Music

Pt. Debu Chaudhury: In sync with soul

Guiding all the way: Pt. Debu Chaudhury

Guiding all the way: Pt. Debu Chaudhury  

Even as his disciples paid musical tributes to Pt. Debu Chaudhury on his 84th birthday, the maestro talked about his latest book

Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan Centre for Culture (UMAK) organised “Abhinandan-84”, celebrating the 84th birthday of Pt. Debabrat Chaudhury, the renowned sitar maestro of the Jaipur Senia tradition, at the Meghdoot Theatre in New Delhi. The senior most disciple of Late Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan, Pt. Debu Chaudhury, affectionately addressed as Debu Da, has maintained not only the purity of the baaj but also adhered to the practice of using just 17 frets in performance and teaching, resisting the convenience of 20 or 21 frets prevalent elsewhere.

A Padma Bhushan and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee,Prof. Debu Chaudhury retired as the Dean Faculty of Music & Fine Arts Delhi University. He has written many books on music and has created eight new ragas. His latest book “Raagatma”, a collection of his compositions, based on the traditional compositions of Hindustani music, was released on this occasion. Speaking on the occasion, he explained that the traditional compositions are the ‘aatma’ or soul of the ragas, hence he has named the book “Raagatma”. He thanked his disciples specially Dr. Anupam Mahajan, who had worked hard, help him reading and editing the manuscript when he nearly lost his eyesight.

Abhinandan-84 saw Pt. Debu Chaudhury’s disciples offering him musical tributes, including his granddaughter Rayana Chaudhury, who opened the evening with a Kathak recital and his grandson Adhiraj Chaudhury who played short alaap in raga Yaman followed by a striking composition of his grandfather with an ‘avagraha’ or empty ‘matra’ in the opening section of the gat set to Teentala.

The delightful duet by his senior disciples Neelranjan Mukherjee on Hawaiian guitar and Prof. Ravi Sharma on sitar, exchanging ideas in raga Jog with mutual understanding; pulled the evening to the desired level. This was followed by a Trigal-bandi (trio) of two sitars by Uma Shankar and Saptarshi and flute by Mayank, accompanied on tabla by Siddhartha Chatterjee, who was earlier seen with Adhiraj. The trio tried raga ‘Vishweshwari’, a challenging raga created by Pt. Debu Chaudhury. Based on the Charukeshi Mela, Vishweshwari had Kanhada flavour in the lower octave and Malkauns Ang in middle octave with a Shuddha Gandhar, that demarcated it from actual Malkauns. The ‘ga re ga ma re’ phrase even resembled Rageshree; but the three instrumentalists maintained the ‘Ragaroop’, throughout the drut Ektala and the Teentala compositions.

Prateek Chaudhury, scion (Khalifa) of the Gharana, came as the concluding artiste of ‘Abhinandan-84’ and opened his musical tribute with raga ‘Swanandeshwari’, created by his Guru/father and named by ‘Nirmala Ma’, after experiencing the bliss of the raga when Debu Da first played it for her. Prateek gave a convincing account of his assimilation of this raga, that sounded like ‘Shiva-Ranjani’ in the ascending order and Sampoorna Kafi Thaat while descending. The stylised expression of Swanandeshwari with an introductory alaap and a melodious Masitkhani Gat in Teentala, truly translated the name of the raga.

He then played Bageshree with a brief alaap that opened up the raga across the melodic canvas faster than the step by step approach. The medium tempo composition set to 9 beats cycle, was adequately supported on tabla by Ud. Rafiuddin Sabri. One witnessed a mature artiste in Prateek this evening, who made his mentor proud.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:28:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/pt-debu-chaudhury-in-sync-with-soul/article28094928.ece

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