Interview with Jyoti Goho–a harmonium player par excellence

Jyoti Goho is an accomplished artist in the world of Hindustani classical music, noted for his astute sense of subtlety in the art of Harmonium accompaniment. He is one of the most sought after Harmonium artists and in great demand among the leading vocalists of the country.

Much known for his sensitive playing and appropriate embellishments, thereby enhancing the level of vocal performance to a significant extent, Jyoti Goho has been fortunate to have received accolades from one of the most treasured vocalists of all times, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi – with whom he has accompanied many times, among several other top vocalists — as being “extremely supportive as a Harmonium accompanist”. Jyoti Goho has performed in all the major music conferences of the country and toured virtually the length and breadth of the globe with his Harmonium, some of the countries being U.S.A., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. China is also one country where he is one of the few fortunate ones to have performed.

Jyoti Goho
Jyoti Goho

Son of Shri Shyam Sundar Goho and Shrimati Bela Goho, Jyoti Goho imbibed the art of singing by virtue of his mother’s melodious voice. As he grew up in a musical atmosphere, he persevered to learn classical vocal music from knowledgeable Gurus Shri Sanat Banerjee and Shri Biren Bose, until he came at the feet of the great maestro and Guru Pandit A. Kanan, who thereafter nurtured him out of his vast experience and also encouraged him to embark on a career as a Harmonium accompanist, a foresight that proved immensely fruitful in the long run. With subsequent training in Harmonium received under the meticulous care of Shri Deb Kumar Banerjee, Shri Jyoti Goho soon rose in stature to be a Harmonium accompanist of superlative standards within the country and abroad. His long association with the maestro vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty also helped him immensely in learning the exacting standards and techniques of sensitive accompaniment, treading on his ability to understand and adjust according to the mood and the spirit of the performer. Pandit Vijay Kumar Kichlu, the eminent singer and musicologist, also played the role of a true guardian in guiding Jyoti Goho to come to the limelight of professional stage all over the world.

Jyoti Goho is currently a member of the music faculty at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata.

Jyoti GohoWe had an email interview with Jyoti.

Q1. Tell us something about your childhood. How you grew up liking music?

I started very late, when I was 20. I used to listen to my mother’s devotional songs from childhood and I grew a liking towards music. My mother has a melodious voice. Firstly I started learning vocal but later I picked up harmonium when I was 24.

Q2. Talking about picking up Harmonium as an instrument, what was the main point that you picked it?

More than 3 decades ago, I used to learn vocal music from Late Pandit A. Kanan. He was a very popular teacher and his Bakul Bagan home in south Kolkata, which was a regular haunt of many a famous musician. One day, when Guruji had gone out for a break, I started playing the harmonium. He heard it from outside and must have recognized some potential, as he encouraged me to play the harmonium with him and since then I have had the good fortune of accompanying many a musician of eminence.

Q3. Tell us something about your training and tutelage in classical music.

Pandit Deb Kumar Banerjee, a solo harmonium player, often visited Guruji. One day Guruji requested him to guide me in harmonium playing, to which he readily agreed. The first time I visited him, he asked me to play for him. He was surprised to find that my tana patterns were reminiscent of his grandfather Pandit Montu Banerjee, a disciple of Pandit Munneswar Dayal. I think this was a result of my repeated efforts at emulating great musicians.

Q4. Given the fact that Harmonium is not an Indian instrument by origin, what do you feel helped it becoming an integral part of Indian music?

Though Harmonium is a western instrument, still it has become an integral part of Indian Classical Music. The most important utility of harmonium is that we can adjust the supply of air, which creates more musicality.

I think this is the main point and there are some other techniques, like playing the intrument which can go hand-in -hand with Indian Music.

Jyoti Goho

Q5. Harmonium has become almost indispensable for Hindustani style of music. What is the main point of its popularity?

It has become almost indispensable for Indian Classical Music because the top vocalists of previous generation as well as our generation has taken it as an accompanying instrument. Some of the maestros are: Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan, Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Mallikarjan Mansur, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit A Kanan (Guruji) & many others. Those who have played the instrument they also proved their skill & potential.

Q6. Tell us about your journey as a musician and your family life.

I am very proud to have accompanied almost all great maestros like: Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan, Pandit Mallikarjan Mansur, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Nibritibua Sarnayak, Pandit Jasraj, Bidushi Parveen Sultana, Bidushi Malabika Kanan, Bidushi Girija Devi, Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan (Alive: 104 yrs), Bidushi Gangubai Hangal, Bidushi Sunanda Patnayak and others.

My Wife, Bandana is a very good singer, she has a very sweet voice. She is a semi-classical singer & teacher. My Son, Sourabh is learning tabla for the past 12 years, under the great tabla maestro Pt. Shankar Ghosh & started playing solo concerts in some prestigious venues in Kolkata.

Q7. Talking about being experimental, how do you feel Indian music thrives on improvisation and innovation. Do you feel Harmonium playing can be experimental?

Yes, Harmonium can be experimental. It depends on the player himself or his basic character.

Q8. Tell us about your collaboration with artists playing different instruments. Do you feel your own music is enriched whenever you collaborate with some other musicians?

No, I have’nt yet collaborated with any artistes. I am only accompanying for the last 37 years. I want to be a specialist in accompaniment.

Q9. What you would like to convey to our readers.

We should try to maintain the tradition of Indian Classical. Many musicians who deviated from Classical and experimented other types of music are coming back to classical. I am very happy for that & we should try to preserve classical Music.

—Life is incomplete without Music—

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