UW Ethnomusicology Archives concert recordings: Ram Narayan, 1981-12-13  PDF

Overview of the Collection

University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives
UW Ethnomusicology Archives concert recordings: Ram Narayan
1 items  :  OT - 1 vct (U-matic, sp, color); EC - 1 vct(VHS, sp, color); WD - 1 DVD (digital, stereo); Duration: 00:09:49
Collection Number
Portion of concert featuring Ram Narayan at the University of Washington Music Building, Brechemin Auditorium, 12/13/81; recorded by KING 5 TV.
University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives
University of Washington
Ethnomusicology Archives
Box 353450
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-0974
Access Restrictions

Unrestricted: collection is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Ram Narayan, an Indian sāraṅgī player, was born december 25, 1927 in Udaipur. His great-great-grandfather Bagaji Biyavat was a singer and established the family in Udaipur with patronage from the court. His great-grandfather Sagad Danji, grandfather Har Lalji Biyavat and father Nathuji Biyavat were also singers, but farming was as much a family occupation as music and the Sāraṅgī was not played. Ram Narayan's contact with the instrument as a child was almost accidental: the family's Ganga guru (genealogist and holy man) happened to leave his sāraṅgī in the house where the young boy tried to play it. Despite a reluctance to allow his son to take up an instrument regarded as both difficult and of low social status, Nathuji Biyavat taught Ram Narayan a basic method of fingering which formed the basis of his matchless technique. His main musical studies were with Uday Lal and Mahadev Prasad in Udaipur. In 1944 he moved to Lahore where Jivan Lal Mattu gave him a job as a radio artist, guided his training and helped him to learn from the singer Abdul Wahid Khan. When Lahore became a city of Pakistan following the partition of India in 1947, Ram Narayan moved to Delhi where he was employed by All India Radio.

Sāraṅgī players have always been primarily accompanists to vocalists, but by this time Ram Narayan was feeling resentful of the curbs this role placed on his own artistry and he became notorious and even feared among the vocalists in Delhi. This prompted him to move to Bombay in 1949. In 1954 he was engaged as an accompanist at a large music conference. His success in that role led him to try a solo but he was given a bad slot and the audience was impatient to hear the famous artists, so he was driven from the stage. Two years later, after further solo recitals to more intimate gatherings, he tried again at a similar conference, and this time his performance was a success. By then he had decided to devote himself exclusively to solo performance, an unprecedented strategy among sāraṅgī players. It inevitably led to difficulties and he supplemented his income with more lucrative work in the Bombay film industry. After earlier visits to Afghanistan in 1952 and China in 1954, he travelled to Europe and America in 1964 with his brother, the tablā player Chatur Lal (1925–65), beginning a successful campaign to raise dramatically the status of the sāraṅgī and bring it to a worldwide audience. He is an honoured and respected sāraṅgī virtuoso with many recitals and recordings around the world to his credit.

- Grove Music Online, Neil Sorrell

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Single unidentified item performed by Ram Narayan/sarangi with Ramesh Gangolli/tanpura; Prabha Rustagi/tanpura; and Suresh Tawalkar/tabla.

Original recorded on U-matic videocassette by KING-5 TV for South Asian Studies at UW; converted to VHS for Ethnomusicology Archives.

Sound cuts out suddenly at 7:15; picture continues for two minutes.

CD copy (VHS) copied direct to DVD 9/2006 (1 track).

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Classical Music, Hindustani
  • Concerts
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Sarangi
  • Sarangi
  • Tabla music
  • Tambura (Fretted lute)
  • Video recordings in ethnomusicology
  • Geographical Names :
  • Asia
  • India--Asia--South Asia
  • North India
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Video recordings
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Gangolli, Ramesh (instrumentalist)
    • Narayan, Ram (instrumentalist)
    • Rustagi, Prabha (instrumentalist)
    • Tawalkar, Suresh (instrumentalist)