Dhrupad – Archives

Audio and Video Recordings and Articles on Dhrupad and the Dagar Tradition

Archive for the ‘Dhrupad Vocal’ Category

Elder Dagar Brothers – Ahmadjan Thirakwan Tabla – Bihag

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A rare recording of the Elder Dagar brothers  Nasir Moinuddin and Aminuddin Dagar singing Bihag with Ahmadjan Thirakwan on Tabla. Recorded from a All India Radio Broadcast of a live concert early 1960s by Maharawal Mahipalsinghji of Dungarpur.


Dhrupad Alap and Dhamar Bageshree – Ashish Sankrityayan, Mohan Shyam Sharma

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Short Alap in Bageshree followed by Dhamar (14 beats) by Ashish Sankrityayan with Mohan Shyam Sharma on pakhawaj.

Tanpura Anatoli Lomonosov

14th November 2012 Great Guild Hall Riga Latvia.

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March 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Reconstruction of Dhrupad Compositions with Four Parts

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Ramprasanna BannerjeeThe compulsion of giving short performances in the kind of festivals that are organized nowadays with three or four artists sharing the stage and the audience not staying on till late  and also the emphasis on improvisation is probably why often only one or at the most two parts of Dhrupad compositions are heard nowadays. Gradually the last two parts of many compositions have been forgotten since they are not often sung.  However since the last two parts are essentially variations of the first two, it should be possible to reconstruct them if the entire text of the composition is available.

In books like the Dhrupad Swaralipi of Shri Harinarayan Mukhopadhyay published(1929) and available on the link, or the Geet Vadya Saar Sangraha of Charucharan Mukhopadhyaya (1905) can be found the complete texts of many such compositions.

For example though there is no recording of all the four parts of the composition Bansidhara Pinakadhara sung in the Dagar Tradition in Multani, we can find the song text in the Dhrupad Swaralipi and reconstruct the entire composition since the third part is essentially a close variation of the sthayi and always begins with a characteristic hudak ornament spanning a large part of the octave from the lower to the middle. The fourth part is essentially like the second with slight variations. The words of the last two parts of this composition as given in the book (in Raga Shree) are -chandanadhara bhasmadhara maalaadhara sheshadhara gopivara parameshwara gopishwara ishwara. kahe miya taansen dou swaroopa ek tuma garudasana vrishavahana teenaloka kara uddhara.

A well trained Dhrupad singer should be able to reconstruct compositions in this way. Which again brings us to the important task of collecting all recorded and written material on Dhrupad and going about reconstructing whatever is possible.

Another frequently heard composition whose 3rd and 4th parts can be found in the Geet Vadya Saar Sangraha and the Sangit Manjari of Ramprasanna Bannerjee of Vishnupur (1935)  is – niranjana nirakara parabrahma parameshwara.  ek hi anek hoye vyapyo vishambhara. alakha jyoti avinashi jyoti rupa jagatarana. jagannatha jagatapati jagajivana jagadhara. baahi mein sab jiva jantu suranara muni guni gyani. nabhi kamal te brahma pragatayo shataroopa manvantara. kahe baiju vahi brahma vahi virata roopa vahi. aap avataar bhaye chaubis vapudhara.  The same composition can often be found in different Ragas in different traditions. The first book gives it in Raga Bhairava while the second lists it in Bhairavi.

Here is a  recording of the Elder Dagar Brothers singing alap in Sudhdha Rishabh Chandrakauns followed by this composition in a Radio broadcast from the 1960s.


Gopeshwar Bannerjee Dhrupad Singer and author Vishnupur

A later recording of the Younger Dagar Brothers has both the sthayi and antara


The photos show Ramprasanna Bannerjee  playing the Rudra Veena and his younger brother Gopeshwar Bannerjee of the Vishnupur Dhrupad Tradition. The world of Dhrupad will be eternally grateful to them for being farsighted enough to publish their two gems with Dhrupad compositions – The Sangit Manjari and the Sangit Chandrika.

Dhamar In Khamaj – Ashish Sankrityayan, Dalchand Sharma

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Short Alap and Dhamar in Khamaj – Ashish Sankrityayan, Dalchand Sharma.

Dhrupad Compositions With Four Parts – Rahimuddin, Hussainuddin, Aminuddin, Zahiruddin and Faiyazuddin Dagar

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One often hears it being said that singers of the Dagar Tradition do not sing all the four parts of a Dhrupad composition. The reason could be that the style lays much greater emphasis on improvisation and because of this, the last two parts being not sung often are gradually forgotten. Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar used to tell me that in a Dhrupad composition the first two parts the Sthayi and Antara were the most important – encompassing all the angs of the raga that the composition tries to demonstrate. The last two parts are essentially variations of the first two. Often due to the vagaries of the oral system of transmission and the peculiarities of the family relations and learning histories, some members of the Dagar family remembered all the four parts of certain compositions while others didn’t.

Another quirk of theirs is in the nomenclature of the four parts. The Dagars would insist that the last two parts of a Dhrupad composition are called Abhog and Sanchari and not the other way round. Fahimuddin Dagar  told me that the third part always starts with a special ornament  spanning a large part of the octave – the hudak and the fourth is more or less the same as the second – the Antara. He said the fourth part should be called the Sanchari or Samachari because it summarized the content of all the four parts and brought the composition to an end.  He also added that it doesn’t really matter anyway if it is Abhog, Sanchari or the other way round.

When it came to remembering compositions the Late Nasir Aminuddin Dagar had probably the largest repertoire of them all. He also remembered many compositions of his maternal grandfather Inayat Khan. When I first met him in Calcutta, he spontaneously sang without tanpura accompaniment, several that I had never heard before. It is a real pity that he did not methodically  record all that he remembered.

Here are two compositions by him with all the four parts.

Pujana Chali Mahadeva – Raga Malkauns – Chowtal,  Composition of Tansen.


Notice the tanpura tuning in Pancham. Something he insists on in the beginning before the alap as being required to preserve the tonal relations within the Raga.

Manus Hu To Vahi Ras Khan – Raga Kambhoji – Chowtal


– text by Ras Khan – poet and Krishna devotee  (16th – 17th century).

Another gem of a composition with four parts attributed to Tansen is Muraliya Kaise Baaje sung here by Nasir Zahiruddin and Nasir Faiyazuddin Dagar the younger sons of Nasiruddin Khan Dagar


Aminuddin Sab sings another composition with four parts in Raga Adbhut Kalyan  which I recorded from a radio broadcast around 1990. He probably missed out a part of it somewhere since he has to repeat a phrase in the end to come to the first beat.  He told me that the Raga was originally called Khem Kalyan. The composition is of Kalidas – the Pandit from whom his ancestor Baba Behram Khan had learnt in Varanasi.


This composition in Todi sung by Hussainuddin Dagar (Tansen Pandey) mentions the names of Nayak Gopal and Nayak Baiju.  The pakhawaj accompaniment is probably by Rajiv Lochan Dey.


This composition  in Lalit sung by Aminuddin Dagar mentions the name of Dhondi in the last part. The pakhawaj accompaniment is by S. V. Patwardhan. Recorded by Maharawal Mahipalsinghji of Dungarpur in 1966 from a radio broadcast.


Two more compositions with four parts are these in Miya Ki Malhar and Komal Rishabh Asavari by Rahimuddin Khan Dagar which are also there in his EP records released by HMV.

Raga Miya Ki Malhar


Raga Komal Rishabh Asavari


dagar family 1936 zahiruddin fahimuddin aminuddin rahimuddin dagar

Young Aminuddin and Zahiruddin Dagar appear in this photo taken in 1936 in Indore – appearing solemn and downcast – understandable since their father Nasiruddin Khan had passed away a few months ago and their mother and elder brother Moinuddin had left for Jaipur. The little child in the lap of their uncle Rahimuddin Khan Dagar could be Faiyazuddin Dagar or one of their sisters – I am not sure. Standing between Zahiruddin and Aminuddin is young Fahimuddin Dagar.

The importance of Dhrupad compositions is that each is a model of the various angs or aspects of a raga – composed by a master Dhrupad singer and passed on from generation to generation as an example of the raga. Compositions document history, folklore, mythology, philosophical and musical concepts. Special compositions were created as pedagogical tools to illustrate certain concepts or methods of treatment. One huge task before us is to locate and digitize and make accessible to the public all existing material on Dhrupad.

The  task would have been much easier 40 or 50 years ago when recording technology had become widely and easily available and there were many knowledgeable musicians still  around. Right now the task is daunting if not overwhelming. Its a bit like embarking on an archaeological excavation without even knowing where to start digging.

Ashish Sankrityayan

Dhrupad Kendra Bhopal

 

A Tribute to Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar

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Interview of Ustad Z. F. Dagar by Deepak Raja

A Tribute to Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar

Came across this old interview of Ustad Z. F. Dagar where he talks about his creation – The Dhrupad Kendra, Bhopal. It is truly wonderful how reasoned, trenchant and lively Ustad’s observations are in all his public pronouncements.

Directorship of the Dhrupad Kendra was an opportunity and a challenge, and it was this man’s utter unorthodoxy and willingness to break rules in an intelligent manner that allowed him to overcome adversity and very trying circumstances and do what none of his Gharana members would probably have done…. which is to develop new innovative and unorthodox ways of teaching under new circumstances, to spread the knowledge outside the confines of the Gharana and still keep as true to the tradition as possible.

The traditional method of training in the Dagar family was of course developed keeping in view that it started very early – at an age of 5 or 6 years.  The training focused on techniques which were grounded using exercises that had to be repeated for hours using a chain of beads (tezbi) to keep count. The exercises trained the child not only in the techniques but embodied the entire grammar of the music that was to be taught later.  After many years of this grounding came Alap and compositions and then the whole conceptual framework, the grammar – the shastra – behind the whole music.

With his mandate to produce performers within four years Ustad Z. F. Dagar developed a system where the initial long grounding with exercises was shortened to a few months after which the training quickly went on to Alap, compositions and improvisation. He encouraged his students to improvise and sing on their own, which is why most of his students became very confident and successful performers.

Everything has its pros and cons and today I raise a toast to the genius of Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar and what he achieved in his life. Like all geniuses Chote Ustad and indeed all his brothers of the Dagar Gharana are complex, charismatic and truly lovable personalities. Despite their fierce and often bitter mutual rivalries, the difficult circumstances after Indian independence and the erosion and fragmentation of knowledge due to their  internecine family warfare, the descendants of Zakiruddin and Allabande Khan  – The Dagar Brothers – managed to keep the essence of their knowledge and art alive ,  often making great personal sacrifices and  stoically enduring the disdain and neglect of a society  that did not value a contemplative  form that  did not strive to entertain or please. Their story is the story of all the triumphs and failings of the Gharana system in North Indian music which evolved under feudal patronage, whereby a style or a whole genre becomes the hereditary profession of a family.

Meeting them was like coming across a slice of history, of suddenly walking into another age. Hearing myself speak today I realize that I have subconsiciouly imbibed after all these years of sitting in front of them trying to catch every word they utter – their rich Hindi Urdu Sanskrit blend – in the words of Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar “mili jhuli ganga jamni zabaan”. I consider myself truly fortunate to have been able to know and observe my Gurus from fairly close. Looking back at all the ups and downs of my complex relations with them, I can only be filled with great awe, love and respect. How could I have been chosen to come into contact with something so old and so deep. Just my destiny or random chance I guess.

After my recent appointment as director of the Dhrupad Kendra Bhopal, the position held by Ustad for many years during which he single handedly reworked the future of the tradition, my

Rahim Fahmimuddin Dagar cleaning Tezbi of Allabande Khan

Rahim Fahmimuddin Dagar cleaning Tezbi of Allabande Khan (click for video)

job over the next few years would be to strengthen the institution he founded and use it to further the interests of the Dhrupad tradition with fairness, objectivity, impartiality and above all with kindness and humility.

Having benefited from Ustad Z. F. Dagar’s innovative teaching which instilled great confidence and the ability to improvise on ones own and also the more orthodox and traditional teaching of his elder cousin Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar which emphasized long grounding in techniques and concepts using repetitive exercises – I combined the two systems in my own teaching in the Dhrupad Kendra with good results.

There is a little video clip of Fahimuddin Dagar cleaning the Tezbi – the chain of beads used to keep count while repeating an exercise – of his grandfather Allabande Khan while teaching. Exercises like this have many subtleties and complexities that may not be immediately obvious to the uninitiated. It is possible to teach the entire technique, grammar and conceptual framwork of Dhrupad through such exercises.

(Students of Dhrupad Kendra Bhopal sing at the Tansen Festival at the end of their first year of training in December 2012)

The rate of attrition of knowledge in Dhrupad in recent times has been exponential. Only 20 or 30 years ago a huge repertoire of compositions still remained with some known and many obscure Dhrupad singers, most of whom were struggling to keep singing and at the same time earn a livelihood. I recently tried to locate disciples or recordings of Dhrupad singer Bharatji Vyas (1923-1983) who lived in Baroda, and I came up on a blank wall. Nothing remains except a few recordings of rare compositions in rare ragas with the Sangeet Natak Academy.

Although I am a singer of the style of Dhrupad practised by Ustad and his brothers, I consider it my duty to also work for the preservation of all traditions of Dhrupad and hope that this job will help me in addressing this task as well. Much of the composed repertoire of Dhrupad was common to all the traditions. One hears different versions of the same composition being sung by singers of vastly different traditions.

There are many more names I need to look into: T. L. Rana, Gajanana Thakur, Hari Shankar Mishra, Radheshyam Dagur of Tikamgarh…. to see if they left behind a few recordings or taught a few students or notated at least some of the compositions in some handwritten manuscript gathering dust and mould or being devoured by termites somewhere.

Some handwritten manuscripts I have located are being zealously guarded by family members of departed musicians who expect to be paid considerable sums of money to part with them. Yet seeing the colossal amounts being mentioned in connection with corruption scandals I cannot blame them. What they expect in comparison for true gems of our heritage is absolute peanuts!

Most of that composed repertoire of Dhrupad – little fixed models of Ragas created by master Dhrupad singers of the past to encapsulate the various concepts of classical music and pass them on from generation to generation has now gone to the grave, because the state system failed to reach out to these people and support them and record for posterity the precious bits of knowledge they carried. The recently enlivened debate on corruption and the abuse of power and misuse of public institutions has yet to permeate into the realm of art, culture and heritage management but is sorely needed there. It will also come. Everyone is waiting for someone to stand up and bell the cat.

All said and done a lot of knowledge has been lost in the last few decades and yet a lot still remains thanks to the efforts of individual Gurus like Ustad Z. F. Dagar and others who dared to take the initiative and do what they believed should be done in the vastly changed circumstances after independence when the entire class of highly cultivated and musically sophisticated royal patrons literally disappeared overnight. To quote one of my gurus (Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar) – “yeh sab to bas jhaadan hai. khazane to sab chale gaye. lekin yeh bhi kafi hai.” – These are all just leftovers … the real treasures are all gone.. but still this is enough.

In many systems redundancy makes it at least theoretically possible to reconstruct the whole from fragments. Lets hope that the same would be possible for Dhrupad.

ref – Dhrupada – Indurama Shrivastava 1980 Motilal Banarasidass

- Ashish Sankrityayan

Nasir Aminuddin Dagar – Bangal Bhairav

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Elder Dagar Brothers Nasir Moinuddin and Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Elder Dagar Brothers Nasir Moinuddin and Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

This is a very rare composition in Raga Bangal Bhairav – an uncommon Raga -sung by Nasir Aminuddin Dagar without pakhawaj accompaniment in the 1980′s at a concert in Delhi. The photo shows Aminuddin Dagar (left) with his elder brother and singing partner Ustad Nasir Moinuddin Dagar.  After the death of Moinuddin Dagar in 1966 Aminuddin Dagar sang alone – only rarely teaming up with some other cousins. He also changed the pitch of his singing far lower than what he used to sing in with his elder brother. As can be seen in the recordings here.


CDs and DVDs  of Dhrupad on Cdbaby –  Miya Ki Malhar Abhogi and LalitYaman and Malkauns

Recording from the personal archives of Ashish Sankrityayan

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June 23, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Nasir Aminuddin Dagar – Sawni Barwa

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Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagr

Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar sings a composition in Chowtal ( 12 beats) in Sawani Barwa.From a concert in Delhi in the1980′s.

CDS AND DVDS OF DHRUPAD ON CDBABY– Miya Ki Malhar Abhogi and LalitYaman and Malkauns

recording from the personal archives of Ashish Sankrityayan


It is interesting to compare this with another performance (below) of the same composition in 1991 in Bhopal where he sings a different ornamentation in the beginning and also in other places. Orally transmitted compositions probably mutate a lot in this way.


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June 23, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Dhrupad Alap – Raga Bageshree

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Dhrupad Alap in Raga Bageshree – excerpt from a concert – Ashish Sankrityayan

CDS AND DVDS OF DHRUPAD ON CDBABY– Miya Ki Malhar Abhogi and LalitYaman and Malkauns

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June 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Elder Dagar Brothers Raga Desi

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Elder Dagar Brothers Nasir Moinuddin and Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Here is a recording made from a radio broadcast in 1965 of Ustads Nasir Moinuddin and Nasir Aminuddin Dagar singing Raga Desi – Alap followed by the Dhamar ‘udho tuma jaaye kaho hari paas tuma bina kaiso phaaguna maas’. This recording is from the collection of Maharawal Mahipalsinghji Sab of Dungarpur.


CDs and DVDs of Dhrupad on Cdbaby

Miya Ki Malhar Abhogi and LalitYaman and Malkauns

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