Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Generation Next Picks Up the Baton

When Harmonica Club of Gujarat was formed two years ago, all the six founding members were in their late 40s and 50s. They had seen the popularity of mouth organ in their youth. They had also seen the gradual decline of the use of this tiny musical instrument with the advent of electronic keyboard and digital music.

The founding members made a conscious decision to perform in public parks, unmindful of the ridicule they might face from the public at displaying their enthusiasm openly. They thought this was an effective way to communicate with the masses and enthuse the young people to take up playing harmonica.

They proved right. Soon enough, several parents approached the club members with the desire to make their children learn harmonica. Founder member Paresh Bhatia, a music teacher, came to their help. He started training school children. The result is here for all to see. Aditya and Devansh, not even in their teens, have become good mouth organ players in less than a year's time. While they received their initial training from Paresh Bhatia, they achieved finesse under the able guidance of the veteran guru Manohar Vaidya, who has been playing mouth organ for more than 50 years.

Here is a popular number 'Kisi Ki Muskuraahaton Pe Ho Nissar' played by Devansh and Aditya under the tutelage of the Guruji at the Kankaria Carnival in Ahmedabad on December 29, 2009.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kankaria Carnival

(L-R) Alex Lobo, Chandramohan Bahadkar, Bakul Avrani, Bansi Gajjar, Manohar Majithia, Manohar Vaidya, Naresh Khandwala, Aditya Chalishazar, Devansh Shah, Pratham and Ayush Solanki, Yogesh Bhatt, Kumar Pal Shah, Sandeep Patankar.

The Harmonica Club of Gujarat was invited by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to perform at the Kankaria Carnival for the second successive year on December 29. The club members played 12 popular old Hindi film numbers. The programme was held on the bank of the Kankaria Lake before an audience of an estimated 2,000 people.

It was a team effort with all the songs being played by more than two members. We are presenting here the video of the opening number performed by all the members together. The star performers were the youngest members - Aditya, Devansh, Pratham and Ayush - all not even in their teens.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Maestro's Life in Pictures

Mouth Organ maestro Madan Kumar's tryst with music had begun when he was just 7-8 year old. He was a born genius. He had no guru. He learnt playing harmonica on his own. The life was full of struggle and hard work. He shared his life's musical journey with me through a photo album which I captured for the benefit of all the harmonica lovers.

Melodies from Mouth Organ Maestro Madan Kumar

I had the good fortune of being with mouth organ maestro Madan Kumar for a day. On my request, he was kind enough to play a few numbers for the benefit of The Harmonica blog. He had given us his audio CDs during his visit to Ahmedabad. The numbers on the CDs are a treat to the ears. But watching him play live, without the accompaniment of a full-fledged orchestra is a heavenly experience.

I first uploaded these videos on the Youtube so that they can be accessed by harmonica lovers across the globe. Here I present these videos to the discerning visitors to our blog.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A date with living legend Madan Kumar

The last time I had visited mouth organ maestro Madan Kumar at his home in Pune, I had extracted a promise that he would let me spend a day with him. So when I reminded him of that promise a few days ago, he graciously said, "Nachiketa, you are always welcome to come home."

Taking advantage of the year-ending holidays, I visited Madan Kumar on Christmas. I wanted to take him and his wife out for lunch in a restaurant where we could enliven our 'spirits' by imbibing a few glasses of beer. "The lunch is with us at home. Hope you won't mind having typical Sindhi cuisine," he said flashing his inimitable smile. "I have given up alcoholic beverages for quite sometime now," he added to my dismay.

"Sir, this time I want to learn a few techniques from you which I can pass down to the rest of the members of the Harmonica Club of Gujarat," I told him at the outset. "Sure, I will tell you whatever you want to know. I was glad to see so many young boys and girls taking up mouth organ in Gujarat. The generation next must keep this dying instrument alive."

Madan Kumar is a self-taught harmonica player. He had started playing since he was 7-8 year old. He had started his band in Pune in the early 1960s. He got his break in 1968 when the HMV cut his first record. "I had no formal training in music and used to play by my ears," he told me.

Because of his musical band, Madan Kumar came in contact with the great piano accordion player Enoch Daniels and guitarist Van Shipley, both based in Pune. It was Enoch Daniels who introduced Madan Kumar to music director duo Laxmikant Pyarelal. "Only great musicians had access to such established music directors of Bollywood. I felt like a dwarf when I met some of the musicians who played different instruments like piano, saxophone and guitar for great music directors," he recalls.

Laxmikant wanted to test the young lad and gave Madan Kumar a small composition written on a sheet of staff notations. "Tears started rolling down my cheeks because I could not make any sense out of the staff notations. I picked up courage and told Laxmikantji that I don't know how to read music notes and that I can try playing the tune only if someone played it on piano or any other instrument. Laxmikant ji asked his pianist to play the tune. I could somehow manage to save my face by playing the tune on the mouth organ," he said.

"I decided to learn reading and writing music notations and joined a piano class. For three years, I learned piano from a music teacher. I could now read notations and write them as well by listening to music," he says.

Though he had his own band and was being invited to perform at various public functions, the money he was getting was not enough to support his family. "My elder brother told me to come over to Spain to join his business there. I reluctantly agreed to go to Spain. That was perhaps a grave mistake as I could not maintain contacts with those who mattered in the film industry," he says.

Madan Kumar returned to India after a five year stint in Spain and took up harmonica playing and arranging sound systems for various musical shows, including those of established singers. He also set up his own recording studio, having mastered, through practice, sound engineering.

While narrating his 50-year-long musical journey, Madan Kumar allowed me to click photographs of his album. "Sir, as a dashing and handsome youngman you could have been a film actor," I said. "When I was introduced to Rajkumar Barjatya, the producer of the film Dosti, he regretted for not having met me before he made the film. Barjatyaji told me that I could have easily played the role of the physically challenged hero who plays harmonica in the film," he says.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kankaria Carnival............

A......N.......D.......we are there !!!!
yes !! once again The HCG will perform on 29th December between 6 to 7 pm on stage 2.
This time the members have decided to play with karaoke tracks.
15 states, 15 districts, 5000 performers to entertain 15 lac visitors in 7 days.... full of fun !!!
What are you waiting for ????
come on join us !!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

mere sapno ki raani kab aayegi tu ????

Sunday the Funday, once again we were invited by the authoroties of Kankaria Lake. Nachiketa played a very famous song 'Mere sapno ki raani kab aayegi tu...'
It was a real fun and all the players went there with their family members.
The train which we see is the Bajpai Express imported from U.K.
Many queens wanted to get down but the train did not stop...!!
Anyway !!! next time...


Friday, December 4, 2009

He customizes Harmonica

The research and development wings of all leading manufacturers of harmonica in the world can make a killing if they follow this man from the small pilgrim town of Shirdi in Maharashtra.

Kiran Parikh, who owns a shop in Shirdi, has assembled a harmonica using the comb of a 12-hole instrument and fixing reeds of ascending and descending notes of an Indian raga from about a dozen other harps.

He plays this instrument to produce complex melodies based on that particular raga without using a slider to change the scale and produce half notes. He has assembled harmonicas on which two Indian ragas - Bhairavi and Yaman - can be played without a scale-changer. He now has plans to assemble customized harmonicas each for different Indian ragas.

Kiran has in his personal collection over 650 harmonicas, most of which he has bought from the 'Chor Bazar' of Mumbai at throwaway prices.

Kiran has been playing harmonica for over 30 years, having begun with the Chinese make 'Hero' instrument. He used to be greatly disappointed with himself when he could not play several popular Hindi film songs because these required using half notes. He was unable to understand why he was not able to play these songs. Having heard about famous harmonica player Bhanu Gupta, who was assistant to Rahul Dev Burman, Kiran went to meet him in Mumbai where, for the first time, he saw a Chromatic harmonica.

From 'Hero', Kiran switched over to a Chromatic harmonica and could soon start playing songs he had long desired to play but was not able to because he did not have a 'scale-changer'. He would visit Mumbai twice or thrice a week and quietly sit and listen to Bhanu Gupta play. Like the Eklavya of Mahabharata, who had learnt archery from Guru Drona from a distance, Kiran too started learning from Bhanu Gupta by just listening to him play.

After he watched a TV programme in which legendary harmonica player Firoze Damri was leading a symphony of over 50 harmonica players, Kiran went to Mumbai to meet the maestro. Firoze Damri taught Kiran for four years the intricacies of playing this tiny instrument. The Guru was so impressed by the Shishya's patience and perseverance that he gifted his entire collection of harmonicas to Kiran before his death.

Kiran was in Ahmedabad on a short visit when Harmonica Club of Gujarat Secretary Tapan Bhatt took the opportunity of letting the members of the Harmonica Club meet and listen to him.

Here are a few songs from this great innovator of customized harmonica:

1. Dil Ek Mandir Hai


2. Mohe Bhool Gaye Saawariya


3. Ai Mere Pyaare Watan


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What a beautiful way of our introduction to you.

Secretary of Gramophone club Milan Joshi, introduced all the players to his club members.
We thought of posting this particular video on the blog, so that guests of our blog can also know the players by name.
Milan shah promised Manohar Vaidya a seperate programme on Harmonica.
I take liberty to inform the guests that in the second week of January the HCG will release an AUDIO CD containing nostalgic hindi songs played on Harmonica. This CD will contain the group songs, solo performances and duets too...


Jiyo JEE Bharke.....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Group Performance in Gramophone club

All the members of HCG performed in Tagore Hall, Ahmedabad, on 14th November.
All the members had practiced very hard to make this surprise item successful and memorable to everyone.
This curtain raiser song was kept as secret by the committee members of the Gramophone club.
Composer, music director and singer Shri. Dilip Dholakia himself was present there with a Gujarati Film personality Mr.Upendra Trivedi. As the song progressed the audiance started clapping and at the end Dilip Dholakia himself stood up and cheered up all the players and their performance.
This time the kids had taken the responsibility to play preludes and interludes with Manohar Vaidya, Paresh Bhatia and Tapan Bhatt.
Tari Aankh no Afini, Tara bol no bandhani......
They promised us a complete programme on Harmonica....
Mission continues....


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Passion for Harmonica

On 13 November, 2009, as many as 6,131 harmonica players players performed together in Hong Kong, finding a place in the Guinness Book of World record. This tiny musical instrument is so popular in South East Asia and the US. Long way to go for us Indian harmonica lovers.

Khandelwal : A repository of knowledge

If you have any confusion or doubt about which harmonica to buy and from where, ask Raman Khandelwal who has been gathering a whole lot of information about this tiny musical instrument. I met Raman recently on my visit to Jaipur.

A strapping young man, Ram is full of enthusiasm. "I am reading up as much material on mouth organ as possible by searching the Internet. It is like sharpening the axe before beginning to cut a tree. I want to gain theoretical knowledge about harmonica first and then start putting it into practice," he says.

Raman is very active on the Harmonica India Yahoo group.

He can be contacted on his mobile at 09413341725.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saaz Aur Awaaz: Pop Gujarati Song

Ahmedabad's Gramophone Club invited the Harmonica Club of Gujarat to play just one song at their first-ever 'Only Gujarati Songs' programme at the Tagore Hall. This was a challenge for all the members of the Harmonica Club because so far they had been only practicing and playing popular Hindi film songs. The song that the Gramophone Club asked the HCG was 'Taari Aankh No Afini', a 1948 number originally sung by Dilip Dholakia. This was particularly challenging for the youngest members who had never heard the song. However, a CD of the original song was procured and played before the members several times over till they remembered the tune by heart. Members started practicing the song twice a week.

Three days before the function, the office-bearers of the Gramophone Club wanted to listen to the HCG to satisfy themselves that the song had been played to the perfection. After all, it was to be performed before an audience that comprise of well-known Gujarati musicians, including the legendary Dilip Dholakia. The test performance was held on the sprawling lawn of Bansi Gajjar's bungalow on November 11.

We present here the original song sung by Dilip Dholakia followed by the rendition of the song by the HCG members.

Awaaz by Dilip Dholakia

Saaz: Mouth Organ by members of Harmonica Club of Gujarat


Sunday, November 1, 2009

A date with Mouth Organ Maestro Madan Kumar

Madan Kumar is humility personified. Maestros are like that. The greater heights they achieve in their profession, more humble they become, just like a fruit-bearing tree which bows down as they are laden with fruits.

When I called him up to say, "Sir, I am coming to Pune", he said, "Hop over to my place on Sunday." Madan Kumar lives in the central business district of Pune in a studio apartment on the MG Road.

Both his children, a son and daughter, are married. Son lives in San Fransisco and daughter in Mumbai. In their Pune apartment, only Madan Kumar and his wife live. Having spent 60 years playing mouth organ, Madan Kumar, now 67, cannot live without music. So, he has converted his living room into a small make-shift recording studio.

He squats on the ground on a matress, offering me the sofa to sit on. Like a child, he shows me his collection of harmonicas - all from M Hohner, Germany, except one from Hering. Some of the harmonicas have become collector's pieces as Hohner has stopped making them. There is a harmonica with solid silver body, weighing 300 grams. There is a double bass harmonica and a complete set of CX-12 in G, C, Bb, E and F scales.

Madan Kumar has mastered the various techniques of playing mouth organ - vamping, chording, tounging, vibrato, bending notes to be able to become a one-man orchestra. "I have become a sound engineer by experience," says Madan Kumar, who had to give up his studies after matriculation to take up a job in the construction industry as a labour supervisor.

To complete a song, Madan Kumar, while playing the lead, also records on different tracks chords, octave playing, special effects in the form of vibrator and vamping, which he then mixes on a digital editing device.

Past few years, Madan Kumar has been teaching youngsters. "Only if the new generation takes up playing harmonica that this little instrument has any chance of surving the onslaught of electronic synthesizers," he says.

On one of his visits to his son in San Fransisco, Madan Kumar had presented his five-year-old grandson Pranav, a harmonica. The little one, after blowing into the instrument for some time, had kept it aside till he saw his grandpa's video on the Harmonica Club of Gujarat blog recently. "Look, that's grandpa playing mouth organ," he exclaimed excitedly to his dad.

Pranav fished out the mouth organ his grandpa had given him and began playing. "Why are you moving your fingers like that?" the dad asked. "That's the way grandpa plays," the boy explained non-challantly.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Magic with a Puck

Puck is among the smallest of harmonicas from the stable of M Hohner, Germany. It is a small wonder which produces melodious music. The instrument has only ten holes and does not have half notes. With cupping and by bending notes, an expert can play many a tunes which only a chromatic harmonica can produce.

Here is a popular number from the film 'Aradhana' played on Puck by Ashok Bhandari.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Behti Hai Ganga Vahan Mera Dhaam

Ashok Bhandari and I met in Banaras in 1974. We were studying in the same class in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He was staying in a hostel, while I lived with my parents. I had been playing harmonica since I was 7-year-old. Ashok had just started learning harmonica. He was particularly fascinated by my playing the Jewel Thief song, 'Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara', which involved changing scales quite frequently.

Since then, a lot of water has flown down the Ganga river. Ashok not just learned harmonica but became a maestro. He became a professional magician and used to always end his magic shows with a few numbers from Hindi film on the harmonica.

Here is a song from the film 'Jis Des Mein Ganga Behti Hai':


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Magic with Mouth Organ: A La Ashok Bhandari

I met Ashok Bhandari, my college mate, after 35 years. Three years ago, he had found me through the Internet and since then we have been in touch with each other over phone, e-mail and chat. I had seen his performance on Youtube. Some harmonica players, after watching his videos, had expressed doubt that Ashok used some digital editing tools to create special effects.

However, when I met him face to face at his studio apartment in Delhi and heard him play I was wonderstruck by his talent and skill.

Listen to the Lara's Theme from Doctor Zhivago that he played for me:


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ajeeb Dastaa Hai Ye: Dc Ab Rp Ak

I still remember their first visit to Destination 5 in Ahmedabad. Paresh Bhatia had asked me to attend the programme on his behalf, as he had to go to Dubai.
I used to play 'Ham Honge Kamyab' song with many mistakes. But soon after the programme I managed to meet Apoorva Bhatt and he immediately invited me to Vadodara promising that he would surely teach me some techniques. And Harmonica got a special place in my life.
Strangers became friends!!!!
There is a long story in between this but some other time .......
Ajeeb Dasta hai ye................
Dilip Sinh Chavan, Apoorva Bhatt, Rupesh Parmar and Amjad Khan......


Friday, September 25, 2009

Hawa me udata jaaye : Manohar and manhar in action

Manohar and Manhar took off very smoothly to catch the 'lal dupatta' !!
There was a time when Manhar Majithia used to play the 'sionara song' , meaning the last song !!
Today he is playing in top ten, proving the fact that age has no limitations, if one really want to achieve something. Despite the reality of breath problems, he has brought himself up to this level.
As usual Manohar Vaidya ..up to the mark....


Monday, September 21, 2009

Master Blaster: Kavit Shastri

Kavit Shastri and Manohar Vaidya met just before the programme and decided to play this song together. His matured way of playing made all of us completely speechless and surprised. Just look at his body language, exhibiting very high level of self confidence.
HCG is very proud to have seven such Tendulkars who are yet to be properly introduced to the world of Harmonica.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

He prefers to play difficult songs....

'Maang ke Saaath Tumhara' is really a difficult song and we have been noticing Aditya's willingness to play such songs only. His entry was never noticeable, when he joined the club

Silent, sweet, sincere and shy that he is !!!

He has captured a leading position in HCG, without any exposure. Today when we prepare the list of songs for any programme, Aditya is in top ten. All the senior members have accepted this little champ as another Vaidyaji.
' He has the spark !!, mark my words ' -Apoorva Bhatt told me very silently after he played this song.
I must congratulate his parents for their efforts to make him play an instrument which has lost its place today....I am sure these young kids will try and get the same respect back to little harmonicas.

Maang ke Saath Tumhara : Aadiieeeee the little champ ..

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nazar na Lag Jaaye in chaaro friends ko !!!!!!

Truly nazar na lag jaaye !!! These four freedom fighters have been proving their worth every time they are on the stage with harmonicas!!

Needless to mention the capacity of these four members of HCG
Very soon we are going to perform in Vadodara with other harmonica members of HCG.
Chavanji, Apoorva Bhatt, Rupesh and Amjad Khan for you............


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ramaiya Vasta Vaiya : Devansh Shah

Devansh has been improving day by day and also setting up an example to the entire new community of young children. I think these young kids will keep harmonica alive for many years. We always find young children stopping for a while with a surprise to know more about the instrument ' Harmonica '

Manohar Vaidya accompanied him and truly, the song was a super HIT in Nadiad.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Gore Gore : Paresh Bhatia

Paresh Bhatia played this fast song and changed the mood from romance to masti... a step ahead :-)
I always feel proud to mention his capcity of writing the notations of any song, in original scale, within a few minutes. His mobile no is 09879048751 just try !!!
He has been training me and the young members of the club.
Always smiling, ready to help and dedicated to the club... Thank you Paresh sir...ji...
Both the coming programmes of 25th and 27th are arranged by him. On 25th the club is performing for a Bengali group and on 27th in Gandhinagar (the capital of Gujarat) , for the IAS officers meet.
Next month we will be performing in a very famous engineering college expacting the audiance of approx 1500 students + staff.
Anyone to join us ??????


Friday, September 4, 2009

Chaudavi ka chhand : Truely a man of melody

A man of melody as we call him, played this romantic song and all the senior citizens regressed themselves in to their love age.
Manohar Vaidya plays more than 300 songs WITH music, not only that he guides all of us even when we make mistakes. He would say "if you play like this it would sound better".
" Manoharji, you do not miss a single note, I am really very happy" Madan Kumarji said this about the melody man.....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

E Malik Tere Bande Hum: Pankhar NI Haash

Jai Maharaj...
When they started playing the song, everyone present in the hall was mesmerized. Though there was a limitation of sound system, this song created the hypnotic effect in the hall and the musical journey started......
One very important fact I would like to mention here is that, Our Amjadbhai Pathan was having Roja, and all Muslim brothers do not eat, drink or put anything in mouth before certain time, but as he is always committed to the HCG and has responsible role to play in the programme, kept all the rules aside and played for this noble cause. Special thanks to him from all of us.
The Hall was packed with 200 most disciplined, knowledgeable senior citizens.

After the programme we got a chance to see Shri Ram Dasji Maharaj in the Santram Mandir.

Truly it was a wonderful and memorable experience.

Two more programmes are coming up on 25th and 27th. Invitations to all.......
Apoorva Bhatt, Dilipsinh Chavan, Rupesh Parmar and Amjad Khan Pathan


Thursday, August 20, 2009

When veteran relives his youth

Manohar Majithia, 67, is the eldest member of the Harmonica Club of Gujarat. Before he joined the club, he had cut a CD in a professional sound recording studio. However, after he heard some of the players perform in a public park in Ahmedabad, he realised that he needed a lot of improvement. First of all, he had to change his instrument, the Chinese make 'Hero', to a chromatic one. After he bought Chromonica 280 from M Hohner, Germany, Majithia started practicing rigorously.

He has acute respiratory problem and runs out of breath while playing. However, this did not deter him from playing. Whenever, the club decides to stage a public performance he is among the first to enlist. So enthusiastic he is that he submits a list of 4-6 songs that he wants to play at the public function.

Here he presents one of the oldest number sung by Lata Mangeshkar:


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Manohar Vaidya: Master of Melody

Manohar Vaidya has been playing mouth organ for over 50 years now, without break. In his earlier years, he had learned violin. He also plays keyboard without even looking at the keys. He is known for detailing. Members of the Harmonica Club of Gujarat are fortunate to have him as their guru who is ever ready to help everyone. The club is incomplete without him. You name a song, and Vaidyaji would play it to perfection.

Here is a masterpiece from him:


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Genext is Promising: Aditya

When mouth organ maestro Madan Kumar visited the Harmonica Club of Gujarat on last 'Friendship Day' he was thrilled to listen to young Aditya play mouth organ. "It is for the young generation to promote this lovely instrument now," he said.

Aditya plays here a popular number from the film Kashmir Ki Kali. The music is by OP Nayyar.


Our Sunday Practice

Members of Harmonica Club of Gujarat have been playing in a public garden every Sunday ever since the club was formed more than a year ago. Here are a few recordings of the August 16,2009 practice session.

1. Lakho Hain yahan dilwaale


2. Yaad Kiya Dil Ne Kaha Ho Tum


Friday, August 14, 2009

Jo Shaheed Huye Hain Unki Jara Yaad Karo Qurbani

For the Independence Day, Devansh Shah played this immensely popular patriotic song which had made India's first Prime Minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru cry while listening to Lata Mangeshkar singing it. The song was composed by C Ramachandra and the lyrics were by Pradeep.

Devansh has been learning harmonica from Paresh Bhatia, who teaches music to school children in Ahmedabad. For this Independence Day special, Paresh Bhatia accompanied Devansh on bongos.


Old is Gold

Apoorva Bhatt was not even born when blockbuster black and white bollywood film 'Goonj Uthi Shehnai' was released in 1959. Starring Rajendra Kumar and Amita, the film became a hit primarily because of its lilting songs.

The music director was Vasant Desai, who used the Indian classical musical instrument Shehnai so successfully that the background scores became tear jerkers. The king of playback singing, Mohammed Rafi's mellifluous voice made the film's songs immortal.

We first present here the haunting song - 'Keh do koyi na kare yahan pyaar' - in Rafi Sahab's voice. We will then present the same song's rendition on mouth organ by Apoorva Bhatt.

And, now Apoorva Bhatt on harmonica playing the song 50 years after the release of the film: