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In Between the Notes: A Portrait of Pandit Pran Nath (1986)
William Farley’s 1986 documentary portrait of the Indian classical figure, who considered by many to be the godfather of drone. Featuring interviews with Terry Riley, Mariam Zazeela and La Monte Young.
“Born to a cultured family in Lahore, Pran Nath grew up in an atmosphere of live performances of the masters of traditional vocal music. Illustrious musicians were invited by his grandfather to perform at their family home every evening. He was singing by the age of six and before long decided, against his mother’s wishes, to devote his life to music. He left home at age thirteen and studied for twenty years as a disciple of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, the foremost master of the Kirana Gharana, which descends from Gopal Nayak (ca. 1300), and is also known as the style of Krishna. Pran Nath’s performances on All India Radio since 1937 and at Music Conferences throughout India established his reputation as a leading interpreter of Kirana style with an exceptional knowledge of traditional compositions and the delineation of raga.”
— Composer Mariam Zazeela.
Pran Nath’s unwillingness to compromise his country’s traditional music and implement popular elements to appeal to modern tastes garnered him the label a “musician’s musician.” He soon became the world’s leading exponent of the Kirana style and soon began traveling the world to teach. The Indian classical master’s influence would be largely felt by the pioneering NYC minimalist scene, finding devout disciples in Terry Riley, Jon Hassell, Mariam Zazeela and La Monte Young, each of whom traveled to India to seek further tutelage.
During Robert Ashley’s curative direction at Mills College, Pran Nath taught artists working in a wide range of disciplines and genres. Avant-jazz performers Don Cherry and Lee Konitz; composers Jon Gibson, Yoshimasa Wada and Rhys Chatham; new age pianists Michael Harrison and Allaudin Mathieu; mathematician Christer Hennix; conceptual artist Henry Flynt; dancer Simone Forti; and many others were influenced by Pran Nath’s teachings.
Watch the full documentary below:
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