Four Songs : my Choice 10

Here are some more songs of my choice and liking. A few gems from my favourite playlist. All the vocalists are renowned names. Firoz Dastur (1919–2008) was a well known, and probably the most successful, Hindustani classical singer from the Parsi community.

Firoz Dastur – Thumri Kafi – Bawre Dam De Gayo Kanha :  Download

Bhimsen Joshi – Thumri Tilang – Kahe Ko Neha Lagaye :  Download

Pandit Jasraj – Bhajan – Jhulat De :  Download

Rashid Khan – Yaman – Aao Balama :  Download

.. more Songs of my Choice »


Dhrupad and Haveli Sangeet

Dhrupad and Khayal are the two forms of classical singing that exist today in North India. Dhrupad, the older form, enjoyed wide popularity till the 17th or early 18th century, after which it gradually declined with the emergence of Khayal, a more entertaining style. The nature of Dhrupad music is spiritual, seeking not to entertain, but to induce feelings of peace and spirituality in the listener. The word Dhrupad is derived from Dhruva, the steadfast evening star that moves through the galaxy, and Pada meaning poetry. It is a form of devotional music that traces its origin to the ancient text of Samveda. Though a highly developed classical art with elaborate aesthetics, it is also primarily a form of worship, in which offerings are made to the divine through sound or Nada.

Although Dhrupad originated in the chanting of Vedic hymns and Mantras, it gradually evolved into an independent classical form of music. Dhrupad was initially sung only in the temples, the singer facing the Lord. From this early chanting, Dhrupad evolved into a sophisticated classical form of music. One significant characteristic of Dhrupad is the emphasis on maintaining purity of the Raga. The language of Dhrupad changed from Sanskrit to Brij Bhasha some time between the 12th and the 16th century. Until India‘s independence, Dhrupad had mainly thrived under the patronage of Mughal and Rajput kings and its complex rendering became intended for 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 than 500 years ago in the royal courts of the emperors and kings of India.

Moinuddin & Aminuddin Dagar – Dhrupad in Bageshri :  Download

Gundecha Brothers – Dhrupad in Asavari :  Download

The decline of Dhrupad during the last two centuries coincides with a shift in Indian classical music, when it was accepted that music must primarily entertain, with many of its practitioners switching over to the new form, the Khayal, which progressively increased in popularity and attracted greater patronage. Dhrupad however remained the favoured style in a few imperial courts, mainly in Rajasthan and Bihar, where some Dhrupad Gharanas continued till the late 1940’s, when these states were assimilated into the Indian republic. But the sophistication of the musical concepts underlying Dhrupad, and its objective of creating a music that uplifts, but does not necessarily entertain, and that embodies the essence of Indian spiritual thought, has found for it a growing acceptance and admiration in the West. This has made Dhrupad singing, finally a more viable profession for its few remaining practitioners.

Bidur Mallik – Dhrupad in Bhairav :  Download

Siyaram Tiwari – Dhrupad in Darbari :  Download

Dhrupad is performed in two parts – Alap and Bandish. In Alap, the singer uses syllables taken from Sanskrit Mantra which add texture to the notes. The Raga is slowly and methodically developed in a meditative mode. The speed of Alap increases with the use of an accelerating rhythmic pulse that builds to a point, where the melodic patterns literally dance in space. The Bandish is a short poem accompanied by the Pakhawaj (a double-headed horizontal drum). The poem is sung using melodic and rhythmic improvisations. The intricate patterns and improvisations woven by the Pakhawaj player and the singer create a dialogue often playing against or complimenting one another.

Haveli Sangeet is temple music practiced by the Vaishnavites of Nathdwara in Rajasthan. Nathdwara is the main seat of the Vaishnava devotional cult which created a rich historical tradition of temple-based music. ‘Haveli‘ here is referred to a palace that the deity chooses to live in. In comparison to Dhrupad, Haveli Sangeet, as it is known in Rajasthan and Gujarat, claimed superior resilience as it was believed that Lord Krishna himself was the very audience for its performances. In this music practice, the very essence of the song revolves around Krishna Bhakti and is sung in the form of Kirtans, Bhajans and Bhava Nritya. Known to incorporate a fusion of classical and folk music, the dominant style of singing is still Dhrupad and Dhamar. The temples of Radha Vallabh at Vrindaban, Krishna at Nandgaon, Shri Radha Rani at Barsana, and Sri Nathji at Nathdwara are all known to reverberate with Haveli Sangeet.

Pandit Jasraj – Haveli Sangeet – Gokul Mein Bajat :  Download

Rattan Mohan Sharma – Haveli Sangeet – Jago Krishna :  Download

Haveli Sangeet is almost extinct. It is known to be more vulnerable than classical Dhrupad, mainly due to the audience’s lack of understanding it. While an ‘art music‘ audience can recognize Dhrupad as well as Haveli Sangeet as more sophisticated musical genres, the ordinary listener would merely consider Haveli Sangeet to be devotional songs like Bhajans.


Four Most Wanted Songs

Blogging platforms like Blogger/Blogspot and WordPress, nowadays, have more to offer to their users than a non-techie person like me can ever take. Young bloggers, however make full use of the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools, easily available all over the web, plus the in-house statistics these sites provide you. Google analytics is a revelation in itself, and the stats offered by WordPress cannot be undermined either. More often than not, a novice like me tends to get lost in the maze of stat figures. However, on venturing out to know more about my visitors I could easily find the ‘search words‘ they entered, that led them to my blogs. Here, I am posting four songs that were ‘googled‘ and ‘yahooed‘ the most, during the past week.

Pandit Jasraj – Bhimpalasi – Om Namo Bhagwate :  (Download)

Shobha Gurtu – Chhoti Si Umar Parnai O Babasa :  (Download)

M S Subbulakshmi – Bhaj Govindam :  (Download)

Nirmala Devi – Pahadi – Sawan Ka Nazara Hai :  (Download)

I was actually surprised to find Nirmala Devi among the top ‘search words‘ as she was not a very accomplished artist of her time. For those who do not know this, she is film actor Govinda‘s mother (died 1996). She also sang along with Lakshmi Shankar in a few acclaimed songs.

Watch out for more ‘Most Wanted Songs‘ in future posts.


Ja Kaga Ja : Go Crow Go

In India, the common house crow (kaga or kagwa in hindi) is a widespread resident, except in high altitudes and dense forests. It is wholly dependent on human habitation for it’s survival. This highly vocal bird is seemingly unafraid of humans. Aggressive, it will attack and chase off any large bird of prey. Strangely, the crow has been given a place of pride in our classical music. For reasons unknown it has played the role of a lover’s messenger (“Ja Kaga Ja“), which in many a lyrical khayals, is even promised a ‘gold plated beak’ in return of favours rendered (“Ab Ke Sawan Ghar Aaja“). Pigeons, the otherwise commonly known messenger birds, have been given a back seat here.

Vilayat Hussain Khan – Raga Bageshri Bahar :  (Download)

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Raga Desi :  (Download)

Begum Akhtar – Raga Pahadi :  (Download)

Pandit Jasraj – Raga Bilaskhani Todi :  (Download)

Shruti Sadolikar – Raga Desi :  (Download)

Parween Sultana – Raga Pahadi :  (Download)

Almost all vocalists have pleaded with this glossy black bird to pass on a message, in all Ragas possible, Raga Desi, Bageshri and Pahadi being the more common ones, although other Ragas are not being discounted.

Comments are welcome.


Pandit Jasraj : Variations of Todi

Raga Todi is a morning raga that expresses both heroic and devotional moods. It is also called ‘Miyan ki Todi‘ which is now, the most important raga of the Todi family and sometimes also referred to as ‘Shuddh Todi‘. It is a believed that Miyan Tansen had created this raga. Todi is a plaintive raga, which creates a mood of delighted adoration in a gentle, loving sentiment. When played it creates an aura of a profound & pathos-filled melody.

Apart from the raga Todi or Miyan Ki Todi, there are also other forms of Todi such as, Gurjari Todi, Bilaskhani Todi, Asavari Todi, Desi Todi, Bhoopal Todi & many more. Posted below are four variations of Todi beautifully rendered by none other than Pandit Jasraj.

Miyan ki Todi :  (Download)

Gurjari Todi :  (Download)

Jayawanti Todi :  (Download)

Abiri Todi :  (Download)

This set of music was recorded in 1980. All the above songs are in variations of the raga Todi. Accompanying Pandit Jasraj are Appa Jalgaonkar on harmonium and Nizamuddin Khan on tabla. These performances are now out of print.

Enjoy !!

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