Nebulous experience

Hidden meanings: Ustad Bahauddin Dagar in performance

Hidden meanings: Ustad Bahauddin Dagar in performance   | Photo Credit: BHARAT TIWARI


Ustad Bahauddin Dagar treated audience to a meditative recital at the tomb of Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan in Delhi

Ustad Bahauddin Dagar gives haazri every three months at the tomb of Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan at Nizamuddin, on the date of birth of the saint The Sufi was not only a great musician (he played the veena, and was a grandson of the famous Ustad Maula Baksh of the Baroda court) but also a spiritually enlightened saint. Bahauddin’s connection with him is visible in the quality of his musical offering at his tomb.

As usual, recently, he played with muted amplification which is so much nicer. One has got too used to very loud classical music which verges on the dissonant. For this musical offering , Bahauddin did not play with a percussion accompanist, allowing his spirit to muse between notes, create connections between them, exploring different avenues of the raga.

Bahauddin played raga Puriya Kalyan, his hour-long aalap jor jhala, creating an ambience of total absorption in the largely young audience. His style is of course as per the dhrupad tradition of the Dagar family of which he is the 19th generation descendant. Creating a framework of connections between the notes, exploring all three octaves in turn was methodical as always, but clearly, on this occasion, he was moved by the ambiance, which was of course transmitted to the audience. “Asar” is a nebulous word; it can only be experienced and felt. In the jhala, he added some lovely “gamaks”, the coordination between his left and right hand was pleasing.

Testing himself

Stressing the “baaj” of the veena more prominently than he usually does, Bahauddin explored the raga beautifully. There was never an attempt to impress, his playing was devotional, meditative and inspired. After that magnificent Puriya Kalyan, Bahauddin bravely explored raga Malgunji, which, he said, was not part of his gharana’s repertoire and was playing it for the first time. In the past too, he played raga Purvi for the first time at the same spot, clearly he looks for blessings from the musician Saint.

As usual, Bahauddin did not play with “mizrabs”, using only his nails to pluck the wires. The tonal quality thus achieved has no metallic twang of wire hitting wire. As he said, as per their tradition, “naakh mukh veena baaje” (the veena is played with the nails). However, the double stroke (Da Ga), particular to the veena, and one of its basic playing techniques cannot really be played properly without mizrabs on both fingers, though, amazingly, he managed a few times, using only his nails.

Structurally, Bahauddin’s rudra veena is like the veena of an earlier time, with its 24 frets and four main wires, but pursits frown on his hold which is as per the tradition adopted in South India, around 250 years ago, on the Saraswati veena.

The veena is an unwieldy heavy instrument; it is played mainly on the fourth wire. So, plucking a meend is much more difficult as is moving up and down its stem. Yet, truly, it is the mother of all instruments and anyone who once masters it, does not want to go back to playing an easier instrument, (Bahauddin himself trained initially on the sitar before graduating to the rudra veena) nor can an avid listener enjoy any other instrument as much. This recital proved it.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 9:21:32 AM |

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