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Les Paul, the musician and his music

Les Paul as a musician has made many contributions to modern music including the introduction of the solid-body electric guitar and many recording innovations.

Les Paul may have had more influence upon the sound of modern rock and roll music than any other person in history. It was he who released the solid-body electric guitar that bears his name in 1952. It was built and marketed by Gibson, and, along with constant refinements and innovations from Les Paul himself, it has gone on to become one of the most widely used and respected electric guitars in history. Such noteworthy artists as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page are all associated with the Gibson Les Paul, but this is not Les Paul s sole contribution to the world of music.

Les Paul was born Lester William Polfus in 1916 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. His lifelong interest in electronic innovation began as far back as the age of nine when he built his first crystal radio. He began playing guitar at the same age and was playing semi-professionally by the age of 13. The production of a solid-body electric guitar had been a long time dream of Paul s. He began waorking in early 1941 on his design by putting guitar strings on railroad ties in order to test his ideas. He approached Gibson for the first time in the 40 s with his ideas. He was met with reluctance because Gibson did not often align with artists. They only agreed to market the product in 1952 when the idea became a viable option commercially. Les Paul was approached to help with the design and production because of his familiarity with the characteristics of solid-body electric guitars and his popularity as a musician. The result was a beautifully streamlined and attractive version of the plank of wood that Pau l had worked with.

By that time, Les Paul was already known as an accomplished country and jazz musician. He recorded two number one hits combining his talents with the vocals of his wife Mary Ford in 1951 and had also become known as the father of multi-track recording due to 1948 s "Brazil", a dazzling arrangement of six different guitar tracks. Sadly, Les Paul s musical career almost came to a startling halt when his right arm and elbow was shattered in a near fatal car collision. But being the dedicated musician that he was, Paul insisted that his arm be set in such a way that he could still cradle and pick a guitar.

In addition to his work on the solid-body electric guitar, Les Paul also marketed the first eight-track tape recorder in 1952 with the aid of Ampeg and has contributed greatly to the field of recording. He is credited with the pioneering uses of close miking, echo delay, and overdubbing. Paul has remained active throughout the decades, releasing a Grammy winning collection of instrumental collaborations in 1977 and playing in clubs throughout New York and elsewhere, but he will always be known for his help on releasing the guitar that went on to revolutionize modern music. The Gibson Les Paul has not changed much since its first release in 1952. Besides an updated bridge and humbucking pickups, the standard Les Paul is still the same guitar that both Gibson and Paul had envisioned nearly fifty years before. Les Paul currently resides in Mahwah, NJ and continues his musical innovation and work in his basement workshop. He is a member of the rock and roll Hall of Fame.

Written by Ryan Seagrist -

Bhairavi (Page 1 of 2)

Our voyages in the ocean of Raga have connected us with worlds both familiar and alien. We now stand in sight of what shall mark our terminus ad quem - Raga Bhairavi. A synoptic account of this melody, universally prescribed for ringing down the curtain on a Hindustani mehfil, makes for the final chapter of these chronicles.

The word "Bhairavi" derives from one of the eight forms of the Devi, born in the burial grounds. So fanatically loved and widely embraced is Raga Bhairavi that its elemental imprint is firmly fixed in the mind of even the untutored Indian rasika. Bhairavi is also one of the ten fundamental Hindustani thATs proposed by the great sangeetaggya Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande. Its swara-set hews to the 8th Carnatic melakartA, Hanumatodi (M =shuddha and m =teevra madhyam): S r g M P d n .

Although Bhairavi is a major league Raga, it stands apart from other Ragas of like stature in one important way: its use of all 12 swaras, a signal feature of the Bhairavi praxis. The five vivAdi swaras that are not members of the original set are implemented judiciously, without injury to the basic Raga-swaroopa. In this latter form the melody so instantiated is often termed "Mishra Bhairavi." Dhrupad and Dhamar compositions abound in Bhairavi. Khayal treatment is usually dispensed through druta compositions. Bhairavi finds extensive application in auxiliary genres such as Tarana, Tappa and Thumri. Vilambit Khayal presentations are extremely rare although such compositions have been conceived (eg. S.N. Ratanjankar). Outside the Classical realm proper, it is well-nigh impossible to tread without frequent run-ins with Bhairavi: it thickly inhabits every conceivable Indian musical form - Bhajan, Geet, Ghazal, Qawwali, Natyasangeet, Rabby Shongeet and so on.

The central Bhairavi themes will be first sketched followed by a brief discussion of the normative variations. Clearly, much detail will be left unwritten. The curious student will have opportunities aplenty to partake of the minutiae at the accompanying audio banquet.

The driving phrases of the poorvAnga are:

S n' S r g M [g] r S

The square brackets on the gandhAr denote a shake of that swara that is sui generis to Bhairavi. This cluster, if properly intoned, at once precipitates the essence of Bhairavi.

g M d P, d P M P (M)g, M (g)r S

The rishab and/or the pancham are often skipped in Arohi prayogas, viz.,

n' S g M d P

The uttarAnga forays are launched via:

g M d n S"

This cluster is very Malkauns-like. Since Bhairavi is a sampoorNa Raga, straight ("sapAT") runs of the S r g M P d n S" kind are frequently admitted. A more complete sentence is:

g M d n S", d n S" r" n S" (n)d P

Stitching together these elemental patches, a chalan of the 'shuddha' swaroopa of Bhairavi is formulated:

S n S g M d P, (M)g M P d M P (M)g, d' n' S r [g] r S

g M d n S", S" r" n S" (n)d P, d P M P (M)g, S r g M, (g)r S

The typical modus operandi for each the five vivAdi swaras is now outlined.

Shuddha rishab:

Arohi: S, d' n' S R [g] r S

Avarohi: P, d P M P (M)g R g, r S

This vivAdi R is frequently invoked.

Shuddha dhaivat: g M P d P, D n d P

Teevra madhyam: P d M P (M)g, g M m g r S

Shuddha nishAd: S, r N' S, d' n' S r [g] r S r N' S

Shuddha gandhAr: S r g M, M G M, S r G r S

The shuddha gandhAr is the odd one out and does not lend itself to as good a fit in the aesthetic landscape of Bhairavi.

The nyAsa swaras are S, g and P; in addition, M and d are often sought for elongation. As to the vAdi no consensus prevails. Traditionally, M has been considered for the role but in recent times the accent has shifted to other swaras. For instance, Jha-sahab argues in his classic volumes of Abhinava Geetanjali that d and G are the vAdi and samvAdi, respectively. These differences in outlook and interpretation notwithstanding, there is no mistaking the core of Bhairavi.

A variation known as Sindhu Bhairavi retains all the mannerisms of the parent Bhairavi with the rishab augmented to its shuddha shade. These days Sindhu Bhairavi is sung with both the rishabs and both the dhaivats. Then there are other variants such as Jangla Bhairavi, Kasuri Bhairavi and such like. These are relatively minor offshoots originating from the Bhairavi stem; I prefer to locate them all under the "Mishra Bhairavi" rubric.

This just about completes the prolegomenon concerning Bhairavi's internal matters. The Raga affords a wide compass for rumination and numerous melodic templates with which to direct and develop its motif have evolved.

Obiter dictum: The profoundly significant Raga Bilaskhani Todi is carved out of swaras from the Bhairavi campus. The kinship ends there, for Bilaskhani Todi is a horse of an entirely different colour with its special prayogas, its Todi-anga ucchAraNa and its meeNDs. A step into Bhairavi territory may deal the kiss of death to Bilaskhani.

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