Since 1999

How Kesarbai Kerkar's Jat Kahan Ho ended up on the Voyager Spacecraft Disc

Ann Druyan made a host of essential

contributions, on both the creative and production sides of the project, and I can’t

resist quoting one of her reminiscences:

“Robert Brown had placed Surshri Kesar Bai Kerkar’s ‘Jaat Kahan Ho’ at the top

of his list of world music for outer space,” she writes. “It was an old recording that

had recently gone out of print. After hunting through a score of record stores without

any success, I phoned Brown and asked him to suggest an alternative raga.

“He refused.

“ ‘Well, what happens if we can’t find a copy of this one in time to get it on the

record?’ I pleaded. We had three more days in which to complete the repertoire. I was

terribly worried that Indian music, one of the world’s most intricate and fascinating

traditions, might not be represented.

“ ‘Keep looking,’ he told me.

“When I phoned him the following day after a series of very unrewarding

conversations with librarians and cultural attachés, I was desperate.

“ ‘I promise I’ll keep looking for “Jaat Kahan Ho,” but you’ve simply got to give

me the name of a piece that we can fall back on. What’s the next best thing?’

“ ‘There’snothingclose,’heinsisted.‘Keeplooking.’The other

ethnomusicologists we had been consulting told me to trust him. I started phoning

Indian restaurants.

“There’s an appliance store on Lexington Avenue in the Twenties in New York

City that is owned by an Indian family. Under a card table with a madras cloth thrown

over it sits a dusty brown carton with three unopened copies of ‘Jaat Kahan Ho.’ Why

I want to buy all three occasions a great deal of animated speculation on the part of

the owners. I fly out of the shop and race uptown to listen to it.

“It’s a thrilling piece of music. I phone Brown and find myself saying thank you

over and over.”

Now you know


Gwalior Gharana 4

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