In a delightful play of sound and silence, Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar brings out the true essence of dhrupad in this recital spanning 2 hours. In contemporary times, festivals and venues cower under time constraints, curtailing long, meditative presentations as these into short ones.
However, Darbar’s mandatory dhrupad concerts have always proven otherwise – the audience’s love for this repertoire has been a constant. At the end of this recital, which consists of a detailed alap, jod and jhala in two morning ragas – Ahir Bhairav and Mian Ki Todi - Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar comes back for an encore upon the demand of a full-house audience.
As a preface to his performance, Ustad Dagar begins by introducing the concept of silence that fills the spaces between sounds in an introspective form as dhrupad.
In Ahir Bhairav, he devotes major time to the alap and jod. He explores the raga amply deploying full-throated gamaks and plumbs the pensive emotions in the lower tera-chord. The upper tetra-chord is unfurled with delightful swoops between notes that is accentuated by meends and robust vocalisations. The alap and jor are followed by a dhamar in 14 beats.
In Mian Ki Todi, pancham or Pa is unfolded gradually in the alap. Ustad Dagar proceeds to describe the pancham of Mian Ki Todi as a symbol of unadulterated beauty and dwells on it for some time, bringing out its hypnotic beauty. The subtle oscillation between notes is demonstrated with distinctive clarity and charming narratives.
In this entire recital, Ustad Dagar displays a fascinating array of meends, making the ‘silent’ notes perceptible to his listeners. The composition in Mian Ki Todi set to 12 beats is performed with elegant laykari.
Sukhad Munde’s strokes on the pakhawaj blend with Ustad Dagar’s voice and ornamentations with riveting perfection and leisurely ease. He improvises with excellent intuition, complementing the embellishments and vocalisations of Ustad Dagar with the syllables of his pakhawaj. Munde’s breathtaking modulation and strength is especially evident during Mian Ki Todi.
Ustad Dagar ends his performance with a unique offering – a dhrupad raagmala. Here, he strings together Shudh Sarang, Behag, Lalit and Desh, explaining the difference in the personality or emotional colour of each raga. In this section, he makes it interactive for his audience by asking them to hit the tonic Sa while he performs alap in different ragas and himself comes back to Sa. The idea was to demonstrate the static nature of this note, no matter how different the moods and flavours of the ragas are.
Wasifuddin Dagar (dhrupad vocal)
Sukhad Munde (pakhawaj)
Priya Prakash and Gunwant Dhadyalla (tanpuras)
Raag: Ahir Bhairav, Thaat: Bhairav, Samay: 6 am to 9 am
Raag: Mian Ki Todi, Thaat: Todi, Samay: early morning
Raag Shudh Sarang, Raag Desh, Raag Behag, Raag Lalit,
Recorded at Darbar Festival 2018 on 27 Oct, at London’s Barbican Centr