Shivkumar Sharma was born in Jammu to the singer Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma. His father started teaching him vocals and tabla when he was just 5 & Santoor from age of 13
First Public Performance
After several radio broadcasts and performances Pandit Shivkumar Sharma appeared for his national level concert in Mumbai in 1955. Sharma composed the music of Shantaram's Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (1965).
Santoor made an entry as late as the second half of the twentieth century. Within a short span of time, it carved for itself a niche in the scenario of Indian Classical Music and for this the credit goes to Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.
The Santoor is generally a folk instrument from the valley of Kashmir, which is used as an accompaniment to Sufiana music by Sufi singers.
In 1967, he teamed up with flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia and Brij Bhushan Kabra to produce a concept album, Call of the Valley (1967) which turned out to be one of the greatest hits in Indian classical music
He has composed music for many Hindi films in collaboration with Hariprasad Chaurasia starting with Silsila (1980). Some of the movies they composed music for which were big musical hits are Faasle (1985), Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991) and Darr (1993).
Pt. Shivkumar Sharma has created a new genre of instrumental music. Through his performance career of over a half century, he has created millions of new listeners and ardent fans of Indian classical music.
Modifications in Santoor
The Santoor in its original form and tonal quality could not be conceived as an instrument used in Indian classical music. The Late Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma, father of
Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, who himself was a renowned classical musician of the Benaras Gharana, could forsee the potential of this instrument and initiated Shivji into developing the Santoor. The original instrument was modified over the years by Shivji so that it could be effectively used in Indian Classical Music.
He reduced the number of strings on each bridge from 4 to 3, so also changing the tuning system so that three octaves could be played, highlighting the contrast of tonal quality from ‘Mandra’ to ‘Tar’ Saptaka. Thus the strings when struck in quick succession with rhythmic precision, created a veritable flow or stream of tones which Shivji exploited beautifully to portray a ‘Raga System’ with all its ingredients such as Alaap, Jod, Jhala, Taan and complex Laya patterns.
Besides, he also created a new technique of playing with which he could sustain notes and maintain sound continuity. Today Santoor is at par with any classical instrument, well established not just all over India, but across the globe.
Shivji’s ‘Baaj’ Or Style!
Shivji’s ‘Baaj’ or style was evolved over the years. This process of evolving a Baaj has many interesting facets.
First and foremost is Shivji’s constant endeavour to apply his mind towards improving the instrument’s tonal quality by experimenting with modifications in the instrument and then simultaneously trying a novel technique of strokes to create tones of soothing nature with lasting impact on his listeners.
Ustad Zakir Hussain
Live In Concert with Ustad Zakir Hussain on Tabla & Satish Vyas on Tanpura
The Slide technique adopted by him for producing a ‘Meend’ like effect in the Alaap part of his presentation generates a mesmerizing effect, rare otherwise in a striking instrument
Innovative experimental albums
While he never compromises on the purity of music, Pt. Sharma’s open minded approach has resulted in some of the most popular, innovative experimental albums like Call of the Valley, Feelings, Mountains, etc.
He is among those rare musicians who have been able to create successfully in the world of film music as well. Now for over forty years Santoor is an indispensable part of Indian film music. Music, he believes, is food for the soul. Naturally, his music is meditative and soothing at the same time.
Over the years, Shivji has adopted and utilized the Dhrupad style of singing and carried it further by experimenting with ‘Pakhawaj’ accompaniment during his Jod and Jhala presentations, which added a new dimension to his style.
Today he has over 100 recordings to his credit in LPs, CDs, audio cassettes and even DVDs. In fact he is the only classical musician who has agreed to do a music video in order to appeal to the young generation.
National & International Honors
Pt Shivkumar Sharma is the recipient of national and international awards including an honorary citizenship of the city of Baltimore USA in 1985 the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986 the Padma Shri in 1991 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001.
Platinum Disc for The Call of the Valley
Platinum Disc for music of film Silsila
Gold Disc for music of film Faasle
Platinum Disc for music of film Chandni
Special Award for outstanding music and sale of film Lamhe
Special Award for outstanding music and sale of film Darr
Pt Shivkumar Sharma married Manorama and has two sons. His son Rahul is also a santoor player and they perform together since 1996. Pt Shivkumar Sharma stated that he chose Rahul as his shishya because he thought he had the "gift of God"