Pandit Shivkumar Sharma
Dr. Jagadindra Raychoudhury
Melody is always evergreen which exists everywhere, the blowing of air which accelerates the action of leaves, the sound of drizzling rain, the chirping of birds and calling of sea water are all natural sound creators where it also persists a beauty of melody but the proper melody is created by various instruments themselves in a rock band, the vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist and bassist create melodious sound.
Actually, a melody is a collection of musical tones that are grouped together as a single entity.
Shivkumar Sarma started his career as a vocalist and tabla player under direct talim from his father Uma Dutta Sharma just at the age of five Shiva kumar Sharma, by birth belongs to Kashmir when the princely state persisted and where an instrument like santoor, a hammered dulcimer was very much played amongst Kashmiris especially as a folk instrument.
That particular instrument was originated in Persia (now Iran). Father Uma Sharma observed that santoor could easily play the styles that integrated Sufi notes with traditional Kashmiri folk music, so immediately he switched over to the interest of playing santoor to his son instead of vocal and tabla. Shivkumar started learning santoor at the age of thirteen and that journey was continued with full of devotion and honesty till his first public performance in Mumbai in 1955.
The santoor instrument is a trapezoid shaped hammered dulcimer and it is made up of walnut with 25 bridges. Each bridge has four strings, making for a total of 100 strings. The sound produced by santoor could be similar to that of a piano and chordophone, as it produces sound when the strings are struck with a hammer. It has a vibrant tone and a wide range of pitch making a versatile and distinctive.
It is obvious that Shivkumar imbibed the technique of playing santoor from his father initially but slowly and slowly he tried to change his track from folk to classical music and that could able him to establish it within a short span of time. No doubt, he recorded his first solo album in 1960 but decided to make some collaborative effort with renowned Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain , the famous flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia and guitarist Brij Bhusan Kabra to produce a concept album, “ Call the valley”(1967) , which tunned out to be one of the Indian classical music’s greatest hits.
Shivkumar with the partnership of flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia performed in India and abroad in many occasion and the sound of his strings made audience in a spell bound situation for several hours together. Besides, the classical performances Shivkumar composed a background music of one of the scenes in V. Shantaram’s film jhanak jhanak payal Baje (1955) and also played tabla in a popular song, “ Mo se chaal kiya jaaye” sung by Lata Mangeshkar in the film Guide which music was composed by S.D. Barman.
“The santoor instrument is a trapezoid shaped hammered dulcimer and it is made up of walnut with 25 bridges. Each bridge has four strings, making for a total of 100 strings. The sound produced by santoor could be similar to that of a piano and chordophone, as it produces sound when the strings are struck with a hammer. It has a vibrant tone and a wide range of pitch making a versatile and distinctive.“
Shivkumar also expressed his credential as a music composer with Hariprasad Chaurasia and both of them create popularity as Shiv-Hari and duo composed evergreen music in the film like Silsila, Fassle, Chandni, Lamhe and Daar but he wanted to remain in the original track of classical world. Once he said, “Classical music is not for entertainment, it is to take you on a meditation journey, Ye toh mehsos karne ki cheez hai.”
Shivkumar categorically awarded with many prestigious award one after another like Padma shri, Padma Bhushan besides the Sangeet Natak Acadeemi in 1986.
It is very much true that the renowned artists have always a very strong background which they inherits from their parents and that too continued to a highest peak from an individual’s effort and devotion. Artist like shivkumar was under that category and his name would be in scripted in the field of music because of two main reasons i.e. the santoor which was played only in Kashmir valley became popular globally and the sound of string converted to mesmerize into a classical tune. At the age of 84, on 10th May 2022 Shivkumar was no more with us but the sound of santoor always inspired us all the time in the heart of music lover ever and forever.
[Dr. jagadindra Raychoudhury, a Guwahati based columnist & Secretary, Vidya Bharati Purbottor Kshetra.]
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