Pt. Jyoti Goho: Listening more than playing with harmonium

Posted by Kaahon Desk On June 14, 2017

An Indian Classical musician of highest order, Jyoti Goho is widely renowned for his Harmonium accompaniment. He had his initiation in the hands of Shri Deb Kumar Banerjee, Shri Sanat Banerjee, Shri Biren Bose and the legendary Pandit AT Kanan. Belonging to the Kirana Gharana, he is currently a faculty member at the Sangeet Research Academy of Kolkata. Right from 1976, when he began his career as a harmonium player performing in radio programmes as well as live shows, he has accompanied some of the greatest vocalists in numerous concerts across India as well as in countries like Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Dubai, Australia and New Zealand, China etc. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi always held great commendation for Jyoti Goho and his perfect accompaniment on harmonium. He had also played along the likes of Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and Ustad Rashid Khan on their albums of Hindustani vocals.

Talking about his first baby steps in the world of classical music, Jyoti Goho recounts an interesting tale of encountering Pandit AT Kanan for the first time and how he overcame his nervousness and fear and managed to blurt out his wish to learn music from him. Taking vocal lessons for the next stretch of period has been a tough regime but that all changed accidentally when his Guru heard him play the harmonium one day. While his schedule became even more rigorous, the focus was intense and the direction was well defined. JyotiGoho followed his Guru’s words to the T and began mastering the nuances of the instrument. In the course of it, he came in contact with various luminaries such as VG Jog and Mallikarjun Mansur. His breakthrough came when he appeared on a radio programme with his Guru’s wife and noted Hindustani Classical Vocalist Malabika Kanan in 1976.

Pt. Jyoti Goho goes down memory lane of changing tracks from Vocals to Harmonium

Jyoti Goho describes the teaching methods of his Guru Pandit A.T. Kanan as quite unconventional, when it came to harmonium. Instead of learning the ragas and technicalities, he was encouraged to develop and the art of listening and playing according to his instincts. He goes on to discuss in detail the various technicalities and nuances of harmonium as an instrument and it varieties in terms of both manufacturing and playing styles. While he admits that instruments like Saranghi and Violin probably can be better accompanying instruments especially for Dhrupad and Kheyal. However, harmonium still became so widely accepted and even the preferred choice for performers since one can modulate and adjust one’s voice with the tone and volume of a harmonium more easily than any other instrument. He demonstrates some of the technical aspects of harmonium, stressing upon the significance of both flexibility over the reeds as well as subtle control of air in the bellow.

Discussion on the subtleties which made Harmonium popular as a vocal accompanying instrument in Indian Classical Music

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