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The Sound of Music Summary Part 2 in English

The Sound of Music Summary Part 2 Introduction to the Chapter

The article The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan is an effort to understand the origin of shehnai, an Indian musical instrument as an improved version of the pungi, a reed instrument, which was banned by Aurangzeb for its unpleasant sound. It also narrates the journey of Indian classical musician Bharat Ratan Bismillah Khan whose playing of the shehnai enabled him to win national and international acclaim.

The Sound of Music Summary Part 2 in English

The Sound of Music Part II – The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan throws light on the origin of shehnai and the life of Bismillah Khan, the shehnai maestro, recipient of Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratan awards for his invaluable contribution to the musical world of shehnai. Hailing from a family of musicians, Bismillah Khan secured for the shehnai a place among the classical musical instruments. His improvisation of many new raagas and his originality won him accolades at the international level as well.

Pungi, a reeded musical instrument, was banned by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb because he found its sound to be jarring and shrill. However, it was revived when a barber, who belonged to a family of professional musicians, modified and perfected it. He took a hollow stem which was wider than the pungi, made seven holes in it and produced music that was soft and melodious. The barber (nai) played it in the royal chambers (in the court of Shah) and the instrument was named shehnai. Its sound was so appreciated that it was made a part of naubat – the traditional ensemble of nine instruments found at royal courts. From that time onwards, the music of shehnai came to be associated with auspicious occasions. It was played in temples and during weddings, particularly in northern India till Ustad Bismillah Khan brought instrument onto the classical stage.

Born in 1916 in Dumroan, Bihar, Bismillah Khan belonged to a well-known family of musicians. His grandfather, Rasool Bux Khan was a shehnai player in the court of the king of Bhojpur. His father, Paigambar Bux, and his paternal and maternal uncles were also great shehnai players. Bismillah khan took to music early in life when he was 3 years old in the company of his maternal uncle. At the age of five, he used to regularly go to the nearby Bihariji temple to sing the Bhojpuri chaita at the end of which he would be awarded a big laddu by the Maharaja.

Bismillah Khan got his training in Benaras from his maternal uncle, Ali Bux, who played shehnai in the Vishnu temple. His talent came to be recognised when Bismillah Khan was fourteen, in the Allahabad Music Conference. Later, when All India Radio was established in

Lucknow in 1938, he often played shehnai on the radio. In Benaras, the Ganga provided him much inspiration and in harmony with the flowing waters of the Ganga, Bismillah Khan discovered new raagas for shehnai. He developed such a devotion for the Ganga and for Dumraon that he declined the opportunity to settle down in America when it was offered to him.

Bismillah Khan’s shehnai ushered in a new era when he played the shehnai prior to the speech of Pandit Jawahar Lai Nehru declaring the independence of India in 1947.

Unlike other musicians, the glamour of the film industry failed to captivate Bismillah Khan. Although he contributed to the music of two films, Vijay Bhatt’s Gunj Uthi Shehnai and Vikram Srinivas’s Kannada venture, Sanadhi Apanna, he did not pursue this option further as he couldn’t come to terms with the artificiality and glamour of the film world. He was rewarded with national awards – the Padmashri, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. In 2001, he received the highest civilian award of India, the Bharat Ratna. He was the first Indian invited to perform in Lincoln Central Hall, USA. He also took part in the World Exposition in Montreal, in the Cannes Art Festival and in the Osaka Trade Fair. So well known did he become internationally that an auditorium in Teheran was named after him —Tahar Mosiquee Ustaad Bismillah Khan.

Ustad Bismillah Khan’s life embodies the rich, cultural heritage of India as a devout Muslim like him played the shehnai every morning at the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

The Sound of Music Summary Part 2 Title

The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan is the subtitle of Part II of The Sound of Music. The title is apt as this section deals with the evolution of the shehnai, a reeded musical instrument and the celebrated shehnai player, Bismillah Khan. Shehnai evolved from the pungi which had an unpleasant sound. Pungi’s tonal quality was improved by a nai (barbar) and it was played in the court of the Shah (emperor Aumangeb); hence it came to be known as shehnai. The title also celebrates the melodious music produced by Bismillah Khan’s shehnai. It recounts Bismillah Khan’s achievements and awards as a shehnai player.

The Sound of Music Summary Part 2 Theme

The main theme in The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan deals with the theme that music transcends all barriers. The author, along with highlighting Bismillah Khan’s achievements in the field of shehnai vaadan points out that it was Bismillah Khan’s secular approach to music that honed his skill in music and enabled him to create new raagas. A devout Muslim, Bismillah Khan began his musical career by singing Chaita in Bihariji temple and practicing shehnai in Vishnu temple and Mangala Maiya temple of Varanasi. He used to spend most of his time practicing on the banks of the River Ganges. The themes of his music were deeply affected by the sounds of flowing water of the Ganga. This legendary musician is an example of the secular cultural heritage of India that respects talent, irrespective of the religion of the artist.

The Sound of Music Summary Part 2 Message

Through the life and achievements of Bismillah Khan, the celebrated shehnai player, the writer teaches us an important lesson that Indian music and culture has a very rich and secular tradition. It is a tradition that has been enhanced and enriched through centuries by great musicians like Bismillah Khan, who,not only inherited traditional music but also enhanced it with their original contributions. In the words of Bismillah Khan: “Teach your children music, this is Hindustan’s richest tradition; even the West is now coming to learn our music.” The article also gives the message of patriotism and secularism.

The Sound of Music Summary Part 2 Characters

Bismillah Khan

Bismillah Khan, the shehnai maestro was a extraordinarily talented musician, a committed patriot, and a broad-minded human being.

Bismillah Khan is one of the most eminent musicians of India who not only inherited and propagated the rich, cultural heritage of Indian music, but also enhanced it by creating new ragaas. Bom and brought up in a family of musicians, he inherited and leamt a lot from his paternal and maternal families. His passion for music started at the early age of three and continued up to his death at ninety. Starting with playing music in temples and on the banks of the Ganga, Bismillah Khan rose to fame with international conferences and concerts. Such was his fame that he was invited to play shehnai at the Red Fort on the occassion of the independence of India on August 15, 1947.

A devout Muslim, Bismillah Khan was a liberal human being who had respect for all religions. He used to sing Chaita in Bihariji temple and play shehnai in Vishnu temple and Mangala Maiya temple of Varanasi. He played shehnai everyday in the Kashi Vishwanath temple, Benaras. He also further enriched the shehnai music with his improvisation of raagas which he based on the waves of the Ganga.

Bismillah Khan played shehnai in Afghanistan before King Zahir Shah, was invited to perform at Lincoln Central Hall, USA and participated in the World Exposition in Montreal, in the Cannes Art Festival and Osaka Trade Fair. Such is his international fame that in Teheran, an auditorium has been named after him.

Bismillah Khan was a great patriot who declined the offer of his student to settle down in the USA. He had a profound love for the Ganga in Benaras and his birthplace, the estate in Dumraon, Bihar.

His love for the rich cultural heritage of India did not allow him to succumb to the allure and glamour of the film world. Bismillah Khan’s contribution to music earned him many national awards including the Padamshri, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan were conferred on him. He has also been honoured with the Bharat Ratan, the greatest civilian award in India.

The Sound of Music Summary Part 2 Questions and Answers

Question 1.
Why did Aurangzeb ban the playing of the pungi?
Aurangzeb banned the playing of musical instrument pungi because it had a loud, shrill, and unpleasant sound. He prohibited its play in the royal court.

Question 2.
Why did the pungi become a generic name for “reeded noisemakers”?
The pungi was made from a reed and it produced noisy, unpleasant sounds. It became a generic name for “reeded noisemakers”.

Question 3.
How is a shehnai different from a pungi?
Shehnai has a better tonal quality than pungi. It is a natural hollow stem pipe with holes on its body and is longer and broader than the pungi. When some of the holes are closed and opened while it is played on, soft and melodious sounds are produced instead of the loud, jarring sound of a pungi. Thus, shehnai is, in a way, an improvement upon the pungi.

Question 4.
How was the pungi revived?
After Aurangzeb had banned the playing of the pungi in the royal residence, a barber who belonged to a family of professional musicians revived it by taking a wider and longer hollow stem and making seven holes in it. The opening and closing of these holes in the improved pungi produced soft and sweet sounds.

Question 5.
How did the improved and modified pungi get its new name?
It is believed that the barber (nai) who improved the pungi, played his improved and modified instrument in the chamber of the emperor {shah). From the combination of the two words shah and nai, the new instrument got is new name shehnai.

Question 6.
Where was the shehnai played traditionally? Why?
The music of the shehnai was melodious and soft. It was made a part of the naubat or or traditional ensemble of nine instruments found at royal courts. Soon, it came to be believed that it was auspicious. Therefore, it came to be played in the holy temples and on the happy auspicious occasions of weddings.

Question 7.
Although the shehnai was played in temples and at weddings. How did Bismillah Khan change this?
The shehnai was traditionally played in royal courts, temples and weddings. Ustaad Bismillah Khan, an undisputed shehnai maestro, brought the instrument onto the classical stage by adding new raagas and modifying old ones.

Question 8.
Where and how did Bismillah Khan begin his career in music?
Bismillah Khan began his career in music at the age of five by singing the Bhojpuri Chaita in the Bihariji temple regularly in his native town Dumraon in Bihar. At the end of the song the local Maharaja would give him a big laddu weighing 1.25 kg as a prize.

Question 9.
How did Bismillah Khan inherit music from his paternal and maternal ancestors?
Bismillah Khan hailed from a family of musicians in Bihar. His paternal grandfather Rasool Bux Khan was a shehnai player in the royal court of the king of Bhojpur. His father Paigambar Bux and many paternal and maternal uncles were also shehnai vaadaks. In fact, Bismillah Khan was apprenticed with his maternal uncle Ali Bux to learn how to play the shehnai.

Question 10.
Write a short note on Ali Bux.
Ali Bux was the maternal uncle of Bismillah Khan. He was a great shehnai player and was employed to play the shehnai in the Vishnu temple of Benaras. In fact, at a very young age Bismillah was apprenticed to his uncle. Bismillah Khan started accompanying him and got lessons in playing the shehnai from him. The young boy would sit for hours listening to his uncle and later practise throughout the day. As such he and may be regarded as his mentor and trainer.