There are two parts of the NCERT Class 9 The Sound of Music chapter. Both the parts deal with music and the journey of legendary musicians who achieved excellence in their respective fields.
Deborah Cowley was a freelance writer and a broadcaster. She also worked as a reporter for CBC radio in Washington.
This chapter, ‘The Sound of Music’ is about two renowned maestros, Evelyn Glennie and Bismillah Khan. This chapter provides an insight into the journey of these two great legends in the field of music and the instruments they play. It teaches us that with hard work and strong determination, one can achieve anything in life.
The first part of the chapter begins with a seventeen years old girl who was very nervous about her first day at the famous Royal Academy of Music, in London. She was deaf, which was a huge challenge in her life. Evelyn Glennie was from Scotland. When she was eight-year-old, her mother realized that her hearing ability was becoming weak. She hid that from her friends and teachers. By the time she turned eleven, Evelyn’s disability became very evident to everyone. The headmistress of the school asked her mother to take her to a specialist. Her mother was told that her hearing loss was due to gradual nerve damage. She was advised to wear a hearing aid.
Despite her inability, Evelyn was determined to live a normal life. She wanted to pursue music. One day she saw a girl who was playing the xylophone. She too wanted to play it. Ron Forbes, a percussionist recognized her talent and told her not to listen through her ears. He advised her to feel the music through other senses. At that moment, Evelyn could sense that she could feel the higher drum from the waist up and the lower drums from the waist bottom. She learned to open her mind and body to different sounds. Since then, she never looked back.
She traveled all across the United Kingdom with a youth orchestra. She was determined to make music her life. She auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music, in London by playing the xylophone. She scored the highest grades in the history of the academy. She moved from orchestral group to solo performances. At the end of the three years’ course, she earned most of the top awards. She did not feel proud of her achievements; instead, she said that if one knew one’s goal then one could achieve that. She became the world’s topmost multi-percussionist and she mastered over one thousand instruments.
Music poured through every part of Evelyn’s body. She always felt the sound of the xylophone passing up the stick into her fingertips. She felt the beat of the drums by leaning on them. She removed her shoes on a wooden platform to feel the vibrations in her body.
She was awarded the most famous award of the Royal Philharmonic Society, the Soloist Award in 1991. She worked harder than a workaholic and she performed at many concerts. She also performed in prisons and hospitals. She was an inspiration for many disabled people.
The second part of the chapter portrays the journey of Bismillah Khan. Bismillah Khan was a maestro in ‘Shehnai’. The history of Shehnai says that Emperor Aurangzeb banned the playing of the instrument ‘Pungi’ because of its unpleasant sound. A barber reinvented the instrument by taking a pipe with a natural hollow stem and made seven holes on its body. He played on it by opening and closing some of those holes. The instrument produced a melodious sound. The emperor accepted the instrument named ‘Shehnai’. The sound of the shehnai was considered auspicious and so it was played in the temples and at weddings. Ustad Bismillah Khan brought the instrument onto the classical stage.
Ustad Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916, in a family of musicians in Bihar. His grandfather Rasool Bux Khan played shehnai in the Bhojpur king’s court. His father Paigambar Bux and other ancestors were also great shehnai players. When Bismillah Khan was three years old, he went to his maternal uncle’s house and he was very impressed by his uncle’s practice of shehnai. He accompanied his uncle to the Vishnu temple of Benaras where his uncle performed. Soon, he started practicing playing this instrument. Over the years, the temple of Balaji and Mangala Maiya in Benaras and the banks of Ganges became his practice grounds.
At the age of fourteen, Bismillah accompanied his uncle to the Allahabad Music conference. The opening of the All India Radio in Lucknow in 1938 became a big breakthrough for him. He started playing shehnai on the radio. He was the first Indian to greet the nation’s independence with his shehnai on 15th August 1947. He played Raag Kafi from the Red Fort.
Bismillah Khan has given many memorable performances all over the world. He also made music for two movies, which made sky-high records. He was the first Indian to be invited to perform at the Lincoln Centre Hall in the USA. He performed in many art festivals and trade fairs across the globe. An auditorium was named after him in Teheran. He was conferred with the National awards like Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. He was awarded India’s highest civilian award, the ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 2001. He always conveyed to teach children music, which is one of the richest traditions of India.
Though Bismillah Khan traveled all over the world, he loved his roots the most. He is a perfect example of an Indian who celebrated the rich culture of Indian music.
Q1. How did Evelyn Glennie’s mother realize that she was losing her hearing power?
Ans. Evelyn’s loss of hearing was a gradual process. When she was eight-year-old, her mother realized that she was losing her hearing ability. Her mother noticed that Evelyn did not respond when she was called to play the piano. For some time, she hid the fact from her friends and teachers. The ear-specialist confirmed that Evelyn lost her hearing ability due to a nerve-damage.
Q2. How did Evelyn hear music?
Ans. Evelyn listened to music through every part of her body. She could sense the sound of the xylophone passing through her fingertips. She felt the beats of the drum when she leaned on them. She would remove her shoes on a wooden platform to feel the vibrations in her body.
Q3. Who was the creator of Shehnai?
Ans. Pungi was played in Emperor Aurangzeb’s court but he banned it for its unpleasant sound. A barber improved the instrument. He took a pipe and made seven holes in it. When he played the instrument, it produced a very melodious sound. The pungi became shehnai after it was played in the emperor’s court.
Q4. How did Bismillah Khan bring Shehnai to the international stage?
Ans. Bismillah Khan became the first Indian to perform at the Lincoln Centre Hall in the USA. He took part in the World Exposition in Montreal, Canada Art Festival. He also took part in the Osaka Trade Fair. An auditorium in Tehran was named after him.