Raag Taal Gharana Music

The grandeur of Gwalior

Meeta; L.K. Pandit and Krishnarao S. Pandit. Photo courtesy Avinash Pasricha

Meeta; L.K. Pandit and Krishnarao S. Pandit. Photo courtesy Avinash Pasricha  

On the beautiful tradition of inheriting the style established by great masters

It’s not easy to put in words how it felt for a novice to be initiated into a gharana and walk the path once tread by great masters. During my learning (of course, the process is a life-long one) years, I was overjoyed to be exposed to the works of legends who belonged to Gwalior. Over the years, I realised that hard work, devotion, research and vision have laid the strong foundation on which each gharana built a musical edifice. The parampara was established not just through a set of families or their sishyas, but through universal acceptance of the values.

These days the term ‘gharana’ is often being used loosely. Most people do not understand that it denotes a tradition that has been passed down at least three generations, led by a guru of high calibre. For an artist to belong to a gharana, a training period of at least 12 years or ek tap, under the tutelage of a guru is essential.

I take immense pride in hailing from Gwalior, which was the seat of Hindustani music. It is the fountain-head of all gharanas. The style I learnt was held sacrosanct by the many maestros who belonged to this region. At the same time, I was taught to hear, appreciate and respect all other styles, be it classical or non-classical, or cross cultural.

That helped me develop an open mind to music. Freedom of expression was an important aspect of training.

Gwalior gharana is known for its pure form of expression, here the Khayal is deeply influenced by Dhrupad, the emphasis is on natural, full-throated singing (shuddha aakar) and the delineation of ragas with ashtang gayaki (eight-dimensional style of singing). An artiste belonging to this gharana needs to be well-versed in the eight angs — alaap, bol alaap, taan, boltaan, layakari, meend, gamak and murki khatka.

The gharana is a treasure trove of compositions, especially Khayal, the jewel in the Gwalior crown.

It is also known for its tappa, tappa-thumri, tappa-tarana, chaturang, ashtapadi, bandish ki thumri and bol banav thumri.

I am writing about these beautiful aspects in my book, India’s Heritage Of Gharana Music: Pandits of Gwalior. I hope to finish it soon. I wanted to document the tradition for posterity through this book.

Though these salient features lend an edge to the artistry of a musician belonging to this gharana, it is equally important to bring in one’s own perception to it all. You cannot create an identity by blindly copying the style. Individuality is looking beyond the training, considering demands of the time and tailoring your presentation according to the audience type.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 6:59:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/Meeta-Pandit-on-Gwalior-gharana/article17353775.ece

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