Indian Music Today: Dhrupad, Dhamar, Khayal, Thumri
By MOHAN D. NADKARNI
The Bombay Sentinel, January 10, 1956
ALTHOUGH the origin and sources of Indian music are not positively known, the tradition of contemporary Hindustani music is traced back to the age of dhrupad, which came into vogue during the reign of Akbar.
Haridas Swami, Dagar Tansen, Nayak Gopal and Nayak Baiju were the earliest exponents of this form of musical expression.
This style is noted for its rhythm purity of form and coherence of structure. Dhamar is also more or less a contemporaneous style, with a stronger rhythmic element in it.
The salient features of the raga in which drupad and dhamar are sung, are first fully brought out by ‘alap’ (or ‘nometome’ in musical parlance.)
Dhrupad is marked by an element of solemnity and discipline, while a dhamar song may carry a distinctively romantic appeal, as it generally contains vivid descriptions of “ras-leelas” of the ever-youthful Krishna.
Latterly, stalwarts like Allabande Khan and Nasiruddin Khan handed down the tradition of dhrupad and dhamar to their successors, Rahimuddin Khan Dagar, son of Allabande Khan is one of them.
RAHIMUDDIN hails from Udaipur and he has ably modelied his melody in the old classical pattern of his forbears.
With the continuing popularity of khayal and thumari,dhrupad and dhamar styles are gradually dying out, and Rahimuddin is one of the very few vocalists who can give us a glimpse into the ancient music of the Hindus.
He is settled in Delhi and often broadcasts from AIR.
CHIDANAND DATTATRAYA NAGARKAR inherits his legacy of musical talent from his father, who had a flair for devotional music and stage-acting.
The home of the Nagarkar’s was also a rendezvous of musical celebrities like the late Faiyaz Khan.
Those were the days when normal academic education was considered to be the only right type of career for children of the sophisticated families, and Nagarkar’s father – a high official at Bangalore – naturally wanted his son to grow after the fashion of ideal graduates!
As for the son, music coursed through his blood, and he longed for a life in the concert-hall. The discerning father too realized the futility of forcing his young son into channels that did not interest him.
Nagarkar first learnt music from Govind Vithal Mane, and later on, he continued his higher studies in the Marris College of Hindustani Music, Lucknow.
Pandit Ratanjankar, head of the college and one of greatest. Teachers of Hindustani Music, discovered in his pupil all the makings of a promising musician, and gave him the full benefit of his modern and scientific method of instruction in all the well-knownforms of classical composition, viz., dhrupad dhamar, Khayal and Thumri.
Nagarkar is an artiste with a fine sense for the spectacular, and from the assertive dignity of his manner comes a cultured but aesthetic representation of his art.
He has a massive mode of expression – often reminiscent of Faiyaz Khan – which happily accords with his deep and manly voice. Yet his rendering in melodious and emotional.
Nagarkar develops his alap and vilambit Khayal with a refined sense of design and a imagination. His dhamar is a specimen of rhythmic elegance.
A rare fluency and melodic grace are reflected in his boltaan and taan which he brings forth in ever-changing patterns particularly in his drut Khayal and tappa.
His Thumri an intense emotional appeal.
A bold experimenter and composer, Nagarkar has to his credit many musical pieces like “Kaishiki Ranjani” and “Ambika Sarang” very much comparable to our traditional ragas.
The popularity of the new ventures is a tribute to his creative inspiration.
A versatile instrumentalist, he is equally at ease with the tabla and the harmonium.
Cricket, dancing and astrology are among his varied interests outside his art.
Impetuous and temperamental, he is very talkative and wins his friends by the case of his conversation.
Musician, composer, sportsman and scholar, Nagarkar bids fair to achieve the collective ambitions of many if his fellow professionals.
He has both competence and confidence, and already at 36, he is Principal of one of the most reputed music colleges in Bombay.
SHIVKUMAR SHUKLA was born in 1918 and had his training under Baburao Gokhle, Onkarnath and Aman Ali Khan.
Shivkumar has developed a distinctive technique of his own. There is a rhythmic element in his very mode of expression.
With characteristic gentleness he develops his melody by means of short alap and varied modulation replete with subtle touches of graces.
What is particularly pleasing is the delicacy of manner in which he weaves many a sequence of bol-taan or Sargam into his basic theme.
His asthai and antara are followed by a rich variety of gamak and taan.
Besides Hindustani melodies, Shivkumar has popularized southern ragas like “Hamsadhwani”.
Shivkumar’s handsome personality lends greater charm to his music. He is in charge to his music. He is in charge of the Department of music at the M.S. University’s college at Baroda.
Broadly speaking Thumri represents the latest phase of the evolution of Hindustani music, and is a relatively modern development.
It originated from the eastern region of Uttar Pradesh and has evolved in two different traditions of Lucknow and Banaras.
Thumari, unlike khayal is distinctly erotic in its content, and emotionally very much akin to some of our popular modes of today. And that accounts for its popularity.
Thumari has been aptly described as the “expression of the singer’s soul and temperament.” The excellence of thumari singing lies in its artistic and imaginative rendering.
Bhaiya Ganpat Rao and Maujuddin Khan are acknowledged as the foremost exponents of thumari of the last century.
SIDDHESHWARI BAI, who hails from Benares, is an imaginative musician brought up in the best tradition of Thumri.
She learnt music from such masters as Shivaji Maharaj and Bade Ramdasji.
Her voice has a plenty of volume and sge renders her thumri in the “Purab Ang” (Benares style) with remarkable poise and depth.
She also had a wide repertoire of dadra and several folk varieties which she sings with emotion and delightful charm.