvisation (it differs only in detail from Tansen’s Todi), has it that Bilas composed it while grief-stricken at the wake itself, and that Tansen’s corpse moved one hand in approval of the new melody.

The Santoor

The Santoor is an exquite 100 stringed unique to the Himalayan valley of Kashmir. The santoor has been a folk instrument there for centuries but in the last 40 years it has risen to new prominence. It has the shape of a trapezoidal box, the sides of which form a 45° angle with the same. Strings are attached to the left side and tuned by turning metal pegs on the right with a key. Each group of strings is stretched over a movable hard wood bridge. Bridges are placed parallel to the sides of the trapezium. On the right, a line for the low strings, and on the left, one to support the top strings. The left strings can be sounded to either side of their bridges, giving in all three different string systems. With 72 strings disposed in two times 9 groups, 27 different sounds can be obtained, a rang of a little over three octaves.

The many strings enable an immense variety of resonating sounds that fill the air like waves. In a typical style of music known as ‘Sufiana Mausiqi’, the santoor has been played as an accompanying instrument with the vocalist and sometimes as a ‘Solo’ also.

It was originally known as the ‘Shata Tantri Veena’, which is a Sanskrit word for a hundred stringed instrument. All stringed instruments in Ancient India were knowo as ‘Veena’. Todays examples would be ‘Rudra Veenac Vachitra Veenac. The name ‘Santoor’ was given by the Persians.

Similar instruments are found all over tbe world like ‘Santoor’ in Iran, ‘Yang Chin’ in China, ‘Cimbalom in Hungary and Rumania, ‘Santoori in Greece, ‘Hack Bret’ in Germany and ‘Hammered Dulcimer’ in certain European countries and America.

The Santoor is played with a pair of curved sticks made out of walnut wood. It produces variety of lively tonal effects reminiscent of the Piano or the Harp. With the innovations carried out on it by Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma – the pioneer of the modern day santoor, it takes on a much wider range of expressiveness. “Modernists” have covered the tips of the sticks with felt to soften the impact and come close to a piano sonority, but traditional aesthetics require a fine, precise sonority only to be obtained with light hard-wood sticks.

About RAM Chandrakausika राम च 51

Ram51 is a researcher in the various fields of Musicology, Philosophy and History as well as old languages. One of his first topics is the wide scope of Indo-arabic cultures as represented in various art-forms religion and history. Below a list of selected Research topics which sum up partitionally the task of anthropological Frameworks in totaliter : Sanskrit Hinduism and Mythology Hindustani Music, The Muqhal Empire Gharanas from North India Kashmir Sufiyana The Kashmir Santoor Traditional Folk Music from USA Philosophy in Orient and Okzident Genealogy of musical instruments Ethnomusicology, Arabic Maqams, No Theatre fromJapan, North american poetry, Cultural heritage of mankind and Islamic architecture... View all posts by RAM Chandrakausika राम च 51

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