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Pakhāvaj Accompaniment With Aṅgs

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Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar would often talk of pakhāvaj accompaniment that follows the aṅgs of singing, for improvisation in dhrupad compositions is a demonstration of the facets or aṅgs of the rāga within the constraint of the lyrics of the composition and the structure of the tāla – its inner subdivisions and points of emphasis – the tālī and khālī. He  would praise the accompaniment of pakhāvaj players like the famed Ayodhya Prasad and Govindrao Burhanpurkar with his father that he heard in his youth.

Here is an example of the kind of pakhāvaj accompaniment he talked about – most probably by Ayodhya Prasad. A very perceptive account of his pakhāvaj playing is given by S. K. Choubey in his essay – Pandit Ayodhya Prasad in Musicians I Have Met (Uttar Pradesh State Publications Department 1958). This and other essays in Choubey’s book are also examples of the kind of critical writing on art and the discussions that went on in musical circles in the pre-Independence era when people freely expressed their opinions and an article on a musician or a performance could also be a critique of some or all aspects unlike articles now which merely express banalities and fulsome praise. I have dealt in detail with many of these aspects in my book Dhrupad of the Dagars – Conceptual Foundations and Contemporary Questions, which is about to go to the press.

Govindrao Burhanpurkar and other Pakhawaj Maestros of Yesteryears

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Elder Dagar Brothers with Pt. Govindrao Burhanpurkar on Pakhawaj

The grand old man with the elegant bordered cap on the pakhawaj in this photo is none other than great pakhawaj maestro of yesteryears Govindrao Burhanpurkar.

My Guru Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar once identified him to me in this very photograph which I had got printed then from the Sangeet Natak Akademi archives in connection with my work on the Mewar CDs. He reminisced about his magnificient playing with his father Rahimuddin Dagar and said that pakhawaj players like Govindrao Burhanpurkar and his contemporary  Ayodhya Prasad used to play the ‘Angs‘ of singing on the pakhawaj and because they could anticipate these ‘Angs‘,  it was possible to do very long and gradually unfolding developments of compositions with their accompaniment.

Another contemporary pakhawaj player of Govindrao Burhanpurkar  he mentioned and also showed me a photo of,  wearing a similar cap was S. V. Patwardhan, who played brilliantly with the Elder Dagar brothers in their great Darbari Kanada L.P. Unfortunately I never managed to make a copy of that photo. Wish I had since that might be the only picture around of this great pakhawaj player who also passed away in the 1960’s soon after the untimely death of Ustad Nasir Moinuddin Dagar. That brilliant accompaniment in the Darbari/Adana L.P. and a few recordings of his sangat in A.I.R broadcasts with the Elder Dagar Brothers assures him a place in the pakhawaj roll of honour.

Unfortunately this is a poor reproduction from the L.P and does not bring out S.V. Patwardhan’s beautiful resonant bell like sound that I had heard with very good L.P. players and reproducing equipment. I hope H.M.V does a good remastering and releases it again.

What I loved about his sangat was the grand way he gave theka in the beginning and restrained his tremendous virtuosity and speed – only gradually bringing in the fireworks, and all the time  following the ‘Angs‘ of the singing with incredible closeness and anticipation.

I found a picture of this L.P. on this unbelievably named  blog “Anthems for the Nation of Luobania” – which gives photos of the vinyl disc too and also discusses the merits of different pressings…which ones have low surface noise etc. !!! Real Dhrupadiyas among L.P. collectors I must say, to pay such attention to nuances 🙂 . The blog is a must see for all vinyl L.P. lovers!!

Elder Dagar Brothers - Darbari L.P. with S.V. Patwardhan on Pakhawaj

Incredibly enough I googled and found a youtube video with Burhanpurkar Ji’s solo playing taken from an old 78 rpm record. The playing is very virtuosic,  but of course with the tinny sound of a 78 rpm shellac recording, we can only get a distant glimpse of what it would have sounded like in real life- a rare example of pakhawaj solo on shellac. That HMV released it showed the stature that Govindrao Burhanpurkar had among his contemporaries. Hats off to Warren Senders for uploading this and other  78 rpm gems.

Another rare recording of pakhawaj sangat or accompaniment that I have is of  Ambadas Pant Agle  – grandfather of pakhawaj players Sanjay and Chitrangana Agle accompanying Rudra Veena player Abid Hussain Khan of Janjira – a relative and elder of renowned Veena player Late Asad Ali Khan.  Abid Hussain was also a Dhrupad singer and one of the many important tasks of Dhrupad archivists would be to locate his recordings and find students of his who might remember things taught by him.
– Raga Desh, Abid Hussain Khan, Ambadas Pant Agle.  All India Radio Broadcast on 19th September 1963. Recorded by Maharawal Mahipalsinghji of Dungarpur.

Govindrao Burhanpurkar, S. V. Patwardhan, Ambadas Pant Agle – all belonged to the Nana Panse school of pakhawaj,  which emphasized a kind of soft,  sensuous and poetic style of playing as opposed to the  more manly and forceful Kudao Singh style . The Nana Panse style was more prevalent in Maharashtra and Central India while the Kudao Singh style of which Ramashish Pathak and Ayodhya Prasad  are fine  examples  is found in the North and in Bihar.

Dhamar in Purvi – Rahimuddin Khan Dagar

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Ustad Rahimuddin Khan Dagar ( mid 1930s)

Ustad Rahimuddin Khan Dagar ( mid 1930s)

A recording of Ustad Rahimuddin Khan Dagar singing a Dhamar ( cycle of 14 beats) in Raga Purvi. Pakhawaj by Pandit Ayodhya Prasad of the Kudao Singh Gharana. It is interesting that in Radio broadcasts in those days the honorifics Ustad, Pandit etc. were selectively used for some artists. A practice that was subsequently discontinued.

In this photo taken a few months after the death of his illustrious elder Brother Nasiruddin Khan in Indore (1936?) Rahimuddin Khan Sab poses with the children of the household.

An insightful article on Ayodhya Prasad with references to other great pakhawaj maestros like Kudao Singh can be found in the book ‘Musicians I Met’ by S.K. Chaubey – Pandit Ajodhya Prasad by S.K. Chaubey

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Written by dhrupad1234

June 23, 2009 at 12:46 pm