Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, North India's greatest living bamboo flute master. Hariprasad Chaurasia is admired worldwide for his absolute control over the flute and for his blowing technique. His instrument is the bansuri , one of the oldest in India. The bamboo flute, whose sound is very similar to the human voice, has six holes that produce semi and microtones. Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is a very popular and eminent artist par excellence, known for his outstanding contribution in popularizing Indian classical music across the world.


Unlike many other great Indian artists, Pandit Chaurasia does not come from a musical family. Instead, music is a path he found for himself and he struggled hard to overcome all the obstacles that came in his way to emerge successfully with his courage, sincerity, hard work, devotion and dedication. He began his musical pursuit at the age of 15, learning classical vocal technique from Pandit Rajaram. He did this secretly, hiding it from his father, who wanted his son to carry on the family legacy of wrestling. The first time Chaurasia was paralyzed by the flute's magic was when he heard Pandit Bholanath on the radio.

Hariprasad Chaurasia and the Bamboo Flute 1


The flute sound was so beautiful. It transformed the environment around me. I thought I should go, touch your feet and surrender to that music. I took my friend's bike and drove to the AIR station where Pandit worked and waited. When Pandit left I fell at his feet and told him why I came. He needed someone to buy vegetables, groceries and run errands. He taught me whenever he found the time. This went on for eight years. It was the beginning of my musical journey.

In 1957, barely out of his teens, he became a regular performer for All India Radio, Cuttack in Orissa, where he worked as a performer as well as a songwriter. From here began his musical journey which took him across the globe. Transferred by AIR (All India Radio) Cuttack to Mumbai in 1960, he received further guidance from Surbahar musician Shrimati Annapurna Devi, daughter of the late Ustad Allaudin Khan and sister of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Under his guidance, his music took on a new dimension and he left AIR to pursue his artistic career. Since then, Pandit Chaurasia has been performing nationally and internationally, being acclaimed by varied audiences and fellow musicians such as Yehudi Menuhin, Jean-Pierre Rampal, among others. Pandit Chaurasia regularly tours the US and Europe and is a featured artist at nearly every major music festival around the world.

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, says his only ambition is to popularize flute music, there is a very important reason why Chaurasia still travels. For him, it is part of a mission that he believes has no end – to popularize the bamboo flute ( bansuri ).

This is my pooja. The long hours of training when I started, the constant traveling to quena towns for festivals, even the regular preparation before a concert is all about making the flute sing beautifully. I want the flute to be in the spotlight. Today, the flute is an important concert instrument that dominates the musical circuit; granted the status of the other instruments. This has been my contribution and I am working to keep it alive.

As a musician, Pandit Chaurasia is a rare combination of innovative and traditionalist. He significantly expanded the expressive possibilities of the North Indian classical flute through his masterful blowing technique and his unique adaptation of alaap and jod to the flute. His mastery of the flute, the new techniques he introduced and the traditional dhrupad “barhat” style of the Senia Maihar tradition to which he belongs and which he popularized decades ago, led to a new generation of flutists.


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