NCERT English - Class 9

Beehive (Prose)

Chapter 2: The Sound of Music

Part I - Evelyn Glennie Listens to Sound without Hearing It

Thinking about the Text

Question I:

Answer these questions in a few words or a couple of sentences each.

1. How old was Evelyn when she went to the Royal Academy of Music?


Evelyn was seventeen years old when she went to the Royal Academy of Music in London.

2. When was her deafness first noticed? When was it confirmed?


Her deafness was first noticed when she was eight years old and it was confirmed when she was eleven.

Question II:

Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (30 “ 40 words).

1. Who helped her to continue with music? What did he do and say?


Percussionist Ron Forbes helped Evelyn to continue with music.

He began by tuning two large drums to different notes. He asked her not to listen to them through her ears but to try and sense the sound in some other manner.

2. Name the various places and causes for which Evelyn performs.


Evelyn, with a hectic international schedule, gives solo performances at regular concerts. Apart from these, she gives free concerts in prisons and hospitals. She also accords high priority to classes for young musicians.

Question III:

Answer the question in two or three paragraphs (100 “ 150 words).

1. How does Evelyn hear music?


Evelyn does not hear music, she feels it. She senses the notes through different parts of her body. Initially, she was encouraged by percussionist Ron Forbes, who tuned two drums to different notes and asked her to sense the sound without using her ears. She realized that she could feel the higher drum from the waist up and the lower drum from the waist down. This exercise helped Evelyn to open up her mind and body to sounds and vibrations.

Evelyn explains that when she plays the xylophone, she senses the sound flowing up the stick and into her fingertips. She leans against the drums, stands barefoot on a wooden platform so that she can feel the vibrations. She says how her whole body including her hair is sensitive to her music and its resonances.

Part II - The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan

Before You Read:

Do you know these people? What instruments do they play?


(1) Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia playing flute

(2) Ustad Vilayat Khan playing sitar

(3) M. Lalitha and M. Nandini playing violin

(4)Zakir Hussain playing tabla

(5) Ustad Amjad Ali Khan playing sarod

(6) Maestro Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan playing violin

(7) Ustad Sultan Khan playing sarangi

(8) Ustad Bismillah Khan playing shehnai

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Thinking about the Text

Question I:

Tick the right answer.

  1. The (shehnai, pungi) was a reeded noisemaker.
  2. (Bismillah Khan, A barber, Ali Bux) transformed the pungi into a shehnai.
  3. Bismillah Khans paternal ancestors were (barbers, professional musicians).
  4. Bismillah Khan learnt to play the shehnai from (Ali Bux, Paigambar Bux, Ustad Faiyaaz Khan).
  5. Bismillah Khans first trip abroad was to (Afghanistan, U.S.A., Canada).
  1. The pungi was a reeded noisemaker.
  2. A barber transformed the pungi into a shehnai.
  3. Bismillah Khans paternal ancestors were professional musicians.
  4. Bismillah Khan learnt to play the shehnai from Ali Bux.
  5. Bismillah Khans first trip abroad was to Afghanistan.

Question II:

Find the words in the text which show Ustad Bismillah Khans feelings about the items listed below. Then mark a tick (✓) in the correct column. Discuss your answers in class.


Bismillah Khans feelings about Positive Negative Neutral
1. teaching children music
2. the film world
3. migrating to the U.S.A.
4. playing at temples
5. getting the Bharat Ratna
6. the banks of the Ganga
7. leaving Benaras and Dumraon

Bismillah Khans feelings about Words in the text
1. teaching children music With the coveted award resting on his chest and his eyes glinting with rare happiness he said, All I would like to say is: Teach your children music, this is Hindustans richest tradition; even the West is now coming to learn our music.
2. the film world I just cant come to terms with the artificiality and glamour of the film world, he says with emphasis.
3. migrating to the U.S.A. But Khansaab asked him if he would be able to transport River Ganga as well. Later he is remembered to have said, That is why whenever I am in a foreign country, I keep yearning to see Hindustan.
4. playing at temples Ustad Bismillah Khans life is a perfect example of the rich, cultural heritage of India, one that effortlessly accepts that a devout Muslim like him can very naturally play the shehnai every morning at the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
5. getting the Bharat Ratna With the coveted award resting on his chest and his eyes glinting with rare happiness…
6. the banks of the Ganga …and the banks of the Ganga became the young apprentice’s favourite haunts where he could practise in solitude.
7. leaving Benaras and Dumraon That is why whenever I am in a foreign country, I keep yearning to see Hindustan. While in Mumbai, I think of only Benaras and the holy Ganga. And while in Benaras, I miss the unique mattha of Dumraon.

Question III:

Answer these questions in 30 “ 40 words.

1. Why did Aurangzeb ban the playing of the pungi?


Emperor Aurangzeb banned the playing of the musical instrument called pungi in the royal residence because its sound was shrill and unpleasant.

2. How is a shehnai different from a pungi?


Shehnai has a better tonal quality than pungi. It is a natural hollow stem pipe with holes on its body and is longer and broader than the pungi. Shehnai is, in a way, an improvement upon the pungi.

3. Where was the shehnai played traditionally? How did Bismillah Khan change this?


Traditionally, the shehnai was part of the naubat or traditional ensemble of nine instruments found at royal courts. Those days, it was played only in temples and weddings. Bismillah Khan changed this by bringing it onto the classical stage.

4. When and how did Bismillah Khan get his big break?


Bismillah Khan got his big break in 1938 with the opening of the All India Radio in Lucknow. He started playing the shehnai on radio and soon became quite popular.

5. Where did Bismillah Khan play the shehnai on 15 August 1947? Why was the event historic?


On 15 August 1947, Bismillah Khan played the Raag Kaafi on his shehnai from the Red Fort. The event was historical because it was on the occasion of India’s Independence from British Rule.

6. Why did Bismillah Khan refuse to start a shehnai school in the U.S.A.?


Bismillah Khan refused one of his student’s request to start a shehnai school in the U.S.A. because he would not live away from Hindustan, specifically, from Benaras, the River Ganga and Dumraon.

7. Find at least two instances in the text which tell you that Bismillah Khan loves India and Benaras.


In his initial years, Bismillah used to practice in the temples of Benaras and on the banks of River Ganga. Later, his love for India and Bernaras made him turn down the offer to head a shehnai school in the U.S.A.

Thinking about Language

Question I:

Look at these sentences.

  • Evelyn was determined to live a normal life.
  • Evelyn managed to conceal her growing deafness from friends and teachers.

The italicised parts answer the questions: What was evelyn determined to do?

and What did Evelyn manage to do? They begin with a to-verb (to live, to conceal).

Complete the following sentences. Beginning with a to-verb, try to answer the questions in brackets.

  1. The school sports team hopes to perform better than the last time.
  2. We all want to go to the zoo.
  3. They advised the hearing-impaired childs mother to take her to a specialist.
  4. The authorities permitted us to organize a charity event.
  5. A musician decided to take Indias music to the world.

Question II:

From the text on Bismillah Khan, find the words and phrases that match these definitions and write them down. The number of the paragraph where you will find the words/ phrases has been given for you in brackets.

  1. the home of royal people (1) __________
  2. the state of being alone (5) __________
  3. a part which is absolutely necessary (2) __________
  4. to do something not done before (5) __________
  5. without much effort (13) __________
  6. quickly and in large quantities (9) __________ and __________
  1. the royal residence
  2. solitude
  3. indispensable
  4. invent
  5. effortlessly
  6. thick and fast

Question III:

Tick the right answer.

  1. When something is revived, it lives again.
  2. When a government bans something, it wants it stopped.
  3. When something is considered auspicious, welcome it.
  4. When we take to something, we find it interesting.
  5. When you appreciate something, you find it good and useful.
  6. When you replicate something, you do it for the second time.
  7. When we come to terms with something, it is no longer upsetting.

Question IV:

Dictionary work

Consult your dictionary and complete the following table. The first one has been done for you.

Use these words in phrases or sentences of your own.

adjective only before noun not before noun both before and after the verb be

Some sentences using these adjectives are:

  1. She is indispensable for the successful completion of the project.
  2. Sunita was impressed by my singing.
  3. He is afraid of the dark.
  4. I enjoy the company of my paternal uncle.
  5. Gennie was showered with countless gifts.
  6. My grandmother gave me a priceless piece of advice.


Question I:

Imagine the famous singer Kishori Amonkar is going to visit your school. You have been asked to introduce her to the audience before her performance. How would you introduce her?

Here is some information about Kishori Amonkar you can find on the Internet.

Read the passage and make notes of the main points about:

  • her parentage
  • the school of music she belongs to
  • her achievements
  • her inspiration
  • awards

Notes on Kishori Amonkar

  • Born in 1931 to artist Smt. Mogubbai Kurdikarher style, a variant of the Jaipur school of music, is unique and individual.
  • Explores the world of raagas to recreate the subtle shades of emotions.
  • Inspired by the teachings from the ancient devotional Vedic teachings.
  • Won several honours and awards like the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1985), the Padma Bhushan (1987) and the highly coveted Sangeet Samradhini Award (1997).

(A model answer has been provided for students’ reference. It is strongly recommended that students prepare the answer using their own understanding.)

Question II:

Use your notes on Kishori Amonkar to introduce her to an imaginary audience.

You may use one of the following phrases to introduce a guest:

I am honoured to introduce…/I feel privileged to introduce…/We welcome you..


I feel privileged to introduce to you all Padma Bhushan Kishori Amonkar. She has developed her own style that is a variant of Ustad Alladiya Khan’s ‘Jaipur-Atauli gharana’. She is highly inspired by the teachings of the ancient Vedic sages. And her careful research of the raagas has lead her to recreate subtle shades and emotions through her music. Her artistic capabilities have bestowed her with prestigious awards, which include the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1985), the Padma Bhushan (1987) and the highly coveted Sangeet Samradhini Award (1997). Our thanks to her for honouring us with her gracious presence.

(A model answer has been provided for students’ reference. It is strongly recommended that students prepare the answer using their own creativity and understanding.)


Question I:

If you work hard and know where youre going, youll get there, says Evelyn Glennie.

You have now read about two musicians, Evelyn Glennie and Ustad Bismillah Khan. Do you think that they both worked hard? Where did they want to go? Answer these questions in two paragraphs, one on each of the two musicians.


In my opinion, Evelyn Glennie and Ustad Bismillah Khan both worked hard to climb the ladder of success.

Evelyn turned deaf at a very young age. But her determination helped her fulfill her dream of not only becoming a successful musician but also of leading a normal life. Encouraged by the percussionist Ron Forbes, she learnt to feel the vibrations of music though her body. She made her way to the Royal Academy of Music. With her hard work and determination, Evelyn secured most of the awards in the Academy. In 1991, she was presented with the prestigious Soloist of the Year Award by the Royal Philharmonic Society.

Having born into a family of musicians, Ustad Bismillah Khan expressed his interest in music at a young age. He was trained by his uncle and inspired by the flowing waters of the Ganga. He practiced hard in solace of the temples of Balaji and Mangala Maiya. He improved and invented raagas that were earlier deemed to be beyond the scope of the shehnai. His contribution successfully brought the shehnai onto the classical stage. Bismillah Khan was awarded with several national awards including the highest civilian award of India, the Bharat Ratna. His accomplishments gave him worldwide recognition.