The Sound of Music- Summary & Question Answer

The Sound of Music is divided into two parts. The first part is “Evelyn Glennie Listens to Sound without Hearing It” and the second part is “The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan”. Here I have dicussed both the chapters, its summary, question-answers etc.

Evelyn Glennie Listens to Sound Without Hearing It.

The Sound of Music | Part-I | Summary

“Evelyn Glennie Listens to Sound without Hearing It” throws light on the life of famous Scottish multi-percussionist, Evelyn Glennie and the struggles she faced to become a successful musician. She is a talented performer who knows how to play several instruments perfectly. It is interesting to note that although she is completely deaf, she has an extraordinary ability to sense music through her body rather than her ears. Evelyn was not born deaf, but she lost her hearing ability by the time she was eleven years old. Whilst she faced difficulty in hearing, that did not bog down her determination to pursue music.

Evelyn was keener to learn the xylophone at school when percussionist Ron Forbes recognised her potential. He encouraged her to sense the music through her body, instead of her ears. After that, there was no looking back! Evelyn continued to scale newer heights ever since and when she auditioned at the Royal Academy of Music; she scored one of the highest marks in the history of the music academy. She received several laurels, accolades and awards for her extraordinaire par excellence performances on the global platform. In 1991, the Royal Philharmonic Society honoured her with the prestigious ‘Soloist of the Year Award’. Ann Richlin of the Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children stated that Evelyn is a beaming inspiration to the specially-abled people. Thus, Evelyn Glennie continues to set an example by motivating everyone around her with her determination and delights millions of people with her outstanding performances.

Evelyn Glennie Listens to Sound without Hearing It- Question-Answers

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

Ans:- When Evelyn went to the Royal Academic of Music, she was seventeen years old.

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

Ans:- At the age of eight, her deafness was first noticed by her mother when while waiting to play the piano, Evelyn did not respond to her name being called.

Evelyn’s deafness was confirmed at the age of eleven years.

Q.3. Who helped her to continue with music? What did he do and say?

Ans:- Ron Forbes, a percussionist, noticed Evelyn’s talent and helped her continue with music.

He tuned two large drums to different notes and asked Evelyn to try and sense their sound in some other way, rather than try to listen through her ears. He thus made her realize that she could feel the higher drum from the waist up and the lower one from the waist down, and also that she could sense different notes in different parts of her body. Thus Ron Forbes taught her to feel sound by her mind and body rather than by her ears.

Q.4. Name the various places and causes for which Evelyn performs.

Ans:- Evelyn performs at regular concerts and often goes on international tours, having a very hectic schedule. She gives high priority to classes for young musicians. Evelyn also gives free concerts in prisons and hospitals. Evelyn is a shining inspiration for the handicapped that are charged with confidence by her perseverance and success.

Q.5. How does Evelyn hears music?

Ans:- Evelyn hears music through the vibrations of each individual instrument, made by it while producing different notes. Different parts of her body sense the different notes and their vibrations. She says that she can feel the music pouring in through every part of her body. It makes her skin, hair and even cheekbones tingle.

Usually, while giving performances and during playing, Evelyn stands barefoot on a wooden platform, so that the vibrations can pass through her feet up her legs. When she plays the xylophone, she can sense the sound passing up the stick into her fingers. And by leaning against drums during playing them, Evelyn can feel the resonances flowing into her body. Thus sensing the music through the sensations created by the instruments helps Evelyn ‘hear’ music and play it flawlessly.

The Sound of Music| Part-II

The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan | Summary

In Part 2 of The Sound of Music chapter, we learn about Ustad Bismillah Khan, the shehnai legend and how the musical instrument ‘Shehnai’ came into being. The ‘Shehnai’ was first played in the Mughal Emperor’s chamber by a barber of a family of professional musicians. He chose a pipe with holes in it and played it by closing and opening some of these holes, thereby creating melodious sounds from the instrument. Legendary Indian shehnai player, Ustad Bismillah Khan was the maestro who popularized this musical instrument and gave it a global platform. He belonged to a renowned family of musicians and created new tunes and raagas, which had not been explored before. From a young age, he was deeply inspired by the flowing waters of the river Ganga and would play on its banks at the temple of Balaji and Mangala Maiya. Bismillah Khan had a secular upbringing as he loved Benares and would naturally play the shehnai every morning at the Kashi Vishwanath temple on the banks of the holy river Ganga.


In 1938, Bismillah Khan got his big break with the inauguration of the All India Radio in Lucknow. Later, when India became independent of the British Rule on 15th August 1947, Ustad Bismillah Khan was the first Indian invited to play the shehnai as he greeted the nation with his stirring performance. Over the years, he achieved infinite success and garnered immense praise from music lovers, both nationally and internationally for his soulful renditions. He was bestowed with several accolades and awards in India such as the Padma Vibhushan, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri. He was also the recipient of the highest civilian honour in India i.e. The Bharat Ratna.

Ustad Bismillah Khan represented India on the global stage too. He was the first Indian who was invited to perform at the distinguished Lincoln Centre Hall in the USA. He also participated in the Cannes Art Festival, the World Exposition in Montreal and the Osaka Trade Fair. He was so popular that an opera house in Teheran was named after him i.e. Tahar Mosiquee Ustaad Bismillah Khan. Despite having numerous opportunities far and wide, the music maestro was very fond of India particularly, Benaras and his native town, Dumraon. On 21st August 2006, Ustad Bismillah Khan breathed his last after a prolonged illness and left a legacy of soulful music behind him.

The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan- Question-Answers

Q.   Tick the right answer.

1.    The (shehnai/pungi) was a ‘reeded noisemaker’.

Ans:- Pungi.

2.    (Bismillah Khan/ a barber/ Ali Bux) transformed the pungi into a shehnai.

Ans:- A barber.

3.    Bismillah Khan’s paternal ancestors were (barbers/ professional musicians).

Ans:- Professional Musicians.

4.    Bismillah Khan learnt to play the shehnai from (Ali Bux/ Paigambar Bux/ Ustad Faiyaaz Khan).

Ans:- Ali Bux.

5.    Bismillah Khan’s firdt trip abroad was to (Afghanistan/ U.S.A./ Canada).

Ans:- Afghanistan.

Textual Question and Answers

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

Ans:- Aurangzeb had banned the playing of the pungi because it had a shrill unpleasant sound.

2.    How is a shehnai different from a pungi?

Ans:- The shehnai is made from a broader and longer pipe which had a natural hollow stem as compared to the pungi. Moreover, it has a very pleasant sound as opposed to the pungi which produced a shrill sound.

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

Ans:- Traditionally shehnai was played in temples and at weddings.

Bismillah Khan changed this by bringing the shehnai onto the classical stage.

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

Ans:- Bismillah Khan got his first break with the opening of the All India Radio in Lucknow in the year 1938. For he started playing there regularly and soon became a well-known and often heard shehnai player on radio.

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

Ans:- Bismillah Khan played the shehnai from atop the Red Fort on 15th August.

The event was historic because this was the day when India gained independence and his recital was followed by Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech.

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

Ans:- Bismillah Khan refused to start a shehnai school in the U.S.A. because he could not bear the thought of being away from India and his beloved Ganga.

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

Ans:- Two instances which tell us Bismillah Khan’s love for India and Benaras are-

Firstly, he refused an offer from one of his student to move to U.S.A. to open a shehnai school there because he could not bear to be far from his beloved Ganga.

Secondly, he is remembered to have said that whenever he is in a foreign country, he keeps yearning to see India.

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