Dhrupad – Archives

Audio and Video Recordings and Articles on Dhrupad and the Dagar Tradition All articles © Ashish Sankrityayan

Archive for the ‘rahimuddin dagar’ Category

Pakhāvaj Accompaniment With Aṅgs

leave a comment »


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.

Manuscripts of Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar

with one comment

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.

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

with 2 comments

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

Dhrupad in Asavari  Text and Notation Master Krishnarao

Dhrupad in Asavari Text and Notation Master Krishnarao

It is often difficult to understand the text from such recordings. The text of this Asavari composition can be found in vol 3 of Raga Sangraha of Master Krishnarao along with a notation that is more or less along the lines of the rendition of Rahimuddin Dagar. Popular compositions like this one  remained in wide circulation in the oral tradition and the amazing thing is that usually the different versions agree in the overall structure and design despite coming from vastly different lineages of singers in widely separated parts of the country.

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


Govindrao Burhanpurkar and other Pakhawaj Maestros of Yesteryears

with 5 comments

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

with one comment

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

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

Written by dhrupad1234

June 23, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Raga Shree – the Styles of Zakiruddin and Allabande / Rahimuddin Khan Dagar

leave a comment »

Dhrupad Maestros of the Dagar Family (ca 1918)An interview with Ustad Rahimuddin Khan Dagar by musicologist S K Saxena in which Rahimuddin Khan talks about his teachers and illustrates the styles of his Uncle Zakiruddin Khan and his father Allabande Khan using phrases of alap in Raga Shree. In the photos on the left clockwise from upper left are Zakiruddin Khan, Allabande Khan, Ziauddin Khan and Nasiruddin Khan (photo around 1918). Although progressively improving recording technology became available during their lifetimes, none of these singers were recorded, although Nasiruddin Khan and Ziauddin Khan certainly broadcasted on Radio. Digital processing can now given us wonderful restorations of recordings from the early 20th century. It is a matter of great regret that no one thought of persuading these singers thought by many to have been the last of their kind in Dhrupad to  record their music.

An excellent and very insightful contemporary account and analysis of their singing has been given by S. K. Choubey in his book Musicians I have met . Ustad Nasiruddin Khan by S K Choubey

An account of Zakiruddin Khan’s rendition of Raga Megh at the 1916 Baroda All India Music conference has been given by Atiya Begum Fyzee Rahamin in her book Sangeet of India 1942.

In the other photo Nasiruddin Khan sits with his cousin Ustad Ziauddin Khan.

Ustads Nasiruddin Khan and Ziauddin Khan Dagar

Ustads Nasiruddin Khan and Ziauddin Khan Dagar

Recording from the personal archives of Ashish Sankrityayan

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

Written by dhrupad1234

June 24, 2008 at 7:43 am

Raga Kedar / Rahimuddin Dagar

with 2 comments


Recording of Rahimuddin Dagar singing Raga Kedar – Brief Alap followed by the Dhamar “maana taja de ri aali aayo hai phaaguna maas’. (1950’s 6mins 37 secs)

Rahimuddin Dagar probably had the greatest mastery over the difficult voice technique of the Dagars among all who were recorded. Notice the effortless use of changing resonances in the voice. The Dhamar lyrics enjoin a beautiful maiden ( Radha?) to leave her reticence and join the revelry of holi. Notice the feeling of supplication in the words “maana taja” and the commanding tone of the “de’ while coming to the first beat – the sam.

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

Photo from http://www.dhrupad.info/rahimuddin.htm where you will also find a brief biography of this maestro. An insightful account of Rahimuddin Dagar’s music has been given by S.K. Chaubey in his book ‘Musicians I have Met (1958)’ – Ustad Rahimuddin Khan by S.K. Chaubey
Recording from the personal archives of Ashish Sankrityayan

Written by dhrupad1234

February 10, 2008 at 11:44 am