In addition to concert recordings, a number of interviews cast light on Nikhil Banerjee's attitudes to his work and art, to his gurus, to how he felt about teaching and performing, and how he adapted to western audiences.
Here are a few sound interviews in mp3 format-
Firstly, an interview in Bengali, 12 1/2 mins. I admit I have no Bengali so can not comment on content!
Another interview or lec-dem, possibly from AIR Interview/Dem, 27 mins.
A recording broadcast on KPFA Radio, San Francisco. 35 minutes. (First recorded/broadcast 24/7/1968?) "Broadcast as part of KPFA’s Festival of Indian Music in the summer of 1968, Graeme Vanderstoel, the then director of programs at the American Society for Eastern Arts, interviews Pandit Nikhil Banerjee one of India’s foremost sitar players"
Discussion covers raga and tala. Nikhilda talks of the 6 raga/36 ragini system, ragas for time of day and season. Raga is not scale, or melody, it is colours wich touch your heart and convey emotion and feeling. He describes learning and practising fixed elements of raga for years (maybe 8-10) before learning to improvise. Nikhilda disputes that the difference between eg morning and evening ragas is because of the notes employed. Nevertheless he explains what the notes of the scale mean. He says morning ragas raise from the infinite, Sa. In the evening the sun sets and returns from the third and second notes to Sa, tenderly and softly. He demonstrates, using Bhairav and Purvi, then explains a comparison with morning and evening prayer. He demonstrates Todi and Multani, again distinguishing between morning/evening ragas using the same notes. He muses on ragamala painting, and love and devotion in music, and developing mood through notes, with demonstration. The final sequence (hard to hear) discusses practical approach.
A 1984 recording broadcast on Gratz Radio, (?) Germany 13 mins.
Nikhilda describes his father and grandfather playing, but not as professional musicians as they were brahmin class. But Nikhilda is glad he was encouraged to follow his profession because music is the best form of art. He describes the learning system with a guru. The disciplined life means simple living, and he describes the daily routine, a hard life under strict discipline. It is necessary to respect and love the instrument. Music is a form of meditation to approach the supreme truth, and in performance to uplift the mind of the listener. A comparison is drawn with western classical music. It is important to play from the heart. Listeners may find it a little more difficult, but audiences are receptive.
Also from 1984 in Germany, a WDR interview, or more accurately the broadcast of a commentary on Desh after it was recorded in Cologne (?) 10/11/84 and broadcast in 1985.
A 1984 recording broadcast during BBC TV 17 mins.
Nikhilda explains his father was a great sitar player and his playing attracted him to the instrument. He describes the origin of the sitar as deriving from chitraveena, and demonstrates bending the string to play a scale. He explains relationship with vocal music, and describes practising 10-12 hours a day. Discussion turns to taal and Anindo Chatterjee demonstrates dhamar, bols and chakhardar. Asked to advise youngsters on learning, Nikhilda stresses practice. A short "lesson" for niece Seema Mukherjee follows.
A 1985 recording broadcast during Eastern Eye on UK TV, 4 mins.
Nikhilda answers a question about Gara, which he has just played, and describes learning from his father from the age of four. He describes a certain difficulty in entering a musical world occupied by about 95% moslems. He descibes buying a half ticket for "Mr A Sitar" for his plane journeys. He says that now sitar is popular all over the world, Americans being the most receptive audience. A short interview spoilt a little by the interviewer interrupting to move things along.
See also the interview with Amir Khan here
Text files and interview transcripts.
Raga Records 207 interview - a long interview transcipt, covering a number of subjects
And finally, a Lec-Dem probably at Berkeley, using Yaman Kalyan
Lec Dem 55 1/2 minutes
"For Indian music term.....’tan', 'rag', 'alap' ...look for definitions in Indian music reference books since it would be inaccurate (for me) to give simplistic definitions about a music whose philosophy cannot be separated."