78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Mr. Vishnupant Pagnis

Vishnupant Pagnis was one of the great voices of Marathi theater and early film. As these two recordings show, he was a hell of a singer.

Vishnupant Pagnis was an actor in Marathi theatre. At the age of 10 he joined Janubhau Nimkar`s Swadesh Hitachintak Natak Mandali in Kolhapur as an actor of female roles. His portrayals of Deval`s Sharada and Shakuntala in command performances for Shahu Maharaja won him popularity. He gained fame for creating the heroines of Warerkar`s first play Kunjavihari or `Wanderer in Gardens` in 1908 and Govindrao Tembe`s Shivraj Natak Mandali production in Hindi of Manishankar Trivedi`s Siddha-sansar or `Successful Life` in 1916.

The style of the celebrated Gujarati female impersonator, Jaishankar Sundari, is said to have influenced him. He appeared in Warerkar`s early silent film, Poona Raided in 1924. After his Sangitnatak career flagged, he taught music in a municipal school. A last-minute casting decision for the eponymous role in the successful movie Sant Tukaram or `Saint Tukaram` in 1936, he went on to play the lead in such“saint` films as Sant Tulsidas in 1939, Narsi Bhagat in 1940, and Mahatma Vidur in 1943, and grew famous as a Kirtan singer. He also headed a short-lived theatre company, Jagchhitradarshak Natak Mandali. Vishnupant Pagnis died in 1943.


He played the lead role in the film “biography” of the saint-poet Tukaram:

Sant Tukaram was also the subject of a biopic, title Sant Tukaram, made in 1936 by V. Damle and S. Fattelal of the Prabhat Film Company, starring Vishnupant Pagnis as the lead, and released on December 12, 1936 at the Central Cinema in Mumbai. The film was a big hit, and broke all previous records by running continuously for 57 weeks.[3] It also had won an award at the 5th Venice International Film Festival in 1937, and still remains a part of film appreciation courses.[4][5][6] It is preserved at the National Film Archive of India.[3]


These two performances are from the early years of the twentieth century. The first is the celebrated patriotic song, Vande Mataram:

Vande Mataram (Devanagari: वन्दे मातरम्); Vande Mātaram “I bow to thee, Mother”) is a poem in the 1882 novel Anandamatha by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay. It is written in a mixture of Bengali and Sanskrit.[1] It is a hymn to the goddess Durga, identified as the national personification of India. It came to be considered the “National Song of India”,[2] and it played a part in the Indian independence movement, first sung in a political context by Rabindranath Tagore at the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress.[3] In 1950, its first two verses were given the official status of “national song” of the Republic of India,[3] distinct from the national anthem of India Jana Gana Mana.

Vande Mataram

And here is Patita Deenoduranan, a “Karnataki geet” in Sanskrit:

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Mukul – “Haldi Ghaati”

Just the name Mukul.

This double-sided geet in Rajasthani sounds more like standard light-music performances, lacking the propulsive beat of traditional Rajasthani music. Damned if I know what “Haldi Ghaati” means.

Haldi Ghaati

Year 2, Month 7, Day 31: The Word for World

The July 15 Chicago Tribune reports on a new study that includes a teensy-weensy bit of good news about the ability of forests to absorb CO2:

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The world’s forests can play an even greater role in fighting climate change than previously thought, scientists say in the most comprehensive study yet on how much carbon dioxide forests absorb from the air.

The study may also boost a U.N.-backed program that aims to create a global market in carbon credits from projects that protect tropical forests. If these forests are locking away more carbon than thought, such projects could become more valuable.


The researchers found that in total, established forests and young regrowth forests in the tropics soaked up nearly 15 billion tonnes of CO2, or roughly half the emissions from industry, transport and other sources.

But the scientists calculated that deforestation emissions totaled 10.7 billion tonnes, underscoring that the more forests are preserved the more they can slow the pace of climate change.

A major surprise was the finding that young regrowth forests in the tropics were far better at soaking up carbon than thought, absorbing nearly 6 billion tonnes of CO2 — about the annual greenhouse gas emissions of the United States.

Maybe we should stop cutting down forests in order to make stuff to throw away? Just a thought. Sent July 15:

The societies that bear the brunt of tropical deforestation reap no benefits from their sacrifice; now it is apparent that the future of the planet as a whole may hinge on these woodlands’ continued good health. Sadly, in a non-localized global economy, those who profit from exploiting a commodity are hardly ever the ones to whom it originally belonged, and there is little motivation for careful long-term forest planning when a quick buck can be turned. How much paper do we throw away every day? How many lives, communities and ecosystems are grievously disrupted satisfying the developed West’s urgent need for disposable packaging? Our grandchildren deserve to inherit a green and bountiful world; the discovery that young-growth forests are hyperefficient absorbers of atmospheric CO2 underscores the importance of sustainable forestry everywhere on earth. Let’s take care of our forests — so that they may continue to take care of us.

Warren Senders

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Mr. Bhagoo of the New Alfred D. Company

Mr. Bhagoo, as the record label tells us, was one of the singers affiliated with the New Alfred D. Company, perhaps the most prominent theater group presenting Hindi and regional language drama at the beginning of the twentieth century.

His fine melismatic technique allows him to incorporate some tappa-ang taankari in this short performance.

Jake Chitme Chinta Buse

Year 2, Month 7, Day 30: What Would Teddy Roosevelt Say?

The Indiana Post-Tribune runs an article on the same NRDC-sponsored report on the National Park System and its vulnerability to climatic transformations:

Beach erosion, sweltering summer temperatures and fierce storms are well-known occurrences at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. But according to a new report on Great Lakes national parks climate change, these events will intensify over the next 100 years, along with loss of plant species and economic activity at the park.

According to the report, “Great Lakes National Parks in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption,” released Wednesday by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council, temperatures at the national lakeshore are projected to rise 5 degrees by 2070, the equivalent of moving the climate of Raleigh, N.C., to Northwest Indiana. By 2100, average temperatures may rise an additional 3 degrees, bringing the climate of Gainesville, Fla., to the region.

Maybe some of the denialists will wake up. Sent July 14:

The national park system is one of our country’s greatest treasures. Since its inception, Theodore Roosevelt’s visionary initiative has offered countless visitors a chance to experience nature’s richness, complexity and beauty, laying a foundation for the contemporary environmental movement. Now the parks are playing another significant role in educating us all about the dangers of climate change. Living in cities and suburbs, sheltered from extremes of weather by heated, air-conditioned dwellings, we can easily dismiss the signals of the natural world — but the suffering of a cherished park space cannot be ignored. The RMCO/NRDC report confirms that climate change is a present-day crisis, not the responsibility of future generations. Our national parks are telling us loud and clear: we must transform our national energy economy rapidly to a focus on renewables if we are to mitigate the worst effects of a century’s worth of fossil fuel consumption.

Warren Senders

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Ali Ahmed Hussain – Shehnai

Ustad Ali Ahmed Hussain may not be as widely known as the great Shehnai master Bismillah Khan, but he’s an extraordinary player with a beautiful tone and a wonderfully lyrical approach:

Ustad Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan of Allahabad, the acknowledged premier shehnai specialist of Eastern India was born in Calcutta on March 21, 1939. His grand-father late Ustad Wazir Ali Khan was the first to demonstrate Indian classical music on shehnai at Buckingham Palace. His father late Ustad Ali Jan Khan and gurus late uncle Ustad Nazir Hussain Khan and late Ustad Imdad Hussain Khan of Benares were also renowned shehnai specialists. He presents shehnai in a soft, subtle and sweet tone enriched with melodious and mellifluous patterns. The purity of raags in his performances is a hallmark of his steadfastness to tradition. He has taught shehnai at Sangeet Research Academy, Calcutta since 1974.


He’s still playing, and he’s got his own website.

Enjoy these two short pieces of light classical music for their lilting melody and graceful improvisations



78 rpm Records of Indian Music: The Twin Dramatic Party

This two-side-long piece is part of a drama in Urdu, based on the story of “Khosrow and Shirin”:

“Khosrow and Shirin” (Persian: خسرو و شیرین) is the title of several Persian epic poems. The essential narrative is a love story of Persian[1] origin, which is found in the great epico-historical poems of Shahnameh and which is based on historical figures that were elaborated and romanticized by later Persian poets. Variants of the story were also told under the titles “Khosrow and Farhad” and “Farhad and Shirin”.

Shirin Pharhaad

Year 2, Month 7, Day 29: Today Is The First Day Of The Rest Of Our Lives

According to the Detroit News for July 13, the worsening climate is starting to hit a little closer to home:

Climate change is impacting some of the major national parks in the Great Lakes region, according to a report released today.

Michigan destinations such as Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks and Isle Royale National Park were among the five parks studied in a report that targets global warming as the cause of a host of negative impacts on the parks. Those include:

Birds dropping dead at Sleeping Bear Dunes due to outbreaks of botulism.

Declining moose population on Isle Royale in Lake Superior.

Temperature changes allowing Lyme disease-carrying ticks to show up for the first time on Isle Royale.

The deterioration of shorelines at each park resulting from decreased winter ice.

The study was put together by the conservation groups Natural Resources Defense Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.

I visited Isle Royale as a kid when I was on a cross-country trip with my family. What a beautiful place. Sent July 13:

It’s been pretty easy for most Americans to dismiss concerns about climate change. Most people have believed for decades that the effects of global warming will be felt only in distant places or in the distant future. The NRDC/RMCO report on Michigan’s National Parks irrefutably confirms both that the Arctic and the Amazon aren’t the only places feeling the heat, and that the “distant future” has already begun. We can no longer claim ignorance; climatologists have predicted the disastrous consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect for years. What is happening to our National Park System is happening to our towns and cities, to our agriculture and to our oceans, and to the other countries with whom we share this planet. There may yet be time for us to bequeath a green and bounteous prosperity to our children and our children’s children — but the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

Warren Senders

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Pandit Chand Narayan

No information is available about Pt. Chand Narayan. These two songs in Raga Bhairavi and Sindhu Bhairavi are beautiful performances with a pervasive ethos that rises up out of the swirling distortion and surface noise.

Ghazal in Raga Bhairavi

Raga Sindhu Bhairavi

Year 2, Month 7, Day 28: Julia!

Well, I’m writing this on July 12, after an episode of considerable stupidity a little earlier today. I entered my usual group of search terms into google and found a link to an article debunking the climategate idiocy. I leapt to the assumption that for some reason these were in the news again…so I spent about half an hour generating a letter on scientific integrity versus the right-wing noise machine. A good letter it was, too.

Then I looked at the byline on the article and had a (facepalm) moment; it was about 17 months old. How did it wind up at the top of my google results? Damned if I know. So I put that letter away and generated another piece of boilerplate on Australia’s carbon tax. This one went to the Boston Herald which ran a generic AP feed on the Australian proposal. I’m linking to it from a drive to completeness; I cannot imagine why anyone would need to read it.

The BH is a Murdoch paper. Maybe by the time this post shows up online Rupert will be in prison?

Anyway, sent on July 12 to the Boston Herald:

The Australian carbon tax is an idea whose time has come. Despite the doubts of her constituents and the hostility of the country’s big coal companies, Prime Minister Gillard is showing genuine leadership and a long-term vision that American politicians would do well to emulate. She recognizes that carbon dioxide emissions pose a long-term threat to the world’s stability. If actions today can help reduce the terrifying consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect, all of us will benefit. Conversely, apathy and inaction today will bring a perfect storm upon our descendants. Fifty years ago, we had the excuse of ignorance; now, we can no longer plead that we were unaware of the dangers of a “business as usual” approach to greenhouse gas emissions, for the evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible. Our politicians’ unwillingness and inability to do the right thing will resound to their, and our, eternal shame.

Warren Senders