The recent Dhrupad Samaroh which featured few concerts, was in the main conceived around the relevance of the tanpura.

A pivotal part of any performance of Indian classical music, the tanpura is the most relevant accompanying instrument. It is essential for practice and performance in general but simply indispensible for Dhrupad, because a pair of tanpuras serves as the sole accompaniment here, apart from the percussion instrument pakhawaj. According to Wasifuddin Dagar, president, Dhrupad Society, “While tuning the tanpura you don't just tune the strings but tune your soul and musical ability too. Listening to the tanpura increases your sensitivity towards a musical note.”

No wonder the 22nd Dhrupad Samaroh, organised by the Dhrupad Society at the India International Centre auditorium recently, opened with a documentary film on the tanpura. Tracing the history of Dhrupad, this film establishes the significant link between this ancient art form and the tanpura. The film takes the viewers to Ganapati Mandir of Miraj, the centre for manufacturing tanpuras and shows the process of tanpura-making.

From citing the views of scholars and gurus about the instrument, to the innovative approach of manufacturers like Rikhiram & Sons who created the small tanpuri convenient when travelling on Pandit Ravi Shankar's request, the film also describes the difference between tanpuras for male and female artistes and how a tanpura expresses the “sapta-gupta and sapta-prakat” swaras.

Rudra veena

The music concert on the inaugural evening opened with a Rudra veena recital by Asit Bannerjee from Kolkata. Groomed under gurus like Zia Moiuddin Dagar and Zia Fariduddin Dagar, Asit has mastered the instrument quite well but this evening he took some time to establish the raga during the detailed alap-jod of raga Puria Kalyan. Mohan Shyam Sharma accompanied him on the pakhawaj for the Dhrupad composition that followed in Chau tala.

There was little time left for the Dhrupad recital by Wasifuddin Dagar, who opened with a brief alap in Sur Malhar followed by a Dhrupad composition. Then came a detailed alapchari and dhrupad in raga Malkauns followed by the famous “Shankar Girijapati” in Sul tala. He sang another faster composition “Naad sakal srishti” in Sul tala with the vibrant pakhawaj by Mohan Shyam Sharma.

The second evening opened with an impressive Dhrupad recital by Madhu Bhatt, the only female participant. An assistant professor in the music department of Rajasthan University, Jaipur, Madhu is trained in Rajasthan tradition of Dhrupad singing under her father Laxman Bhatt Tailang. Opening her recital with a detailed alapchari in raga Multani, she sang a dhrupad of the Prabandha tradition, “Nitya Shuddha Buddha Mukta Satchidananda roop” set the Chau tala of 12 beats. This was followed by a Shiva stuti in sul tala depicting the Shiva tandav with all the four components, namely sthayi, antara, sanchari and abhog. On request she also sang a composition of Swami Haridas in raga Megh. Pravin Arya gave her commendable support on the pakhawaj.

The two-day Dhrupad Samaroh conceived around the relevance of the tanpura concluded with a lecture-demonstration by R. Fahimuddin Dagar on the role and proper tuning of the tanpura. The learned ustad shed light on many other significant areas and sang as well.