Efter succén med Shujaat Khan-intervjun återpublicerar vi nu en intervju med Vilayat från 1996, av VR Rao, borta från nätet sedan riktigt länge, troligen från gamla Cyberabad. Här får vi veta hur Khansaheben såg på den ”fusion” som sonen talade sig så varm för, vad han tyckte om Allauddin Khan, och hur han förhöll sig till Shahid Parvez.
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What do you think of experiments with “fusion” of Western and Indian music?
I do not approve, really. They are two quite different systems with separate development. You have not even succesfully fused South and North Indian music – and you want to fuse East and West?
Indian music has a very long development, thousands of years. Most of the so-called innovations were tried out, tested and discarded long ago, you know. Besides, Western music scales are designed for several instruments – harmony – and trying out our music on their system doesn’t work, except as a novelty. By all means, experiment, but only after exhausting all our music. Many Western people (for instance in the US) are very keen to learn more about our music and culture. They do very hard practice. This is to be highly appreciated.
And do not belittle Western classical music. Their composers are very great musicians and should be appreciated. The systems are different, that’s all.
How about Western improvisation? Say, in jazz?
Improvisation has to be based on something. The composition, the composer’s ideas, the language and meaning, the musical phrases and movement, the taal, the raga, the fixed notes played alongside the raga, so many things – we improvise based on all these.
Improvisation in indian music doesn’t mean you are free to do anything. Only after thorough mastery of all these, many years of training, and if the guru has permitted you to “improvise” you should go ahead.
Isn’t classical music based on folk music?
I agree, classical music is based on folk music. But over thousands of years it has become a thoroughly researched scientific form of music. Earlier it was played in religious places, Hindu temples and Muslim dargahs, later, to some extent, in the rajas’ courts. But really, because it needs some effort and training to appreciate fully, I cannot call it a mass music. People want to “popularise” classical music? It’s not so easy. They don’t realise how deeply researched and far refined it is. It is so vast one lifetime is simply not enough to know even a little.
It takes one lifetime to understand it slightly. Then the entire next life to practise it. Maybe in the third, fourth, or sixth life you can do something. But if you don’t use it properly, you will not be reborn as a musician.
By the way, you are a devout Muslim. Didn’t the prophet Muhammad forbid music? the Taliban, for instance, say that –
Yes, I know. I think what is happening in Afghanistan is not correct. The prophet, peace be upon him, mentioned music was mamnun (to be avoided or frowned on) but not haram (absolutely forbidden). [Man noterar att Vilayat inte precis undvek musiken, dock.] Alcohol he called totally and absolutely haram. Also, on a related note, it’s not correct to try and destroy other people’s culture. I am not a Buddhist, but I respect the Buddha.
Why is there this image of you as proud and aloof?
Because I’ve never compromised for awards or fame or money. Heaven knows I’ve seen bad times. Practiced for 14 hours a day in Delhi, under a tin roof, in shivering winter and sweltering summer, plus a leaky roof during the rains … I have always kept this in mind. I have never, never, compromised or diluted my music, come what may. Thanks to Allah I am now well off now, I have cars and houses and no worries about my next meal. But more than that, I am content.
Whatever mistakes I have committed – and certainly I have made mistakes – were due to ignorance, not deliberately. For example, I was almost an alcoholic at one time. Time was when I insisted on drinking a full bottle of liquor and only then perform. I was so stubborn I would be in full control and no one would know I was drunk! But I gave it up in 1980, and I thought I was going to die from the pangs … but I gave it up, totally. It has helped me musically, too. All credit to my silent, long-suffering wife who never said a word all the time. If I am anything today it is she who is to take the credit.
Can you tell our readers something about musicians who have influenced you, other than your gurus?
So many are there ! Ustads Inayat khan, Imdad khan, Barkatullah khan, Haider Hussain khan, Alagh Khan, Hamid Khan, Rameshwar Pathak, Balaram Pathak, Waliullah Khan … so many are there. After listening to them … why were we born!? Experiment? They can experiment, not us.
Any more recent musicians?
Recent musicians? See, people will misunderstand. If I leave out some name, or bring in some name, there will be ideas about “emphasis” which I never intended. That’s why I’d rather not say … all the same, there are several great musicians whom I hold in great regard. Faiyaz Khan, Alladiya khan, Abdul Karim Khan, Bhaskarbuwa, Baba Allaudin Khan and many others … so many are there! My friend Amir khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Shanta Prasad … all great musicians.
What are you doing now?
I’m at Princeton, New Jersey, USA. I have several disciples, and they are progressing very well. My sons Shujaat and Hidayat are doing well, as is my nephew Shahid Parvez. My senior disciples are well known.