Music that you can touch
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- Published 4.03.12
Tabla player Abhijit Banerjee travels all over the world. When he visits the city, his home, he is usually performing. He is in Calcutta now, but busy with a different project.
Banerjee (picture above), who has performed with legends like Pt. Ravi Shankar, Begum Parween Sultana and Pandit Jasraj, and has worked on “crossover” music with the likes of Ry Cooder, Larry Corryell and Trilok Gurtu, has come out with an English and Bengali version of a notation book in Braille. The 80-page Tabla Antardrishti (Bengali) and Tabla Innersight (English) is set for release at Uttam Mancha on Sunday. A cultural programme has been organised on the occasion in association with Diksha Manjari.
The Hindi version of the book is in the pipeline.
Published by his school, Dhwani Academy of Percussion Music, in association with Ramakrishna Mission, Narendrapur, the book will be distributed free among visually challenged music students.
The inspiration to come out with a notation book in Braille came a decade back, when Banerjee was performing for mentally challenged students in England. “Their reaction to my music was very touching. I thought I could at least help the visually-challenged kids come closer to music,” says the 46-year-old musician.
He approached the Calcutta Blind School in Behala and gave them lessons for free. His students at Dhwani Academy helped them out.
“We started offering scholarships to some of the talented students. Many of them went on to study music at Rabindra Bharati University,” adds Banerjee. But at the university level, his students faced a practical problem. They couldn’t read the notations and found it difficult to sit for theory examinations.
Converting Indian classical music notations to Braille was tough, for Indian classical is not too Braille-friendly. “Many lines and notes got me stumped for a bit. Converting western notes are far simpler.” says Banerjee.
The work took him eight months. Next, Banerjee wants to make V.N. Bhatkhande’s first modern treatise on Hindustani classical music available in Braille.