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Spiritual Meditations ( 27 Aug 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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'Dhrupad has a spiritual and meditative base'

By Humra Quraishi

Jul 23, 2010

Wasifuddin Dagar , president of the Dhrupad Society, represents the 20th generation of a family that has nurtured the dhrupad tradition in music. His forefathers were court musicians, dating back to the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar. Dagar, 42, spoke to Humra Quraishi:

Your father Faiyazuddin Dagar and his brother Zahiruddin Dagar always performed together. But you seem to prefer singing solo. Why?

After my father's death at the age of 57, i began performing with my uncle Zahiruddin sahib, who was also my guru and mentor. After his sudden death, i found that void too painful. So i decided to go solo. In fact, there is this deep bonding between any jugalbandi artists that is hard to describe. When i took my father's place as his jugalbandi partner, Zahiruddin sahib would often think that Faiyazuddin was still around. Though i would be sitting next to him, he would call out Faiyaz. Such is the connectivity between jugalbandi artists. But the jugalbandi tradition is still on. My two younger, Pune-based cousins, Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin Dagar, perform as a jugalbandi pair.

It is said dhrupad is one of those art forms that impacts your very lifestyle. What's your view?

Yes, it's one of those classical art forms which has a spiritual and meditative base. So it's not enough to spend a minimum of 10 to15 years in trying to master it. Your lifestyle has to match that commitment. My father and uncle did not touch alcohol and kept themselves more or less away from worldly ways. For them it was total commitment and passion for dhrupad. It's the same for me.

We believe that it's Allah who is the Provider, who bestows on you your daily bread. In our rendering there's pulse for rhythm, pitch for 'swar' and pause for silence. Like mere words do not and cannot make a speech so just about any sort of music cannot reach or touch us. Our rendering starts with the tanpura in the background and then the alaap.

In the green room, the sound of the tanpura sets the raga and we can delve into that pure sound of the alaap for hours at a stretch, but sometimes even wrap it up in a few minutes depending on that particular moment. We can lose sense of time and space while singing and so do some listeners. It cannot be done at will, it happens only through His Grace and that is why we pray to Him to give us a good mood.

Has the economic recession affected the concert circuit?

Yes. As of now dhrupad concerts are only 2 per cent of the total number of concerts in the country, though abroad, particularly in France and in the US, we give more shows. And what surprises me is that strangely here in our country there is far more space given to foreign pop stars than classical artists. And again, what's dismaying is that even in our music shops there's only a small corner for classical music. The ministry of culture should take the classical and traditional forms further, not to the same set audience but to newer audiences.

Source: Times of India, Delhi