Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha are Indiaâ€™s leading exponents of the Dhrupad style of Indian classical music, and are the most active young performers in that style in Indian and international circuits. Born in Ujjain in Central India, both were initiated into music by their parents. They received conventional university educations while also studying music under the renowned Dhrupad vocalist Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar, and also with the late Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar (the distinguished performer of Rudra Veena) at the Dhrupad Kendra in Bhopal under Guru Shishya Parampara . The Gundecha Brothers have sung Hindi poetry by Tulsidas, Kabir, Padmakar, and Nirala in the Dhrupad style and have recorded about 25 cassettes and CDs for H.M.V., Music Today, Sundaram Records, Rhythm House, Senseworldmusic-UK, IPPNW Concerts Berlin, Navras, and AudioRec. They have performed on many television channels in India, and in broadcasts on British, U.S., German, French, Japan and Australian radio. In addition to being an integral part of all of Indiaâ€™s prestigious music festivals, the Gundechas have performed along with Dhrupad Workshops at many important international festivals and institutions in USA, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, U.K., Norway, U.A.E, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Thailand, Seychelles and Taiwan etc. . They received the Madhya Pradesh Government Scholarship from 1981 to 1985, the National Fellowship from 1987 to 1989, the Ustad Allauddin Khan Fellowship in 1993, the Sanskriti Award in 1994, the Kumar Gandharva Award from the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1998, and the Dagar Gharana Award from the Mewar Foundation in 2001. At present the Gundechas are teaching in Dhrupad Institute , Bhopal (founded by themselves)to many indian and international students. For more information on the Gundecha Brothers and Dhrupad Music, go to www.dhrupad.org
Akhilesh Gundecha studied the Pakhawaj with Pandit Shrikant Mishra and Raja Chhatrapati Singh JuDeo. He has graduate degrees in music and in law, and has also received scholarships from the Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet Academy in Bhopal and from the government of India. He has accompanied such Dhrupad masters as Ustad Z. F. Dagar, Ustad Fahimuddin Dagar, Pandit Siyaram Tiwari, Shrimati Asghari Bai, Dr. Ritwik Sanyal, and Bahauddin Dagar. He has also played solo recitals in the Tansen Festival in Gwalior, the Haridas Sangeet Samaroh in Mumbai, the Dhrupad Samaroh in Bhopal, and many other festivals. He has toured about 20 countries and performs regularly on radio and television in India.
At their most venturesome, the brothers voices seemed more supple and versatile than any string instrument.
The two singers slowly and painstakingly improvise around the Raga's tonic, dipping below it in long, resonant tones and then creeping above it in the same manner , usually making their way across a two and a half octave range. Eventually the tones shorten into shimmering staccato barrages that grow increasingly intense and an instrumental sounding , suggesting rapidly plucked Sitar notes.
The Reader's Guide Chicago
Die beiden vokalisten demonstriertenâ€¦.hier (im Alap) eine perfekte kombination von feingefuhl und energie.
Morgen Post, Berlin
They are so proficient in it that one can not find loose ends or any thing slipshod in their expositions of Dhrupad.
The Hindu New Delhi
Effortless on every note, whether high or low ,bright and clear in Meend, exquisite in texture whose variations they controlled consciously and an appealing enunciation brought the program to an unexpected level of quality....... Yes !Dhrupad is safe and The Dagarvani is all to set to enter the 21st century.....
The Times of India, New Delhi
The understanding between the two brothers is uncanny.
The Dhrupad singing of the Gundecha Brothers was like wind that slowly unwound a feeling that seized the artists and audience alike.
Indian Express, Madras
Tuneful to the core impeccable in rhythm and the scores well divided, they revealed immense musical imagination and refinement.
The Statesman, Calcutta
They have a quite happy presence on stage and their music is shorn of those qualities of aggressive gimmicky showmanship which has brought this otherwise fine form of Hindustani music in to disrepute.
Currently the hottest duo in Dhrupad singing in the country.
The Illustrated Weekly, Bombay
Some Important International Concerts
Festival of India in Germany-1992
Indo Norwegian Society Festival-1992
Asian Art Festival, Hongkong-1992
India International Music Festival,Bombay -1993
Spic-Macay National Convention,Norfolk USA-1994
Detroit Institute of Art, USA-1994
Western Music Conservatory, Winterthur, Switzerland-1994
Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA-1995
The Walter Art Gallery, Baltimore, USA-1995
House of World Culture, Berlin, Germany-1996
Theater De La Ville, Paris, France-1996
Navaras, London, U.K.-1996
Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.-1998
Flanderen Festival, Belgium-1998
Gandhar, Abu Dhabi, UAE-1998
Ali Akbar College of Music, Basel, Switzerland-1998
USA Tour -1999
Bangladesh Tour- 2000
Art Festival- Singapore 2000
Sacred Voices Millennium Music Village-UK 2000
Cite de la music, Paris France- 2003
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels Belgium- 2003
Tokyo summer festival, Japan 2003
Workshop in University of Bologna, Italy- 2003
Rencontres Internationales de musique m??le du thoronet, France-2003
Dhrupad is the most ancient style of Hindustani classical music that has survived until today in its original form. The Dhrupad tradition is a major heritage of Indian culture.
The nature of Dhrupad music is spiritual. Seeking not to entertain, but to induce feelings of peace and contemplation in the listener. The word Dhrupad is derived from DHRUVA the steadfast evening star that moves through our galaxy and PADA meaning poetry. It is a form of devotional music that traces its origin to the ancient text of Sam Veda. The SAM VEDA was chanted with the help of melody and rhythm called Samgana. Gradually this developed into other vocal style called 'Chhanda' and 'Prabandha' with introduction of verse and meter. The fusion of these two elements led to the emergence of Dhrupad.
By the eleventh Century Dhrupad music had crystallised into a perfect form which has retained its original structure and purity through to the present day. One significant characteristic of Dhrupad is the emphasis on maintaining purity of the Ragas and the Swaras. According to some accounts, Dhrupad was sung in the temples, the singer facing the divinity. From this early chanting, Dhrupad evolved into a sophisticated classical form of music.
The language of Dhrupad changed from Sanskrit Brij Bhasha some time between the 12th and the 16th century. About six centuries ago, Dhrupad came to be patronized by the royal courts and its complex rendering became intended for highly sophisticated royal audiences. The compositions became more secular. Some were written in praise of the emperors; others elaborated on music itself. However the pristine nature of Dhrupad survived and even today we hear this majestic form of music performed like it was more that 500 years ago in the royal courts of the emperors and kings of India.
A note on Dhrupad program by Dr. Brian Q. Silver
The classical music of Indian subcontinent is divided in to two main traditions : the northern , known generally as Hindustani, and southern , known generally as Karnataka. The Hindustani prevails not only in northern and central India, but in Pakistan and Bangladesh as well. The vocal Music is the heart of the Indian classical tradition. The Gundecha Brothers present vocal music known as Dhrupad, the oldest and most profound form of classical Hindustani vocal music. Dhrupad developed in India in medieval times, and we have examples of distinct compositions attributed to the legendary Tan Sen (or Tansen) , who both as a player of BEEN and a vocalist was one of the nine jewels of the royal court of the great mughal emperor Akbar. Dhrupad was a dominant form of vocal music in northern India until the eighteenth century, when it was gradually overtaken by the lighter ,more florid vocal style as KHAYAL (literally, imagination). A customary full performance of Dhrupad is in two parts- the Alap , an extended melodic improvisation that explores the mood of Raga, and the Dhrupad or Dhamar - a composition set to distinct poetic text with Pakhawaj accompaniment. The Alap itself goes through three states known as Vilambit, Madhya and Drut. The Vilambit Alap explores the distinctive melodic features of the Raga without recourse to rhythm. The customary vocal range of Dhrupad is two to two -and -a -half octaves, and the alap begins with tonic (do or C in western term) of the middle octave as its center. The vocalists sing in extended , improvised
passages and generally begin by moving downward ,note by note, exploring the lowest octave, sometimes finally reaching a distinctly dramatic point by touching the deep tonic of that octave. Although there no lyrics to this singing , certain syllables- ri, na,,ra num, te,ta,ra,na - are used to articulate the melody. After exploring the lowest octave .the singers move up into the middle octave- again singing in alternate improvisations that set new progressively higher watermarks - ultimate reaching another dramatic stage by ascending to the tonic of the highest octave. This gradual, progressive ascent is what is most dramatic about the Dhrupad alap, and the longer the vocalist can sustain their creativity in keeping the listeners engaged, the more liberating the resolution in reaching the highest octave. Next come the Madhya(Literally Middle) Alap in which there is the introduction of slow, regular pulse. This section is the vocal counterpart to the Jor in instrumental music. Using the same syllables in singing the notes of the Raga, the brothers alternates in their improvisation by traversing- now with a rhythmic component- some what the same range covered earlier , though usually concentrating on the central octave. The notes come frequently added with the power of gradually accelerating rhythm. At some point in Madhya Alap , the double pulse burst into a quadruple pattern, and Drut Alap begins,this section is the vocal equivalent of Jhala in Instrumental Music. Here, the rhythmic element comes to dominate the melody with increasingly complex phrases,ornamentation (including distinctive ,heavy oscillations called Gamakas), and rhythmic patterns that contrast with the elegant calm and simplicity of beginning Alap. The conclusion of DRUT Alap is usually marked by a gliding , downward slide through the entire middle octave, and ends on the same tonic around which the improvisation began. Throughout the development of Alap , a periodic punctuation device, the Mohra, separates the improvisatory phrases. In the simple Alap , such a device anticipates the coming rhythm where as in the Madhya and Drut it serves as a kind of brake, occasionally slowing the increasing rhythmic momentum. The Performance of the Raga concludes with the song, set with Pakhawaj accompaniment to one of the distinctive Dhrupad Talas; a song in a ten-or twelve- beat called dhrupad , while the song in the fourteen beats Dhamar Tala is known eponymousely as a Dhamar. The performers consists of a straight forward statement of the fixed song composition , which is traditional and may sometimes extremely old dating to the time of Tansen. The song itself consists two to four parts based on the poetic text , and once this parts have been stated in their fixed form , the singers engage in a improvisatory process known as a BOL-BAANT, in which the word are used in increasingly complex and richly syncopated rhythmic patterns (which play against the powerful cross-rhythms of the Pakhawaj) to conclude the performance of the Raga.
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2. Dhrupad in Choutal - Saghan Ban Chhayo