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.


video

10 comments:

raman said...

Nachiketa ji, I enjoyed reading this post and watching the Video of Shri Madan Kumar. Madan Kumar ji is a good example of self accompaniment on the harmonica.

reallity in magic said...

Great Nachiketa saab today you took ma long back in my collage days in Baneras where at Lauhabra Bir i use to go to hear his harmonica from BHU
on ricsaw in a chine's restaurant called Winfa and there was a joule box and we hv to put chaonenee :)) 25 paisa to listen desired song I dont know how many rupee i have spend on one song from Budha Mil Gaya ..Geeaa
Lagay Na hat of for GHC to bring forword such Jewls of Indian harmonica I am in touch with Madan ji on phone but say his current picture first time I remember his fase as i saw on some of his LPs records thans again to GHC for doing realy some thing very cravitive and positives in faver of mouth organ regards
Ashok Bhandari

AMRISH said...

Nachiketa Sir,
I use word "Traveler of HGC", who brings maestro. It is not possible for us to watch Madanji or Ashokji without your effort and time. I hope you will spend your valuable times to find the gems.
AMRISH SHAH

Tapan Bhatt said...

Respected Madansaabji,
Sirji, we still remember and talk about you in the club meetings on thursdays and sundays. some of us are carrying your cds in the mobile phone itself. many of us have copied certain beautiful effects from those cds.
We all hope to have you with us once again very soon.

amjadkhan786 said...

EXCELLENT SIR.......I REMEMBER THOSE DAYS WHEN U VISITED US SIR.....IT'S WAS A WONDERFUL MOMENT OF MY LIFE WHEN I WAS SITTING IN THAT HARMONICA MEET WHERE U WERE PRESENT SIR.....INDEED EVEN TODAY THAT FRAGRANCE OF UR PRESENCE IS PRESENT WHEN I LISTEN TO UR HARMONICA...MADAN JI I DONT HAVE WORDS TO APPRECIATE UR PLAYING..HAT'S OFF...THANKS TO NACKHIKETA SIR FOR BRING US THIS VIDEO OF UR'S.....AMJAD KHAN VADODARA.

harmonica club of gujarat said...

I humbly bow down to Madan Kumarji and Nachiketaji for this wonderful information and music as well. It is rightly said and we all believe that if the Harmonica is not encouraged by the younger generation, the coming ages would lose countlessly. The technics of Madan Kumarji and of course, Nachiketaji, yours is really full of grace. I wonder some times that every one in our group and over the glob plays this tiny musical instrument and each one has different kind of notes to be produced. It perhaps be for the reason that every one has different ears to hear the music and then to produce on the M. organ. Perhaps it is because of the fact that a learner had learnt to play this instruments from different Gurus. Let it be as it may. I am a student and will remain student for the life time to learn this little wonderful instrument.

Aniruddha Pandit said...

Dear One and All, This is Aniruddha Pandit from Nasik.like u all, I too, play and is fond of Hormonica. But thats my unfortunate part that I was not aware about the Hormonica Club. Recently from google I learnt about the same. Sirs, if I want to become a member what I have to do and whom to talk about ? One thing I would definitely appreciate that Mr Madan Kumar Ji is in touch with u. Recently I talked to Mr Saikat Mukherjee and also Mr Gautam Choudhary who is in Netherland. It was a pleasure talking to them a very purly human touch. I never felt that I am talking to Such Music maestros. Please do let me know about the Club Member of Hormonica. I am residing at Nasik.

Aniruddha Pandit said...

Do send me all related mail of the same.

Samrat Sen said...

I feel inspired reading to this article about MadanJi and listening to his Harmonica in youtube. I'm 28 and from Kolkata. I hv been playing Harmonica since my college days and never felt to learn it from anybody. But now after listening to his songs I think I must meet him oneday personally.. There is so much to learn from him..
- Samrat

Samrat Sen said...

I feel inspired reading this article about Madanji and listening to his Harmonica in youtube. I'm 28 and from Kolkata. I've been playing Harmonica since my college days and have never felt to learn this instrument from anyone. But now after watching his videos I've felt how little I know about this instrument.. I wish to meet him personally one day..