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In the Realm of “Yaman”

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The Economic Times, June 19, 1988

It was Yaman, Yaman, all the way for three hours at the Tata Theatre in Bombay on June 1. It was a concert which featured four vocalists, who were, broadly speaking, representative of three generations of performing artists.

The seniormost and also the most celebrated in the team was Pandit K. G. Ginde, the doughty musicologist and scholar-musician; Sharad Sathe, the middle-aged exponent of the tradition-bound Gwalior gharana; Padma Talwalkar, who now ranks among the top-notchers from the younger category; and Archana Kanhere, the youngest of them all, who specialises in Marathi natya sangeet, besides being a classical artistie in her own right.

The concert was unusual in many ways. It was innovative in point of its format, content and approach. It was designed to show some of the numerous possibilities of expression and form of the basic raga, Yaman. The evening melody was presented, in a chronological order, in the styles in which Hindustani music has as evolved through the centuries. Sequentially, the expositions of drupad and dhamar genres came from Pandit Ginde.

Padma Talwalkar, coming next, sang a vilambit bandish in khayal, followed by two drut bandishes. Sharad Sathe, who then followed, treated the large audience with a khayalnuma (a style which has almost gone out of fashion) in vilambit, which had touches of Shudh (or komal) madhyam in its progressions, which made it sound like Yaman-Kalyan. He then reeled off two fast-paced tarana bandishes and rounded off with a tappa number set to Pushto taal, both of which are also no longer in vogue in concert halls.

Archana Kanhere then rendered three Marathi natya geets, all popular hits from classic plays like “Swayamwar” and “Manapaman”, which have been immortalized by Bal Gandharva, whose birth centenary, incidentally, is being observed this year.

Another interesting item which provided the tail-piece to the programme was a choral performance which lent a sublime note to the proceedings. The group, comprising 15 young male and female singers, offered a song in soulful tones. The item was composed and conducted by Pandit Dinkar Kaikini, also eminent scholar-musician and composer and a worthy gurubhai of Pandit Ginde.

Opening the proceedings, Pandit Ginde said that “Yaman” was possibly one raga which had a versatile character that enabled it to lead itself to any form of singing. Equally unexpectionable were his observations about the character of the dhrupad style, which gae equal emphasis on swara and sahitya. But the layakari had to be straight, with no scope for ornamentation in the genre as a whole.

Pandit Ginde explained how the emergence of khayal, that succeeded dhrupad, catered to the changing tastes and moods of the people. The unsuspected beauties, in their kaleidoscopic variety, could be revealed to the delight of the listeners by means of embellishments which were not permitted in dhrupad and dhamar.

Opinions may, however, differ over Pandit Ginde’s observation that there is no difference between Yaman and Yaman-Kalyan. He was inclined to treat the use of shudh (or komal) madhyam as vivadi swara. But then doesn’t the character or rakti-guna of Yaman undergo a significant change? It does, as many hardboiled, sensitive rasikas would vehemently say.

Praise is also due to the superb support that came from several accompanists, both veterans and youngsters. They included Arjun Shejwal (pakhavaj), Omkar Gulvady (tabla), Anant Kunte (sarangi) and Baban Manjrekar (harmonium).


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