Focus on dhyaan

Sonorous singingGauri Pathare in performance

Sonorous singingGauri Pathare in performance  

Naad Yatra Foundation is presenting an unusual concert at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) auditorium on 21st July. Envisioned as part of a series to bring back “dhyaan” (meditation) to classical music, the event will feature three musicians, representing three different gharanas – Kirana/Jaipur Attrauli khayal singer Gauri Pathare, Senia Maihar sarodiya Pt Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar and Dagar dhrupad singing duo of Pt Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha.(incidentally 2017’s Sangeet Natak Akademi award winners)

Naad Yatra’s Sanjeev Jha, himself a dhrupad singer, part of the duo the Bihar Bandhu, verbalised the concept behind the concert - “Too often, nowadays, classical music is simply a display of technique. The internalising of the notes to create a meditative ambience is getting lost; our attempt through this series of concerts is to try to bring back that state of ‘dhyaan’ which in my mind is an indispensable component of our tradition”.

One way in which he feels this will be achieved is by eliminating distracting sounds of supporting melodic instruments. This, he feels, being a later interpolation in the concert format of khayal gayaki, is not conducive in delving inwards.

Of course, for the dhrupad duo of the Gundechas, taught in the 19 consecutive generations of the Dagar tradition, this is not an innovation as the style of dhrupad gayaki in any case is introspective, meditative and does not rely on supporting accompanying instruments other than percussion. As Ramakant Gundecha said, “Singing only with a tamboora is itself a difficult task, and requires greater discipline.”

On the other hand, for Gauri Pathare, singing without a sarangi or harmonium; with only a percussionist and tamboora is a novelty. In her words, “The intent of doing away with a harmonium is that it is an acquired instrument, without ‘shrutis’, and so having it as a point of reference, is inadequate. Sarangi’s tone is better, it has ‘shrutis’, but still is distracting. Tambooras are effective in creating an ambience in a closed room; in a wider context, reaching a bigger audience, in a larger space, I don’t know if the reach of the resonance of the tambooras will be possible. Without doubt, having only tambooras is the best method of achieving a state of “dhyaan”, my doubt is whether this is commercially practical, whether only tambooras as the reference notes will suffice. Let’s see.” (Gauri Pathare is rarely heard in Delhi despite her impeccable musical pedigree; she is currently learning from Gwalior/Jaipur doyen Padma Talwalkar, after having learnt from Pt Pimpalkhare and Pt Jitendra Abhishekhi)

The other innovation is insisting on all three artists rendering only Raga Yaman/Aiman. Pt Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar remarked, “ There is nothing new in this, I recall hearing only raga Yaman concerts in my youth in Kolkata. Kala Sangam used to hold a Yaman festival; also a Malkaus festival with legends like Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Kishoriji, Ustad Sharafat Hussain Khan. Malhar concerts too are still common; though since there are so many versions of Malhar, it becomes easier to have even a three or four day festival in the monsoons dedicated only to Malhar. Only Yaman the whole evening will show different creative thoughts of three different artists. I am so happy this is being done in Delhi.”

Gauri made a very valid point, “raga Yaman is a wide raga, so lends itself to be expanded; it’s not a Nat Malhar with a limited ‘shakal’. If the raga is treated as “shruti pradhan sangeet”, it will never be repetitive or boring. “Taar saptak mein dikhaava ka music, chilaa chilaa kar (singing loudly and stridently only in the higher octave, showing off) – yes that is indeed limited music, and any raga will be boring if treated thus. It’s not about its presentation being prolonged, it’s about how it’s treated.”

On being asked to stick to a purely dhrupad style presentation, Tejendra said, “I have many times played concerts in only a dhrupad format; our Senia gharana itself is based on pure dhrupad. I wanted to present a cohesive recital – not only “alaap” in dhrupad “ang”, and “gat” in khayal “ang”, so I will be playing with a pakhawaj player. I remember once being accompanied by Pt Kumar Bose on the pakhawaj, where we presented dhammar, sool taal, etc. In Delhi, there is not that much exposure to dhrupad instrumentalists, only rudraveena recitals, so I am excited about being given the opportunity to play sarod in the dhrupad “ang”, showing all aspects of alaap, jod, jhala, bandish.”

Jha shared that they intended to invite Carnatic artistes too in this experiment, in future concerts.

Only Yaman the whole evening will show different creative thoughts of three different artists.Pt. Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar

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