Dhrupad is the oldest form of vocal and instrumental music in the Hindustani tradition that is being practised even today. It is first mentioned as a fully evolved form in the late 15th century musical treatise Man Kutuhul compiled by the scholar – musicians of Raja Mansingh Tomar’s Court in Gwalior.
Unlike the ebullient khayal tradition, Dhrupad is austere in character but graced by a grave and enduring beauty. The demands it makes on its practitioners, both vocalists and instrumentalists, are many.
Strict adherence to the architecture of the raga, respect for the tala or beat cycle in a given composition, and organic or natural attainment of Bhava are an exponent of Khayal and related music, does not have at his command a dramatic device like the taan (roulade) rendered at various speeds and volumes. He must express himself through single notes that are clear, sustained, soft, sharp or flat and those that glide (meends) or vibrate (gamaks). Masters achieve intensity and equilibrium through judicious use of Shruti or microtones in their musical explorations.
The Ragini Todi is depicted in miniature paintings as a maiden spurned in love, playing on the veena to a small herd of deer in a grove. A visual description of a melodic structure that suggests grief, and a retread from love and worldly desires.
Todi Ragini is sung late in the morning. It is considered a Sampoorna Jati melody in which all the seven notes of the scale are employed in the ascendent figure as well as the descendent. However the decisive pancham note is suggested rather than used forcefully. The Ragini’s very design encourages direct emotions particularly those associated with loss and ardour. Sung or played by a master, it assumes its real character and scope, encompassing the truly tragic in human experience. It is suited to depict for right as well as subtle feelings.
Bahu – ud – din Dagar plays his ancient instrument with a contemporary sensibility. His playing is full of questions and musings and his phrases turn inwards. His rendering of Todi especially in the Jod and Jhala has a rippling quality but underneath is an ambiguity that cannot be ignored.
The Dagar Bani
There are four known schools or modes of Dhrupad namely Nauhar Bani, Gauhar Bani, Khandar Bani and Dagar Bani. The Dagars come from the village of Ambetta in, Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Musical research says that the Dagar Gharana has been in existence for nearly five hundred years. The present day Dagars are said to be largely the descendents of the two great turn – of – the – century stalwarts Zakiruddin and Allah Bande Khan who had settled in Central India, i.e. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Bahu – ud – din Dagar (Rudra Veena)
Sanjay Agle (pakhawaj)
Bolai Maity (tanpura)
Recording engineered by:
Avinash Oak at Studio Western Outdoor, Bombay
Sleeve notes by Partho Chatterjee
Series Producer: Asha Rani Mathur
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