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Archive for the ‘pakhawaj accompaniment’ Category

Ustad Nasiruddin Khan at the Coffee House, Calcutta

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Nasiruddin Khan – the torch bearer of the Behram Khani Dhrupad tradition after his illustrious predecessors, his uncle Zakiruddin and father Allabande, had a great following among the cognoscenti in Bengal. His remarkable singing, his great knowledge of shastra and his extraordinary mastery over shruti, the microtones that bring out the flavour of ragas has been written about by several writers – Dhurjati Prasad Mukhopadhyay, Gyan Prakash Ghosh, and Suresh Chakrabarty to name a few.  His reputation  had already preceded him when he visited the city in the last week of December 1935 to perform at the 2nd All Bengal Conference. The star of the first conference of 1934, inaugurated by Tagore the previous year at the Senate Hall, had been Faiyaz Khan, and Nasiruddin Khan proved to be the most talked about performer in the second. Yet when he took to the stage in the first of his two performances at the Conference on 29th December at the University Institute Albert Hall College Square, he was greeted with a half empty hall. The musicians and connoisseurs were of course present since many had heard him before in Allahabad and Varanasi in the preceding years, but some members of the public had left – a striking reminder of the waning interest in dhrupad.

Nasiruddin Khan Amrita Bazar All Bengal Conference 1935

Review of the All Bengal Conference 1935 in the Amrita Bazar hails Nasiruddin Khan as its Central Attraction

Nasiruddin Khan sang raga desh followed by bhatiyar, accompanied on pakhavaj by Vijay Singh – son of the renowned Parbat Singh. His second morning session at the conference had a full audience, as word about his remarkable singing had by then spread. He sang todi and bhairavi. He of course accompanied his singing with his remarkable exposition on shastra for which he was well known. The Amrita Bazar Patrika hailed him as the ‘Central Attraction’ of the Conference and devoted nearly half of its review of the conference to his singing. This would however prove to be Nasiruddin Khan’s only visit to Calcutta and also his last major appearance in a conference. He was invited to perform again in the next All-Bengal but passed away sometime the following year in his early forties. Born in Udaipur in the early 1890’s, his untimely death at the height of his fame was a major turning point for dhrupad. Several writers have called him the last of the giants of dhrupad. It is indeed unthinkable today that a dhrupad singer would be hailed as the ‘Central Attraction’ of a major four day conference featuring over fifty artists.

Advertisement of the 1938 All Bengal Conference in the Amrita Bazar Patrika

Advertisement of the January 1938 All Bengal Conference in the Amrita Bazar Patrika

After his death his younger brother Rahimuddin Khan appeared at a repeat session of the conference at the University Institute College Square on 5th April 1937. His performance of malkauns which was followed by Enayet Khan’s sitar, was lauded by the Amrita Bazar Patrika which stated that like his elder brother Rahimuddin Khan seemed to have a passion for Alap. Rahimuddin also performed at the All Bengal the following year 1938 in January.

Nasiruddin Khan’s elder cousin Ziauddin Khan – son of Zakiruddin Khan, performed in the All Bengal at the First Empire theatre on 30th December 1940 evening, singing raga darbari kanada, and 1st December 1941 in the morning session, accompanied by Nasiruddin’s eldest son Moinuddin.

The Albert Hall in 1942 became the Coffee House, and we can get a pretty good idea of where the stage on which Nasiruddin Khan and others sang in the 2nd All Bengal was located in today’s coffee house, by comparing later pictures  with this photo on the last page of the Amrita Bazar Patrika of 5th January 1936 which appears alongside miscellaneous photos from the Independence movement,  of Mussolini’s children, M. Visveswaria, Prince Aly Khan shopping in New Market, sports champions and the Bertram Mills Circus. The Conference was of course in the pre-microphone era. By  visiting the Coffee House on College Street after closing hours today we could get a pretty good idea of the kind of acoustics to which Nasiruddin Khan and others sang in the conference, since the space does not seem to have changed much since those days. Given its high ceiling I would expect the acoustics to be very impressive, which is also evident from the awesome din of voices during business hours. What a pity we don’t use venues like this for acoustic concerts instead of using the awful mikes and loud amplification in spaces with dead acoustics today, that kills all nuances.

albert-hall.jpg

Indian-Coffee-House-Kolkata(2)Coffee House

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have discussed at length the various available accounts of Nasiruddin Khan’s singing including his appearance at the All-Bengal, The All-India Conferences of V. N. Bhatkhande, the Allahabad University and other conferences as also accounts of performances of Zakiruddin, Allabande, Riyazuddin, Ziauddin and Rahimuddin Khan in my soon to be published book – Dhrupad of the Dagars, Conceptual Foundations and Contemporary Questions, Munshiram Manoharlal Pvt. Ltd.

photos of the coffee house from
http://www.andhrawishesh.com/375-wishesh-special/38621-yatra-wishesh-a-journey-through-nostalgia-with-indian-coffee-house-kolkata.html
and
http://tasveerjournal.com/2012/11/12/disappearing-professions-in-urban-india/

 

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.

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 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.

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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.

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.

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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Written by dhrupad1234

June 23, 2009 at 1:41 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.

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