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Lessons from a legend

One of the most important legacies Joshi left behind was the special culture of voice production that he followed. A significant attribute of his magnetic voice was its volume. He began his career when the microphone had just appeared on the musical scene. A prima donna like Kesarbai Kerkar or an uncrowned emperor of the stature of Faiyyaz Khan could sing in the lowest pitch (C or white one) without the amplification system. Joshi, as a student of music, was brought up in this atmosphere and developed the technique of full-throated voice production. The post-Joshi generation of singers need to emulate the master on this point.

Joshi sounded terrific while singing ragas that oriented towards the lower octave such as Darbari, Miya Malhar or Puriya. After much prodding, he once told me the secret: "Omkaryukta kharaj. " This meant that a singer wove musical notes into a seamless 'Omkar', the primal sound, during practice and enunciated it for long hours. Another feature of Joshi's voice production worth assimilating is the uninhibited throw in the upper octave. It won him many admirers. But the most important lesson which practitioners of music should learn from him is this: never lose sight of the fact that music is essentially is a performing art. It flowers only when it succeeds in reaching out.

Joshi always thought a lot about what was presentable and what was strictly for riyaz (practice). On several ocassions, I visited him him in the green room before his performance. He would invariably sing a different raga in his warming-up session in the green room. He did not want his music to sound well-rehearsed.

Today, many musicians call up others slated to share their stage in a concert series to check what they planned to sing. This kind of planning lends a mechanical efficiency to their performance but that welcome element of spontaneity and lastminute fire which Joshi's performance had is often lacking.

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