This society is dedicated to the promotion of Indian music, art & culture.
- To promote the country’s heritage music.
- To aid the development of heritage art through Indian classical music and culture.
- To organize programs and events related to Indian classical music traditions like Dhrupad and Khayal.
- To open a research center.
- To provide a platform for performing these arts for talented but economically-constrained students.
- To raise awareness generally about Indian classical music, art and culture.
- To promote and popularize Indian classical music traditions like Dhrupad (the oldest and foremost form of both instrumental and vocal music).
- To provide yeoman service to Indian classical music.
- To provide the upcoming generations with access to traditional forms of knowledge in the field of art and culture.
- To provide financial assistance to talented music students.
- To organize Indian classical music events abroad.
- To undertake social activities for the betterment of the weaker sections of society as well as for the victims of natural calamities.
A short introduction to Dhrupad music
Dhrupad singing evolved from the singing of prabandhas in the medieval period, and like the writings of the bhakti saints of the time, it is suffused with a mystical devotion to God. It later received the patronage of the Mughal court, and its survival to the present day owes much to the support of its various royal patrons. Despite a decline in its popularity over the last two centuries, Dhrupad is still considered to be the most respected of all Indian classical musical forms, and its treatment of ragas is understood to be the ideal.
A Dhrupad performance starts with the alap, which, in its initial stage, is a slow and elaborate delineation of the raga using free flowing melodic patterns. Usually starting with the sā of the middle octave, the alap pattern gradually descends to the lower octave, and then returns to the middle octave before rising to the highest register in a gradual succession of melodic patterns. A final return to the middle octave sā concludes the first part of the alap. In uttaranga pradhan ragas like Bahar or Adana, the alap is done mainly in the higher register. The singing of a Sanskrit shloka, which is set to the same kind of free flowing melodic patterns, sometimes serves as a prelude to the alap.
In this methodical note-by-note elaboration, the melodic patterns at any stage seem to be focused on some individual note or resting point of the raga. The patterns take up the different facets of the raga one by one, and their gradual succession creates the impression of the raga slowly unfolding itself. In some ragas with avakra roop, like Shankara or Hem Kalyan, this sort of note-by-note elaboration cannot be done. The alapemploys variations of traditional melodic patterns that the musician has to assimilate through years of training and practice. It is essentially exploratory and improvisational, and through it the musician explores the relationship between the notes, their mutual consonances, and all the melodic variations that are possible within the framework of the raga.
A Dhrupad alap is syllabic, because it employs the syllables ā, ra, na, nā, nūm, na, te, ta, ra, na, na … which are abstractions of the mantric phrase Om antaran tvam, taran taaran tvam, anant Hari Narayan Om, the words having been broken down to their syllables to facilitate melodic improvisation. The syllabic nature of the music actually adds to the melodic possibilities, because shifting or changing the syllable can alter the character of any melodic phrase. As the use of the syllables in Hari Narayan Om suggests, Dhrupad is, in its essence, a spiritual pursuit. It can be seen to be a form of meditation in which nada is used to attain liberation or the realisation of Brahma. The Dhrupad alap, with its succession of free flowing patterns, produces a deeply meditative atmosphere, and although the rasas of karuna, shringar, adbhut, and, at a later stage, even veer make an appearance, the overriding predominance is tat of bhakti. The great masters of the Dhrupad tradition, Ustads Zakiruddin Khan, Allabande Khan, and Nasiruddin Khan, were especially renowned for their serene and meditative alap singing.
Once the elaboration of the raga through free flowing patterns is completed, the alap enters a phase in which the patterns are set to a rhythmic pulse, with a moderate tempo in the beginning, which is increased in stages later. In this portion, the presence of a rhythmic pulse combines with the syllabic character of the music, and alters the nature of the melodic patterns. This enables a melodic elaboration different form the one achieved with free flowing patterns. The patterns in the later part of this stage are embellished with ghamaks.
The alap is followed by a composition sung to pakhwaj accompaniment. The talas that commonly occur here are the choutaal, jhaptaal, sultaal and dhamar taal. Although the word Dhrupad refers to the composition (“Dhrupad” means a composition that is immutable), there is a commonality between the alap and the composition since they both employ the same kind of melodic patterns. The techniques, such as meend, ghamak, lahak, kampit, andolit, etc. that occur in the alap patterns, are actually used by Dhrupad musicians of the Dagar tradition. The composition, with its four parts sthayi, antara, abhog andsanchari, summarizes everything that preceded it and brings the exposition of the raga to an end.
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