Archive for the ‘pakhawaj accompaniment’ Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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!!
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.
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.
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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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