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Vedanta - Wasifuddin Dagar - Vocal & Bahauddin, Dagar - Rudra Ve
Home » » Sense World Music » Instrumental music » Vedanta - Wasifuddin Dagar - Vocal & Bahauddin, Dagar - Rudra Ve
Vedanta - Wasifuddin Dagar - Vocal & Bahauddin, Dagar - Rudra Ve      
Product Name : Vedanta - Wasifuddin Dagar - Vocal & Bahauddin, Dagar - Rudra Ve
Product Code : Sense094
Product Weight : 150 grams.
Price : £16.00
Wasifuddin Dagar - Vocal
Bahauddin Dagar - Rudra Veena
Pravin Kumar Arya - Pakhawaj
Ms. Laurence Bastit - Tanpura

Rag Malkauns
CD 1
1 Alap 36:14
2 Jor first part 12:11
3 Jor continued 10:49
CD 2
1 First Bandish - Pujan Chali Mahadev 19:04
2 Second Bandish - Shankar Girija Pati 7:06

As the oldest and most influential of musical forms on the subcontinent, dhrupad sounds at once ancient and contemporary. On the one hand the singer's intense focus on every moment, virtually one note at a time, and the determination to take just as long as the music needs whatever the calls on stamina, have an archetypal force. On the other, what you hear can sound like a distillation of almost every current style in North Indian classical music. The way other musicians elaborate a rag still follows a similar pattern to the dhrupad performances that would have predated them by centuries, slow, unmetred presentation of the melodic essence, then an introduction of steady pulses, and eventually compositions and improvisations in fixed rhythmic cycles accompanied by drums. Instrumentalists just as much as singers have, over the years, adopted the distinctive techniques of bending pitches and ornamenting the melody and developed new ways of extending them.

And still dhrupad performances continue. For a while in the later twentieth century they became rare, but in recent years there has been fresh enthusiasm fired as much by the ambitions of younger musicians, who have found ways of letting the art evolve anew, as by the upsurge of international interest that all kinds of Indian music have shared in. Written accounts of dhrupad, perhaps thinking of its credentials as preceding the more fanciful or flamboyant styles, tend to label it with the off-putting adjective 'austere', as though you had to put on a hair shirt to listen properly. Really, though, it would be fairer and more accurate to say 'elemental'. Not only are the elements of music there in abundance, but they are delivered with elemental power. Listening to the alternation of voice and veena in the later stages of this recording, you feel the same visceral thrill as with a singer and rock guitar, for all the differences in the genre. You have to wait longer, to be sure, but the thrill of reaching the highest note, the driving rhythms and spirited inventiveness, deliver a kick that is all the greater for the long build-up.

The Dagar family are a pre-eminent dynasty that kept faith with dhrupad through its years of wider neglect - Wasifuddin Dagar belongs to its 20th generation of singers in a line starting from the 18th century. Born in 1969, he is the nephew of Zahiruddin Dagar and son of Faiyazuddin Dagar, famous internationally as the Dagar Brothers; and he is the grandson of both Nasiruddin Dagar on his father's side and Hussainuddin Dagar on his mother's. Once his talent was recognised, the various elders offered to share their wisdom as is the family habit. Wasif's eldest uncle Aminuddin Dagar was always during his lifetime a great source of inspiration and encouragement. Wasif was under the direct tutelage of his father and uncle from the age of five. They first presented him at a guru-shishya (master-pupil) festival in Bhopal, and after the early death of his father he performed alongside his uncle in February 1989. He was further educated in jugalbandi, the duo singing which is a family speciality, and as the 'Dagar Duo' he and his uncle toured internationally. He continues to be guided by Fahimuddin Dagar, Fariduddin Dagar and Sayeeduddin Dagar.Since the death of his uncle in 1994, Wasifuddin has continued the Dagarvani tradition as a soloist, merging techniques and styles of both his gurus. His presentation of dhrupad is a unique blend of his uncle's training, his father's quality of voice and temperament, his own personality and his knowledge of the
characteristic styles of his elders. Over the years he has developed a liking for numerous subtle variations and musical improvisations on a single phrase, bringing out many diverse shades of meaning.

Bahauddin Dagar, the rudra veena player, belongs to the same generation of the family and was born in 1970. He began his training at the age of eleven under the guidance of his father, the rudra veena maestro Mohiuddin Dagar, considered as the greatest veena player and teacher of his time. After his father died, he continued under the guidance of his uncle Fariduddin Dagar, the eminent dhrupad vocalist who has also guided Wasifuddin and is one of the four last senior Dagars alive. Presenting himself for the first time in 1989, Bahauddin Dagar is now regarded as the leading light of instrumental dhrupad and has toured throughout India and abroad.

The veena used to be studied by all students including singers until the 19th century. It was Mohiuddin Dagar who introduced important changes to it, transforming it into a bass instrument, the rudra veena. It is made of a hollow tube of teak with a flat bridge and movable frets. Gourd resonators are attached near each end, and the instrument is held across the body to lean on one shoulder. It has a notably long resonance, developed to match the slow glissandos typical of the vocal style.

The performance recorded here is a jugalbandi between voice and veena, accompanied during the later stages by the customary barrel drum, the pakhawaj played here by Pravin Kumar Arya, a longtime associate of the Dagar family whose guru was Aminuddin. It took place late at night on 4-5 January 2006, as the fourth and final item in a long evening concert during the 2006 Saptak festival in Ahmedabad, and falls into the usual sections: an unaccompanied alap and jor which together last about an hour, and two bandishes or developments of a composed song melody. The rag is Malkauns, intended for the small hours and often described as majestic and introverted: it uses a pentatonic scale with a 'minor' character, in which the intervals between the notes are either whole tones or minor thirds. Exceptionally, and thanks to Wasifuddin Dagar's vocal range, this performance occupies a full two octaves, reaching both higher and lower than usual.

Of course it is what happens around the notes, the way they are approached, inflected and eventually ornamented, that decides a performance's power and stature. In their style the musicians form a very close partnership, expressing themselves like one voice through two instruments. The alap, which runs for nearly forty minutes, stays quiet, concentrated and inward, as singer and instrumentalist take turns to undertake their slow, note-by-note exploration. As the music develops they turn a lengthy focus on to three-note descending phrases of a tone followed by a minor third. But at this stage there is no active decoration or technical elaboration, instead a resourceful variety of vocal timbres and overtone mixes various vowel sounds, for instance.

It's well over half an hour before they reach the highest pitches, from which they descend only at the very end to link straight into the slow, firmly rhythmic jor section. A phrase consisting of three emphatic repetitions of the same note moves the jor along and this will turn out to be derived from the melody of the first bandish. For the first twelve minutes or so the character remains purely melodic, but once the music becomes more active the performers' technical skills quickly start to kick in, the pace increasing almost imperceptibly but steadily. The music continues to show a virtuoso treatment of timbre, some of the vocal forays appearing to imitate the sounds of instruments, and eventually rhythm, winding down wistfully at the end.

The first bandish is slow, although Pravin Arya's pakhawaj whizzes away as soon as he gets the chance, and spotlights the three repeated notes in its main melodic phrase, which voice and veena present in unison. The rhythmic cycle is chautal, twelve beats in a pattern of 4+4+4+2+2. Later on the voice and veena get caught up in the rhythmic action, a sturdy driving pulse full of cross-rhythms and syncopations. When the second bandish links straight on, there is a dramatic and thrilling lift in pace and excitement as the rhythm switches into the twice-five-beat cycle of sultal, a new vigorous melodic phrase takes over, and the improvisations turn highly ornamented.

Notes: John Ball


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