An invaluable treatise on Dhrupad

An invaluable treatise on Dhrupad

By FIROZ BAKHT AHMED | | 19 September, 2015
Wasifuddin Dagar.
Dagars and Dhrupad: Divine Legacy
Humra Quraishi
Niyogi Books
Pages: 156
Price: Rs 1,500
 
“Music is an integral part of living beings and it also has its role in the celestial movements of the universe through sound and rhythm.”
— Wasifuddin Dagar 
The book Dagars and Dhrupad: Divine Legacy renders Dhrupad as one of the oldest and most powerful streams that contributed to Hindustani Classical Music. The book is divided into various chapters, titled What is Dhrupad?, Conversing with the Dagar Brothers, Wasifuddin Dagar Writes et al and thus, gives glimpses of the rich heritage of one of the most soulful forms of music that has enthralled audiences the world over. 
In the introduction, Quraishi aptly states that in today’s scenario, Wasifuddin is the Pole Star of Dhrupad as the word Dhrupad is derived from Dhruv (Pole Star). However, one could perhaps, differ with her thesis that none can equal the pristine perfection, mesmeric impact and expertise of his father Faiyazuddin and 
uncle Nasiruddin. 
Humra has delved deep into the nomenclature Dhrupad. Dhrupad (from the Sanskrit phrase Dhruva Pada, “fixed words,” or “refrain”) is a North Indian vocal and instrumental musical genre and one of the oldest documented South Asian mediums of performance according to Zia Mohiuddin Dagar. The modern Dhrupad probably descends from a form (Dhruva) mentioned in the Nātyashāstra that developed in the Gwalior region and in all probability, became rather popular in the sixteenth century.  
Wasifuddin, the twentieth in this generation of venerated artists though having started Dagarvani, however, is handicapped by the fact that unlike his father who had an able and equally gifted companion in his uncle, he is all alone, save the talented artist Ritwik Sanyal of Benaras. Rightly so, in the chapter, titled, Carrying on the Legacy, Wasif states, “My father and uncle were not just my gurus but it was as though they had placed an umbrella of protection around me.” 
Although, there have been a plethora of beautifully brought out books on Indian Classical Music Greats, yet the kind of intensity, found in this riveting research by Humra reflects her painstaking effort in bringing out a collection of anecdotes of the Dagars starting from Imam Khan (Baba Gopal Das) to Behram Khan, Ziauddin, Nasiruddin, Rahimuddin, Imamuddin, Husainuddin, Riyazuddin, Mohiuddin, Sayeeduddin, Zahiruddin, Fahimuddin, Faiyazuddin, Nafeesuddin, and Aneesuddin 
to Wasifuddin. 
As a matter of fact, this book is not only a milestone in putting together the best of Dhrupad, but can be considered a Collector’s item for all connoisseurs and scholars of this inimitable musical tradition. Apart from the Dagars, this work also encapsulates other Dhrupad stalwarts like — Swami Hari Das, Baba Allami, Gopal Nayak, Baiju Bawra, Nayak Bakshu and Mian Tansen.  
Dhrupad terms like, Alap (notes and meter), Uchcharan Shastra (pronunciation rules), Guru-Shishya Parampara (teacher-student conglomerate), Riyaz (practice), Laya (tempo), Sadhana (dedication and devotion), Pada (word/ phrase), Raga (metric rendition) and Pakhawaj (single barrel percussion drum) besides many others, have been intricately elaborated, in addition to the norm of the Dhrupad tradition being passed on from one generation to the other. Dhrupad, to this family, is like one’s mother tongue that comes innately naturally.  
Humra has also attempted to explain the finer points of this genre of music to the new generation commencing with the Alap, an extended melodic improvisation without lyrics or rhythmic accompaniment reflecting the mood and personality of the raga. The Alap has slow, medium, fast Laya phases referred as Vilambit, Madhya and Dhrut. With a customary vocal range of two and a half octaves, the Alap usually begins with the tonic of the middle octave at its center. 
Heartwarming are two vintage pictures on page 8 where the Dagar Saptak (The Seven Dagars — Fariduddin, Zahiruddin, Fahimuddin, Aminuddin, Mohiuddin, Faiyazuddin and Saeeduddin) are seen performing at the Marble Palace, Kolkata. Then on page 56, there is a rare photograph dating back to India’s 25th Independence Day celebrations in 1972 showcasing the Jugalbandi of Zahiruddin and Faiyazuddin with Mehmooda and Sahira on the Tanpura. It also pictures young Wasif beside his mother.  
A most interesting chapter is on the Dagar disciples, in which Laurence Bastit, a Professor of French at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and an ardent admirer of the Dagar family recalls, “A friend took me along to a Dagar concert and that music had a certain affect on me...today I feel I’m part of this family, as though I have a past life-connection 
with them.”
Finally, it would be most unfair, if Begum Mehmooda Dagar, is at long last not brought to the fore. Her selfless sacrifices enabled the Dagars to bloom and to whom Humra has touchingly dedicated this book to.
 
The author is a commentator on social, educational and cultural issues and the grandnephew of Maulana Abul 
Kalam Azad.
 

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