Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Music, Colours and all that Jazz!

The human mind is an amazing specimen of architectural and engineering genius. When trained and set to work, it builds monuments and sends missions to outer space! At the same time, a bird’s song, a piece of instrumental music, sets the mind free.

 Music breaks the barriers that we impose on ourselves and opens a wide arena of imagination. It harbors creativity. It is labelled as the ultimate form of self-expression. Artists across the globe have been creating music, stealing hearts and changing lives. But there’s much more to it. Music has the power to influence the mind. It has the power to dictate a change and welcome the unknown.
Today as we celebrate the Festival of Colours, MeetKalakar celebrates the spirit of Music, and the colour it adds to the canvas of our lives.

We all began our journey as a little being, in one of the most secure places ever! Our mother’s wombs. The colour red, her blood pumped life into us and gave us the energy to sustain, the first piece of music presented to us, was the sound of our mother’s heartbeat. It is a constant assurance and the sound that is tied to our lives. As we enter our formative years, primary colours are filling our lives, the blue of the skies, the yellow of the sunflower, the red of the rising sun. Rhymes and Poetry are music to us. The colours now mature to numerous shades, our moods are changing, and music is changing too. Mother’s lullaby is replaced with a pop song, a jingle from the TV commercial, the beat of drums in your school band, the Alma matter song. Music keeps you company through all the peer pressure, the bullying, the heart aches, the love, the celebrations and the tears. The journey speeds up, music changes rapidly and only selected genres make it to our ipods. As adults, every time our Mondays are blue, we switch to music and feed our souls.

Your moods dictate the song on which you click play, and then everything changes. The notes fill up voids, music heals you, bleeds love and holds on to every bit of you. Music motivates people, be it the inspiration to take you through a cardio workout or the stress buster you need before exams, after a board meeting, after a serious confrontation. There’s a tune for every mood. Colours have the potential to brighten your day and help you to a new perspective.

The relationship between music and colours has been scientifically proven. Colours in a wide spectrum correspond to moods. They are an indicator of the state of mind, and music is therapy. Music brings people together, across borders, cultures and ideologies. It connects the dots and fills the blanks. Music and Colours have been the two wheels in the carriage of creativity and novelty. It may move you to stir a revolution; it may bring you to your knees in awe. It has the same effect on every individual, irrespective of the colour of their skin, their nationality or political views.
Brushes on a landscape and the notes from an instrument, they have the capacity to make you laugh or cry, or both at once and make you feel your hair stand up.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Gharana s in Music

We come across the term ‘Gharana’ while talking about the Hindustani stream of Indian Classical Music; The other stream of ICM [i.e. Carnatic music] does not have this concept.

An average general listener at a Concert of ICM may not worry much about the Gharana of the artist singing / playing music there.  The listener primarily gets entertained during the recital and alongside probably gets informed / educated about the music; the pleasure of listening is enough for him.

What is a Gharana then? Simply put, a ‘Gharana is a family of musicians’. Gharana is a Style or a School of thought of music. Each school has distinct features which characterize it deferentially from the other styles.

There are Gharanas in vocal music - in Khayal, in Dhrupad, in Thumari, in Tappa.
According to some, a style of Thumari is known as ‘Baaj’ (like Banaras or Lucknow baaj) rather than Gharana.

The concept of Gharana is also found in melody instrument as well as percussion instrumental music – one comes across Gharanas of Sitar, Sarode, sarangi etc and in Tabla, Pakhawaj too.

The traditional method of training in music - the ‘Guru-Shishya parampara’- could be the basis of evolving a Gharana. A creative musician would experiment with new ideas; with his convictions he would establish a separate musical ideology. The new school could be somewhat or radically different from the prevailing structure of music.   That’s how an independent identifiable school called a Gharana emerges.

The convictions of the musician straightway affect the contemplation, training, presentation and appreciation of music for a pupil learning from him. The disciple absorbs such features (techniques of music, mental inclinations of the Guru) and would eventually pass these on to his student. If the style transcends through at least three generations like Guru > Disciple > Disciple (or Musician > Son / Nephew > family-member) the style gets the status of a Gharana. 

In practice, an artist from a gharana may pick up once in a while, a stylistic aspect appealing to him of another gharana to improve on his gayaki. It is also seen these days that a musician learns from another Guru for a limited purpose to pick up some aspects which he liked.

Since the styles have their own distinct identities, certain Ragas and therefore some Bandish’s (compositions) are predominantly performed in some (and not all) Gharanas.

A common listener, depending upon his mental inclination, may develop more affection, loyalty towards a Gharana for enjoying a performance; while some others become fans of a musician. 

A brief glance on some of the well-known Gharanas of vocal khayal music here:

Pioneer in Khayal gayaki, it is the oldest [16th century] Gharana and is known for its simplicity. The musicians of Gwalior Gharana generally prefer to sing ‘Shuddha Raga’s. The style is considered to be "Ashtanga Pradhana" – balanced still complete with the all the features like Alap, Bol-Alap / Tana, Layakari, Meend, Gamaka etc. Pta Malini tai Rajurkar, Pt Ulhas Kashalkar, Pt Madhukar buwa Joshi and some others offer Gwaliar Gayaki at present.

Agra Gharana [19th / 20th century] artists offer a long ‘Nom Tom’ Alap prior to the Khayal composition; they emphasis on the purity of the Raga as well as on the forceful and deep voice. One can listen to Ustad Raja Mian’s singing these days, a best illustration of Agra gayaki

Jaipur – Atrauli Gharana:
Many maestro names of yesteryears - Mallikarjun Mansoor, Moghubai Kurdikar, Dhondutai Kulkarni - come to mind at the mention of Jaipur Atrauli Gharana. Among the features of this laya-based gayaki are the predominance of ‘Aakar’ in the development of a Raga; ‘Anavat’ Rare ragas,  Ragas either uncommon in other Gharanas or not much heard by the general concert-goers. Some musicians from this Gharana we get to hear these days are Gaansaraswati Kishori Amonkar, Pta Shruti sadolikar-Katkar, Pta Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande.

Ustad Abdul Karim Khan (1872-1937 AD) founded the Kiarana Gharana, exponents like Sawai Gandharv, Bharatratna Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Dr Gangubai Hangal, Pt Phiroz Dastur have made it the most popular Gharana at present. It lays more emphasis on the emotional content.  The artists of this style deploy a soft and sensitive voice. In a leisurely tempo, the development of a Raga is progressively made almost note by note. Alaps are given due importance. Dr Prabha Atre is the torchbearer of Kirana at present.

There are some more Gharanas in vocal Khayal music like Patiala, Rampur-Sehaswan, Bhendi Bazaar, Banaras, Mewati etc which are heard these days and they do have audience.

On a lighter note:
An artist trying his best to introduce his Gharana in a recital had difficulty to succeed and hence unable to impress his audience. Exasperated, he lost his way.
One listener whispers to the other in the crowd: “What Gharana he belongs to?”
Answer: “Independent Gharana!
He is enjoying all the liberties of any Gharana, so he is independent of Gharana!!” 


Wishwas Jawdekar

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Celebrating Womanhood, Celebrating Art

Art has been the greatest form of human expression down the ages. We express our deepest emotions- anger, love, lust, aggression by art. Talented artists have spoken in the powerful language of music and composed beautiful pieces for our occasional indulgence and afterthoughts. Music has freed the souls of many from the shackles of societal norms and allowed them to seek solace and speak one language. There have been women who have contributed to art and music in their own great ways and we are unaware of it.

Art and Music have been dominated by men down the ages and women got recognised rarely. Female artists are considered incompetent without being given a fair chance to play their instrument or perform. They are judged too early and celebrated rarely.

MeetKalakar believes in recognising and celebrating Womanhood along with art and music.
I’d like to quote Diana Mariechild here, “A woman is a full circle, within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”  Gradually the notes, the tunes, the beats, the strokes of the brush, the grace in a woman’s movement is being identified and appreciated by audiences all across the globe.
Many such expressive and talented artists associated with MeetKalakar have reached out to audiences and broken barriers of prejudice and dogma associated with art.

MeetKalakar proudly celebrates Pandita Uma Dogra’s Kathak performances. She has been known to enthral audiences pan India and abroad for more than three decades now. Uma translates music for her audience and weaves magic with her grace. Her movement throws around her own distinguished style and authenticity. She has won many titles and honours including Sangeet Natak Academy Award from President Sh.Pranab Mukherjee himself. 

In the field of Western dance forms, a name that has made its way to many Ballet connoisseurs is Yana Lewis. Yana Lewis is the only certified ISTD, UK, Ballet teacher in India, a passionate choreographer, advanced Iyengar Yoga Practitioner with over 35 years in ballet. She has been a dedicated and disciplined teacher, working relentlessly to bring out the best in her students. Through her workshops she reaches out to hundreds of children and irrespective of their financial background brings to them the joy of Ballet and they use it as a powerful medium of self-expression.
It is said that anytime women come together they spin magic. Whether they sit down to make a quilt, cook a meal, plan a party, compose music, dance to beats the experience is magical and so is the outcome. A renowned magician Kruti Parekh bears testimony to this. Kruti is India's First Test-Tube Baby by Birth, an I.T Engineer by Education, World's Youngest Artistic Illusionist & India's Young Mind Genius. She is the only magician who has a course running at the Mumbai University on MAGIC. She recently became the Youngest Special Executive Officer for (Govt. of Maharashtra). 

The list doesn’t end and neither does our appreciation for these wonderful artists. Whatever be the form of art or expression, women have always broken barriers, created benchmarks, won admiration and envy alike. This is a call to the graceful woman inside you, waiting to break the spell, inspire and get inspired, to leave audiences in awe and to bow to a thunderous applause with grace. 

Ekta Mourya

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Launch of website of Suvarna Kulkarni - Meeetkalakar member

Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form originating in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.Bharatnatyam proper is a solo dance, with two aspects, lasya, the graceful feminine lines and movements, and tandava Ananda Thandavam (Tamil) (the dance of Shiva)

As a solo dance, Bharatnatyam leans heavily on the abhinaya of dance - the nritya, where the dancer expresses the sahitya through movement and mime. Shabdam follows the jatiswaram in a Bharatnatyam dance performance. The accompanying song is generally in adoration of the
Supreme Being.

Suvarna Kulkarni, one of the members of Meetkalakar family, is an eminent Bharatnatyam danseuse, brought up under the guidance of great Bhartanatyam Guru Smt. Sucheta Bhide-Chapekar in “Tanjavar” style of Bharatnatyam Dance. We are now proud to launch 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Musical ‘notes’ from Baajaa Gaajaa 2011...

103 artists, one art. Music of all kinds, but for the true music lover it’s to heaven and back in 3 says. It may be called baajaa gaajaa, but it is hardly just a band of bands. It is a festival where the deity worshipped is music in its purest form, without bias for native or foreign, traditional or modern. And where else but the cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune!

The light February chill made the three days from 4th to 6 th pleasant for strings to shiver and drums to reverberate. Baajaa gaaja got off to a rocking start opened on a subtle note by Girish Karnad . And by evening the music hit crescendo with Assamese singer –composer Papon  jamming with  Niladri Kumar ‘s sitar and Satyajit Talwalkar ‘s tabla in collaboration with Juan Diego ‘s flamenco guitar and Isreal “ Katumba” Mera’s percussion . With musical Q&As interspersed with challenges to improvise, the concert was teasingly called Cordial Relations. The festival had performances, exhibitions, seminars and screenings spread over 3 venues at Inshanya Design Centre. As purists enjoyed their unblemished recital in one place, fusion cut through the fence sitters and liberals. Personifying fusion was Flautist Steve Gorn who plays Indian classical music and new American music with his bansuri bamboo flute. “It’s a wonderful platform for music especially experimental music”, said Gorn who believes it is wonderful to perform to audiences in India.  The festival not only brought music from genres of classical, folk and world music together but also bridged the gap between the artist and the listener through lectures, seminars and films. A high point was Spandan Bannerji’s film on the journey of a song from its folk origins through urban mutation to popular culture.

“You can call it a musical Jatra “, said vocalist Rajashri Pathak who closed the final day at one of the venues: Jalsaghar. Pathak is a student of Shobha Gurtu and Sarla Bhide. An award winning vocalist her repertoire includes khayal, thumri, dadra and Kumaoni hori. But it wasn’t all work and no play. A Hinduatani classical Antakshari, the popular game which has participants creating a song chain had hard core fans as well as lay music lovers sit up and sway. 

Speaking of his experience at baajaa gaaja, Harmonium player Sriram Hasabnis said, “Different people enjoy different levels of complexity in music. This is one platform where there is something for everyone’s ear”. For some this has now become an annual pilgrimage. Like Tabla player Supreet Dhespande who said, “ From what I have seen in the past 3 years, I think this will become the one of the most prestigious stages from which we can reach out to the audience”. A student of maestro Suresh Talwalkar, Supreet is known for blending tradition with popular presentation of tabla as a solo instrument. His solo recitals are a blend of Delhi, Ajrada, Benaras, Punjab and Farrukhabad gharanas.

The festival proved that music can never be mastered, it can only be learnt continuously. The coming together of forms also turned out to be an eye or rather ‘ear’ opener for musicians. Dilpreet Bhatia who is trained in Hindustani classical vocal music and plays rhythm guitars and keyboards candidly admitted about some rare performances, “Even I didn’t know this type of music existed. It is fascinating. It means that whenever you are reaching out to people you don’t know it means you are actually doing what is meant to be done with music.” Indeed, that is what baajaa gaajaa is meant to be.

- By Prachi Wagh
(Meetkalakar Associate)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Architecture in motion

Her body is still as stone but her eyes speak. The motionless curvaceous figure is frozen in time, but warm. As light exposes her seductive frame, music streams in and the audience senses the sculpture move. Is that imagination or is the set dancing? Even as an enchanted audience waits eagerly for the dancers to enter, the revelation takes them by surprise. The set is the cast. Rani Ki Baav, a Kathak ballet by Mukta Joshi uses performing art to tell the story of an ancient temple in Gujarat. Ironically most temple sculptures are like books in stone teaching classical dance in it purest form. So when a dancer explains how these beautiful and seemingly everlasting pillars, walls and domes could have been crafted, it seems like art has come a full circle.

The ballet tells the story of how the master-piece was built. With a Vishnu idol in its sanctum sanctorum the temple was built in 1100 AD by queen Udaimati. The step well called ‘Rani ki baodi’ is an architectural marvel. A repertoire of thirty-five dancers brings to life the seven storey underground structure. Transporting the audience back in time, step by step human pillars emerge out of thin air. Dancers carve their bodies into walls depicting stories from the Puranas. Joshi interprets through poetry how each figure must have been conceived by the sculptor and then given form out of raw stone. In a span of 50 minutes the empty space of the stage as well as the imagined site of ‘Rani ka bhav’ transforms into a workshop where artists build architecture through art.

“When I started I had the challenge of interpreting history. I decided to base it on my understanding of aesthetics. I studied ancient sculpture and then thought to myself. A lady striking a dancing pose could not have modeled for months together for the sculptor to copy and recreate. So I came to the conclusion that the artist must have derived inspiration from classical poetry.”

‘The young lady waits for her lover, wearing fragrant flowers, holding a mango branch in blossom’ the poetic rendition gives enough material for an artist to create, be it on canvass, in stone or on stage. The expression that woman may have had, the season when the mango blossoms, the mood created by the fragrance yet loneliness that fills her heart with both hope and dejection. Joshi feels the sculptor created his masterpiece based on his interpretation, not by creating portraits of real dancers.

In Rani Ki Baav projections of actual photographs are used to create the context. Use of multimedia as a supportive element in a dance ballet can enhance the theatrical impact; a technique Joshi is not shy of using. In her other production ‘Pungiwala’ Joshi used shadow theatre. An adaptation of The Pied Piper this ballet was for children and the scene of a million mice was created using shadows. However the Kathak remains pure and the music unadulterated.

A disciple of Roshan Kumari Mukta Joshi is an exponent of the Jaipur gharana and the founder of Nrityadhara Kathak Research Institute based in Thane. Her other dance ballets include Bansileela and Kathak-Lavni Jugalbandi.

- Post by Prachi Wagh

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kamlesh Bhadkamkar on music

It was on the day of his graduation that Kamlesh conducted ‘Amrutacha Vasa’, his first live program. Since then, he has organized many big popular live shows. But his real passion is niche, thought-based programs. He is the music arranger of many films and television shows, including the popular SaReGaMaPa on Zee Marathi. We talked to him about his life and times in Marathi music industry on the occasion of his recently conducted program of duets ‘Tuzhya gala mazhya gala’ at Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre.

On how he selected the theme for the program

Kamlesh routinely conducts big music events attended by celebrities and large  audiences. The songs selection for this program is dominated by performance-oriented and orchestration-oriented items. He wanted to do something different, program concepts that will provide a thinking challenge to him and his team.

He was toying with his laptop, going through new duet compositions from the album Swaragandha, when the concept of a new program suddenly came to him. He realized that the idea of duets is much bigger than romantic songs. Devotional, lavani, phatke – a whole world of duets lies beyond the few popular types of duets, people usually hear. Kamlesh started delving deeper and deeper into this treasure land. He included some gems like ‘Chal Chal Re’ from Prabhat’s Sant Dnyaneshwar. He extended the theme to include two musicians, like the rare combination of Vasant Pawar as music director and Sudhir Phadke as singer in Awaghachi Sansar. New compositions were put alongside the classics. Slowly, the theme of the program took shape. Hosting it in a place like Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre was a challenge as Dadar Matunga Cultural Center is so particular about the quality of programs and the audience is highly discerning.


But the program won the hearts of the audience. It mixed the magic of old masters with the promise of new talent. “This kind of program is the only platform where you can present more intricate and subtle music. Though I host large events, I find myself coming back to Baithak programs time and again” Kamlesh says. He insists on at least 10 rehearsals before such a program. “When the concept and content of a program is strong, the participation and positive energy that the group experiences is tremendous”, feels Kamlesh.

On how he started his journey in music

Kamlesh ventured in the wonderland of live music right in his college days. He thanks his professor – Prof. Patankar in D. G. Ruparel college for initiating him and many like him. “Four programs a year and 30 songs per program. We graduated with a heritage of 600 songs!” remembers Kamlesh. His future was sealed when the students hosted ‘Gaani Suyashreenchi’ a program on compositions of Sudhir Phadke [Su], Yashwant Dev [Ya] and Shreenivas Khale [Shree]. Shreenivas Khale was present in this event and he appreciated Kamlesh’s talent. He went on to become a music arranger for Khalekaka’s work. Working with a legend gave him recognition – a place, in the industry. Most important has been his family’s contribution. His parents gave him unbending support in his music career, something so unusual in his middle class family. In the early nineties, he wanted a professional keyboard, but a good keyboard was not so easily available then and it was an expensive affair. His mother mortgaged her jewelery and Kamlesh got his first keyboard. His father was his moral support in the toughest of the days.

On casting artists for the Dadar Matunga Cultural Center program

Presenting duets is a mix of interaction, enacting and harmony. The casting of the program was done keeping in mind that every singer owns a certain voice quality – husky, sharp, easy and so on. The audience should be presented with a range of voice qualities in a live show to avoid the program getting monotonous. This also prompted Kamlesh to cast child artists from Varsha Bhaves’s Kalaangan. They added a variety to the program that kept the audience always interested.

On the recent wave of reality shows and what the young talent should keep in mind

Reality shows mean an exceptional platform for the young. It is also becoming a good vehicle for new compositions to reach the people. Most of the times the reality shows are theme-based and compositions that fit in the theme are chosen. A theme program for Radha-Krishna naturally has a place for ‘Radha hi Bawari’. This does a lot of good to the popularity of new compositions.


Young participants will learn a lot about their strengths and weaknesses and they should utilize it in their further learning in music. However, they should learn to handle the sudden rise in popularity. They should not get carried away by hype, promotion, glamor and hefty compensation they get. “In music, the journey is more important than the destination”, Kamlesh would like to tell his young colleagues.