50 Maestros 50 Recordings by Amaan & Ayaan Ali Khan is a mini chronicle with summarized approach towards the legend who made milestones with Indian Classical Music.
Imitating octaves and notes of music, the book too meets few highs and lows. For beginners, this will be a good stater to do with. But for the one willing to have some holistic information on the legends will not find it adequately written.
The book begins with a read-worthy introduction which briefly explains all the terminologies associated with Indian Classical Music from Ragas to Taranas. Each chapter sheds light on individual artists enriched with their ingeniousness, fame & contribution to the Indian classical scene. And as a complimentary section, the most famous album of each artist are being mentioned and explained taking good care of interest level that might get enthused while reading (I kept on returning to my musical library and listening to them !). The authors also shares few unseen clicks from their own private album which escalates the selling point. Though authors zeroed in on all possible big names in their respective fields, I’d have been more than glad to see few great names names like Pt. Rajan Sajan Mishra, Pt. Ajay Pohankar, Ustad Shujaat Husain Khan, Pt. Vishwamohan Bhatt, Mallikarjun Mansur, Vikku Vinayakram etc.
There are few minor flaws that I noticed in the book which would have otherwise pronounced this one of the best book written over the subject. The word ’50 Maestros’ in the title ’50 Maestros 50 Recordings …’ is slightly misleading. It covers only 44 legendary artists and rest of the 6 are duet performances (jugalbandi) taking a repeat from the previous names itself. Few of the names that I mentioned above could have helped scoring close fifty and duets would have been better off as a bonus section (only Ustad Sultan Khan is an exception here who better deserved a dedicated coverage like others). Secondly, while maintaining an anecdotal treatment, the authors at times gets too personal for a book like this. I didn’t like the idea of them meeting an artist in concern (how, when & where) in almost every chapter which has little or no informational value to convey. They should have focused more over the biographical flow than their personal relationship with each other. Lastly, the Audio CD that comes accompanied with it doesn’t features all the songs from all the artists (can discard because of the possibility or feasibility as well).
Despite of few shortcomings, I’d indeed call it a pioneering effort by both of the upcoming artists in Sarod arena. The book talks about those great names at one place which will hold high regards for the generations to come. A must have for music fanatics who’d want a musical quick read.
Will call it a Beginner’s Guide to Indian Classical Music – just have it !