Sunday, October 01, 2006

Master Madan - Hindustani Music's Child Prodigy

This post owes a direct debt to Bhupinder Singh's recent entry on his blog. It has inspired me to bring together some scattered items about Master Madan.

Since his untimely death as a teenage boy in 1942, Master Madan has had a persistent hold on the imagination of music lovers in the sub-continent. The combination of his virtuosic vocal ability, his hauntingly beautiful voice and the tragedy of such a promising career cut short by premature death have given Master Madan a unique place in the sub-continent's musical memory. The surviving recordings of his music (eight in total) provide music lovers a taste of Master Madan's artistry and give some sense for why he became a phenomenon at such a young age. Bhupinder's piece provides links to two of his best-known recordings. The poet is Sagar Nizami and the music is by Master Amarnath (elder brother of the filmi duo Husanlal-Bhagatram).

The six other pieces of Master Madan's extant work were introduced by journalist Khalid Hasan in his article in Dawn entitled "The boy with the golden voice" on December 31, 2001. This article also has a great biographical sketch detailing his family background, musical influences and the sad circumstances of his death. The six forgotten recordings were discovered by Khalid Hasan's musicologist friend M. Rafiq. An essay by Pran Neville on Master Madan was published today in India's Sunday Tribune and includes a rare photograph of Master Madan (above and on Bhupinder's post). A lot of the facts in this essay are the same as the Khalid Hasan article but there are a few new interesting details.

I have listened to all six of these recently discovered recordings on the website . Sadly, for quite some time now the links to these recordings on that website no longer work and I hope they will be fixed so we can enjoy these wonderful pieces of music on the internet. More importantly, these recordings should be published so they can get wider circulation. These six pieces include two Punjabi songs; "Ravi de parle kande ve mitra vasda hai dil da chor" and "Baghaan vich peeNgaN PaiyaN". The other four recordings are "Gori gori baiyaaN" and the three bhajans, "Mori binati maano kanha re", "Chetna hai to chet lai" and "Mana ki mana hi maan rahi". The last bhajan (which the website conjectures is in Raag Soraath) is my favorite and is a beautifully melodious piece sung with devotional intensity.

Update: On a recent search on YouTube I found two of Master Madan's ghazals that have been posted by "Rajan". The first ghazal is titled "YuN na reh reh kar HameiN" and the second is "Hairat se tak raha hai jahan-e-wafa mujhe" (title of the second video on YouTube incorrectly has the word "zamana" instead of "jahan-e-wafa"). Enjoy:

YuN na reh reh kar HameiN:

Hairat se tak raha hai jahan-e-wafa mujhe:

Update II: I discovered all known eight songs of Master Madan on this site maintained by Mr. Surjit Singh.