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    Pandit Pran Nath – In Between the Notes

    Pandit Pran Nath - In Between the Notes

    In Between the Notes is a 28-minute documentary film on the life and times of North Indian vocal master Pandit Pran Nath (1918-1996). Lensed on video tape in 1986, it captures a few moments of the elder singer near the last decade of his life. Interspersed with interviews, performances, and scenic shots of his native India, the brief biopic spans Pran Nath’s 60-plus year pursuit of purity in sound.

    Pandit Pran Nath began singing at age 13. Since his parents did not approve of this life path for their son, he was forced to leave home. After wandering around for a spell, Pran Nath eventually became a personal assistant to Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, who was the early 20th century master of the Kirana vocal style, which had been passed down from one generation to the next since the 13th century. Pran Nath served Khan for a nearly a decade, savoring the occasional music lesson morsel from his master, then spent five years with his body covered in ash singing to God in a cave near a temple in Tapkeshwar. Pran Nath may have stayed in that cave forever, had his guru not ordered him to take the Kirana style of music out into the wider world to keep it alive.

    So, Pran Nath did just that. Over the following years, he appeared on All India Radio and landed the occasional teaching gig. By the late ’60s, recordings of his massaged the ears of post-war composers like La Monte Young, his wife Marian Zazeela, and Terry Riley, who brought him to the United States in 1970 and became his disciples. For the next two decades, they managed Pran Nath’s material needs in exchange for lessons and exposed his singing to a much wider audience of fellow musicians, students and admirers in the West.

    In Between the Notes dates from later in this era. It’s an info-filled short that is simultaneously gorgeous and moving, including interviews with Young, Zazeela, and Riley, and a few tidbits of Pran Nath singing on camera. Although these performances are, of course, not nearly as powerful as those of his peak years in the mid-20th century, they’re nonetheless more than worthy to accompany any glorious, hazy sunset. And this film stands as a timeless document of one of the greatest musicians ever to sing a note.

    Label: Other Minds Catalog Number: OM 2001-3 VHS Format: VHS Packaging: Plastic case Country: United States Released: 2002 More: Hungry Ghost, Mela Foundation, Other Minds

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy

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