The Vilambit and the Drut

Anjum Altaf in The South Asian Idea:

Faiz_Ahmed_Faiz For many years, I sat with a teacher of Hindustani classical music, not learning myself, but watching him explain the complexities of the art to others. When guiding a student through the vilambit phase of a raga, the teacher instructed him to envision a child asleep: the singer should aspire to pouring honey into the child’s ear, to give it the sweetest possible dreams without waking it up. (Translating this instruction into English deprives it of much of its charm, unfortunately.) Once the student began the drut phase, the instructions underwent a dramatic change. In the drut, the listener must be kept awake and engaged, unable to turn away for the music. Instead of vilambit-style vistaars, the singer was told to use sargams and taans, to be like a firecracker. The two parts of the raga are completely different, as are the pleasures they offer the listener.

I belong to a group that exchanges thoughts on Urdu literature, and one topic of discussion has been the poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the difficulties of translating his work, and its place in the canon.

More here.