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“Lahari”—useful for classical music

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The Economic Times, October 2, 1988

The Music Department of Bombay University sponsored an interesting programme of lecture-demonstration before an eager audience last week.

The programme was designed to show the working of yet one more electronic gadget, equipped with a wide variety of instrumental “laharas” usually employed in solo recitals of percussion instruments like tabla or pakhawaj and also for kathak dance recitals.

Styled “Lahari”, the gadget is compact and portable. Rectangular in shape and elegant in appearance, it is fitted with controlling knobs and push buttons to facilitate right adjustment of volume, pitch and tempo. It can be operated by use of battery as well as electric power. There are more than 60 raga “laharas” which have been set to 20 odd taals. Besides, there is a built-in metronome with every “lahara” pattern. Any desired taal can be conjured in vilambit, madhya, drut and also atidrut tempi.

As Mr. Pradhas, Mitra of Bangalore, who has fabricated it, explained, the “lahari” should certainly serve as a welcome substitute to human accompaniment, specially by reason of its precision in tone and tempo expected of “lahara” players on the sarangi or the harmonium.

However, as some of the knowledgeable members of the audience pointed out, there was further scope for improvement in the performance of the instrument, specially in point of continuity of flow (like meend) and such other devices.

It was a delightful experience listening to “lahara” presentations tuned to a variety of familiar ragas like Chandrakauns Multani, Pilu and Madhuvanti. But the most exciting part of the programme was a tabla solo by Sadanand Naimpalli, an engineer by profession but percussionist by choice. He reeled off an array of brief solo items in well-known and also complicated rhythmic cycles to the musical strains from the “lahari”. The variety of percussion patterns he unleashed in the process was astounding.

In reply to a question at the end of his superb recital, the young percussionist said that playing a solo to the accompaniment of an electronic gadget was a difficult feat that called for sustained practice. This means that it is much easier to get on with human sangat.

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