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Pakhāvaj Accompaniment With Aṅgs

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ayodhya_prasad_pakhavaj

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.

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Nasir Aminuddin Dagar – Raga Purvi

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Nasir Aminuddin DagarUstad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar sings Raga Purvi – recorded Nasir Aminuddin Dagarfrom a radio broadcast in the 1960s by Maharawal Mahipalsinghji Sab of Dungarpur. Accompaniment to Chowtal composition on Tabla. Names of Tabla and Sarangi accompanists not known. As in all his early performances the tanpura is tuned higher in D# than the lower B or B flat that he used later.

Written by dhrupad1234

January 27, 2015 at 4:20 pm

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.

Written by dhrupad1234

January 26, 2015 at 4:15 pm

The Search for Published and Unpublished Works on Dhrupad

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Rag Prakash of Madhav Singh

Rag Prakash of Madhav Singh

In a dhrupad performance the exposition of the Raga through the abstract syllabic alap is followed by the singing of a composed melody with lyrics, set to a tala or a cycle of beats accompanied by a barrel drum – the pakhāwaj. Strictly speaking it is the composed melody, which usually has four parts, that bears the name dhrupad, although the term is now used to identify the entire genre including the alap. A Dhrupad Composition actually embodies within it all the principles of the music, and serves as a model of the exposition of the raga, composed by a master dhrupad singer not only for his own performance, but as a musical statement for subsequent oral transmission to succeeding generations. Compositions represent the fixed repertoire of Dhrupad and encapsulate the musical knowledge and wisdom of many generations of Dhrupad singers.  Compositions were often created to illustrate specific aspects of the grammar of music. The lyrics of compositions contain a wealth of information about history, folklore, mythology, philosophy and the conceptual  framework of music. In an oral tradition compositions of course mutate with time and one finds many different versions of the same composition prevalent in different traditions in different parts of the country.

a composition from Sangeet Samuccaya

Sangeet Samuccaya 1924

 

Efforts to notate and publish books of Dhrupad compositions started in the 19th Century when mechanized printing came to India. Before the age of mass printing,  singers had attempted to notate and keep their repertoire of compositions from being forgotten or distorted. However such works were mostly kept for personal reference and use, and access to them if at all permitted to others, was restricted to the closest disciples or relatives of the author. The compilation Sangeet Samuccaya done by Beenkar Shivendranath Basu in 1924 mentions that Dulahsen or Budhprakash – a descendant of Tansen wrote a work notating compositions of his tradition which remained with his descendants. Many such works remained in private hands  zealously guarded from the public and eventually it may be presumed that many such works were lost or destroyed. I personally know of a handwritten manuscript of  Radheshyamji Sharma, son of Sitaramji Sharma- the pre-independence court musician of Tikamgarh, with notations of about 400 compositions of Dhrupad, which I briefly saw some years ago in the zealously guarded possession of a relative, which is now completely untraceable.

Dhrupad Composition Sangit Kaladhar 1901

Dhrupad Composition Sangit Kaladhar 1901

Sangit Kaladhar 1901

Sangit Kaladhar 1901

Most works were published with the support of wealthy patrons like Maharajas and Zamindars – like the Sangit Kaladhar of 1901 published by the Maharaja of Bhavnagar written by his court musician Dahyalal Shivram.

Publisher of Sangit Kaladhar Maharaja of Bhavnagar

Maharaja of Bhavnagar

Many works were only partly published or could never be published at all because of a lack of funds.  Like the Sangeet Sudha Sagar of Prankrishna Chattopadhyaya with compositions in uncommon Ragas, of which only a fraction of the first volume was printed by the author at his own expense in the 1950’s. The author  a student of Tansen descendant Nihal Sen of Jaipur and of Dagar tradition singer Abban Khan of  Pratapgarh, mentions in the preface that he has applied for State funding and hopes to publish the entire work with 240 compositions of the tradition of Tansen in the first volume. Since the author’s teacher Nihalsen was a descendant of Dulahsen it is quite probable that his work contained many of the compositions notated by Dulahsen in his manuscript.

Sangeet Sudha Sagar of Prankrishna Chattopadhyaya

Sangeet Sudha Sagar of Prankrishna Chattopadhyaya

My enquiries have revealed that the handwritten notes with his descendants got destroyed by termites. However the author did manage to get some State grants towards the end of his life and there is a small chance that a copy of the manuscript survives somewhere. The first volume of the Sangeet Samuccaya mentions that the second volume with 200 compositions is being printed and the author mentions that he has managed to collect notations of more than a thousand compositions. However the second volume never actually got printed. The work was being published by the Nagri Pracharini Sabha the predecessor of Bharat Kala Bhavan Varanasi which underwent major changes and a shift of venue in the late 1920s. It is a major task now to locate the unpublished parts of of works like the Sangeet Sudha Sagar and the Sangeet Samuccaya if they still survive.

Photo from Sangeet Sudha Sagar of Nihalsen of Jaipur The Authors's Main Teacher

Photo from Sangeet Sudha Sagar of Nihalsen of Jaipur The Authors’s Main Teacher

With most of the repertoire of compositions of Dhrupad now lost or fragmented and distorted, it is a work of great importance to try to save whatever survives of books and unpublished manuscripts. Manuscripts of unpublished works that still survive have to be found, digitized and published.  One can see from studying works written decades ago how ragas have gradually changed over time. Dhrupad singers who are traditionally trained and steeped in the knowledge of tradition can then use their training to reconstruct repair and restore compositions that have been distorted or lost and bring them back to life.

These works  contain not only compositions but sargam and prastara exercises, instrumental gats, pakhawaj bols and a wealth of information on the concepts and grammar of music. They reveal unique insights into the concepts of music. For instance the Sarod Rasa Chandrika of 1938 written by a student of Tansen descendant Sarod player Amir Khan gives numerous instrumental compositions classified according to the four banis of Dhrupad. One of the rare instances of classification of compositions according to banis.

Sarod Rasa Chandrika by Nirendra Krishna Mitra

Sarod Rasa Chandrika

Nad Vinod Granth Tala Chapter

Laya Prashna of Kudao Singh Pakhawaji 19th Century

Laya Prashna of Kudao Singh Pakhawaji 19th Century

The complex charts and diagrams and the cryptic terminology in the handwritten Laya Prashna of Kudao Singh the originator of the Kudao Singh style of pakhawaj are scarcely intelligible to pakhawaj exponents today, yet similar diagrams and explanations in the Tala section of the Nad Vinod Granth of 1896 of Pannalal Goswami might give us the key to understanding Kudao Singh’s methods.

Texts like the Rag Prakash and Raga Kalpadrum give listings of texts of Dhrupad compositions and are invaluable for removing textual distortions in compositions  as also reconstructing lost parts from fragments that survive in the oral tradition or in recordings.

Texts of Dhrupad Compositions Raga Kalpadrum

Texts of Dhrupad Compositions Raga Kalpadrum

I have over the last 30 years tried to find and digitize published and unpublished works with my own resources and hope that sometime soon a well funded systematic initiative can be launched to carry out this task on a war footing. Along with the digitization what needs to be done is a detailed indexing and creation of a database of all available material including audio and video recordings which dhrupad practitioners could use to regain lost knowledge.

Rag Prakash

Texts of Dhrupads in Rag Prakash

 

On this link can be found a partial list of works that I have managed to digitize – Rare Books on Dhrupad . In the videos below are several examples of Dhrupad compositions that I found in such rare books and developed using my knowledge from tradition to use in my performances and teaching. – The main cost involved in the work of looking for rare books and manuscripts  is of course travel. Many of the rare books have been found in the dusty shelves of old libraries and private collections in small towns. There are  many places I need to go to – Lucknow, Baroda, Dhar, Ujjain, Calcutta to follow up leads. Donations supporting this work are welcome. Ashish Sankrityayan

 

Kathak Choreography by Vidyagauri Adkar  to a Composition of Chaturbiharidas in Four Parts in Raga Barwa Tala Sultaal from Sangeet Chandrika of Gopeshwar Banerjee, Khajuraho Festival of Dances 2014 

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Odissi Choreography by Bithika Mistry  to a Composition of Swami Haridas  in Four Parts in Raga Bhimpalasi Tala Tivra from Sangeet Manjarl of Ramprasanna Banerjee, Khajuraho Festival of Dances 2014

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Students of Ashish Sankrityayan Sing a Composition in Four Parts of Suratsen in Raga Yaman Tala Sultal from Sangeet Manjarl of Ramprasanna Banerjee


All articles on this blog © Ashish Sankrityayan. No part may be used except with written permission and explicit acknowledgement.

Manuscripts of Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar

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Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar had a considerable collection of hand written manuscripts of his ancestors – mostly of his grandfather Allabande Khan, his uncle Nasiruddin Khan and his father Rahimuddin Khan Dagar. After the untimely death of Nasiruddin Khan Dagar in 1936 the possession of these manuscripts had caused frictions in the family.

During my long apprenticeship as his disciple I would often see him leafing through them. I would try to use every such occasion to let my video camera range over pages that he opened and have in the process managed to record some fragments of the writings. For example rummaging through his papers one day he came across these loose sheets pinned together which he could not identify at first. A close examination revealed that they were prastara exercises for the Veena written by his uncle Nasiruddin Khan in 1912 in Alwar Rajasthan.

Dhrupad Prastara Exercises Nasiruddin Khan Dagar

Dhrupad Prastara Exercises Nasiruddin Khan Dagar Dhrupad Prastara Exercises Nasiruddin Khan Dagar Dhrupad Prastara Exercises Nasiruddin Khan Dagar

 

 

 

The video grabs above give us the title page with the author’s name and the first page. It should be possible to understand the logic or the algorithm if there is one from such fragments.

Here is a little video of him reading aloud the text of a Dhrupad composition from such a manuscript written by his grandfather Allabande Khan in 1908.


The second video shows the first page of the same manuscript and has him chiding me for wanting to know in a minute what supposedly take years to understand. If the names of the famous Dhrupad singers he reads aloud are of the authors of the compositions whose texts are written in the manuscript then it would be a very interesting one indeed.

For a long time the knowledge of the grammar and conceptual framework of Dhrupad was kept as privileged knowledge to be revealed only to a few chosen bearers of the tradition. Fahimuddin Dagar was enormously protective about his manuscripts, his enormous knowledge and insight. A part of his guardedness was of  course due to the concern that the knowledge should be given through the right process to someone who would be able to carry the tradition forward

I would often bring him texts of Dhrupad compositions I found in rare books in the hope that he might remember some and spontaneously sing them. Here is his singing of the first part of a composition in Deosakh when he found a variant of its text in the Urdu version of Nad Vinod Granth (which is why I cannot read it). I try to coax him to sing the second part – he reads the text aloud but is unwilling to sing it or cannot remember the melody immediately.

Here is the same composition text from the Hindi version of Nad Vinod. Some kind of a reconstruction of the 2nd part – the antara based on the structure of the 1st part sung by him in this video would be possible for a singer who knows the Raga well. However it would not be as straightforward as reconstructing the 3rd and 4th parts – the sanchari and abhog from the 1st and 2nd as outlined in a previous post.

Text of Dhrupad Composition in Deosakh Nad Vinod Granth Pannalal Goswami 1896

Text of Dhrupad Composition in Deosakh Nad Vinod Granth Pannalal Goswami 1896

Perhaps the most interesting manuscript in his possession was what appeared to be an entire book on music written by his grandfather Allabande Khan in 1890. I saw a few pages of it – it has diagrams and tables and is probably on concepts of music. He can be seen reading from it in the beginning of my documentary film on Dhrupad.

I don’t know if all the manuscripts in the possession of Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar would ever become publicly accessible to be used by students and researchers of Dhrupad. The same sad story has been repeated often enough – of manuscripts in the zealously guarded possession of families in the end getting lost or destroyed – like the manuscript of Budhprakash of Seni compositions or the one of Radheshyamji of Tikamgarh. I hope this won’t happen with the manuscripts of the Dagar tradition that Fahimuddin Dagar had.
All articles on this blog © Ashish Sankrityayan. No part may be used except with written permission and explicit acknowledgement.

The Martial Feats of Emperor Aurangzeb – Adana Dhrupad Composition

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Many Dhrupad compositions which still survive fragmentarily in the living repertoire of singers or in old recordings can be found in their entirety in old manuscripts, books and journals.

Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Here is a composition in Sooltal in Raga Adana by Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar from a concert in Delhi in the 1980’s. Pakhawaj player not known. The beginning is missing which is why he seems to start abruptly with the antara and comes back to sing the sthayi again. The composition curiously refers to the martial feats of fanatical Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who had banned music from his kingdom.

The composition obviously dates before 1668-69 when Aurangzeb imposed the ban. While this recording has only the first two parts of the composition, I found all the four parts in a manuscript of about 400 dhrupad compositions written by Sanatan Sil, a dhrupad singer who studied both instrumental and vocal dhrupad from several prominent musicians of the Seni, Vishnupur and Betiah traditions – like Birendrakishor Roychowdhury, Shibkumar Mitra and Bamacharan Sil – a student of the well known Dhrupad singer Danibabu of the Betiah tradition.

Satish Chandra Dutta aka Danibabu Dhrupad Singer Betiah Tradition (1877-1958)

Danibabu Dhrupad Singer Betiah Tradition (1877-1958)

Like many fine dhrupad singers in the last century, he never took it up as a profession despite reaching a high standard of excellence, but worked in a bank while keeping up a regular routine of  practice,  teaching and occasional performances. The notations in Sil’s manuscript are so clear and well written that it could be straightaway published as a book.

Dhrupad Singer and Rudra Veena Player Sanatan Sil

Sanatan Sil

Sil’s manuscript lists it as a Khandarbani composition which agrees well with what my teacher Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar told me about such fast paced compositions in the veer rasa or valourous sentiment. Sources which list Ragas or compositions on the basis of the Banis of Dhrupad are quite rare. Examples of such classification are the Sarod Rasa Chandrika of Nirendrakrishna Mitra 1938 as also the recordings of Bharatji Vyas in the SNA archives.

Notation of Dhrupad in Adana in Praise of Aurangzeb - Sanatan Sil

Dhrupad on Aurangzeb

Nalin Behari Ghosh Dhrupad Singer and Bank Executive

Nalin Behari Ghosh Dhrupad Singer and Grindlays Bank Executive (1890? – 1960?)

Another dhrupad singer of the 1st half of the 20th century associated with the Vishnupur and Betiah traditions who never took it up as a profession was Nalinbehari Ghosh. Like Sanatan Sil he also worked in a bank. His manuscript of notations of dhrupads seems to have been more for his personal reference rather than publication. Here is his notation of a Dhamar composition in Kumari and a chowtal dhrupad in Kamod Nat. Nalin Behari Ghosh was an associate of Aghorbabu and Amarbabu two well known dhrupad singers of the 1st half of the 20th century.  A lot of valuable material of Dhrupad especially compositions has been preserved by singers like Sanatan Sil and Nalinbehari Ghosh who pursued it as a private passion while supporting themselves from other professions.  It was difficult in those times to make a living from Dhrupad. Even a well known singer like Danibabu had a job in the Railways. After independence survival as a professional Dhrupad singer became even more difficult with the disappearance of aristocratic patrons.

Radhika Prasad Goswami

Radhika Prasad Goswami

Till a few decades ago Bengal had many Dhrupad singers who were associated with the traditions of Vishnupur and Bettiah. Many of these singers published compositions in books and journals. The best known of them being the brothers Ramprasanna and Gopeshwar Bandopadhyaya who published the Sangeet Manjari and the Sangeet Chandrika. Another renowned Dhrupad singer of Bengal was Radhika Prasad Goswami whose obituary appears in the January 1925 issue of the journal Sangeet Vigyan Praveshika to which he often contributed.

Dhrupad Raga Hem Khem

Dhrupad Raga Hem Khem

Here is a Dhrupad composition notated by him in the uncommon Raga Hem Khem that appeared posthumously in  the July 1925 issue of the magazine. The  article accompanying his obituary also mentions that shortly before his death he was awarded the second prize in the All India Music Conference at Lucknow, the first prize being given to Allabande Khan.  It is even now possible to find in Bengal, old students of students of  singers like Danibabu, Radhika Prasad Goswami and Ramprasanna and Gopeshwar Bandopadhyaya, many of whom  never took up music as a profession but possess a wealth of knowledge and sometimes also old notes and manuscripts of their teachers.

Dhamar in Kumari from Notes of Nalin Behari Ghosh

Dhamar in Kumari from Notes of Nalin Behari Ghosh

Dhrupad in Kamod Nat - Notes of Nalin Behari Ghosh

Dhrupad in Kamod Nat – Notes of Nalin Behari Ghosh

Dhrupad in Adana in Praise of Aurangzeb Sanatan Sil

Dhrupad in Adana in Praise of Aurangzeb notes of Sanatan Sil

Several compositions whose first two parts exist in recordings by Aminuddin Dagar or his brothers can be found in their entirety with all the four parts in manuscripts or old books and journals.

Dhrupad of  Sujan Khan

Dhrupad of Sujan Khan

Here is an example from the notes of Sanatan Sil of a Dhrupad of Sujan Khan in Jhaptal in Raga Megh whose first two parts are often sung in the Dagar tradition in  Raga Surdasi Malhar in the same Tala and another in Raga Darbari Kanada in Tala Chautal from the  November 1925 issue of the Sangeet Vigyan Praveshika.

Dhrupad Darbari Kanada Shadaja Rishabha

Dhrupad Darbari Kanada Shadaja Rishabha

Recording from the personal archives of Ashish Sankrityayan

All articles on this blog © Ashish Sankrityayan. No part may be used except with written permission and explicit acknowledgement.

CDS AND DVDS OF DHRUPAD ON CDBABY

—  Miya Ki Malhar Abhogi and LalitYaman and Malkauns

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.