Brhaddhvani organizes workshops on Rhythm Studies and Hindustani Dhrupad

August 24, 2012

Chennai based music training and research institute Brhaddhvani, organized two workshops on Rhythm and Mridangam Studies conducted by Prof. Trichy Sankaran and Hindustani classical music with focus on the Dhrupad style by Pt Falguni Mitra.

During his talk at the curtains down on the workshop, Prof. Sankaran spoke at length on the unification of `tala, laya and rhythm.’ Layam, he said, “is the bedrock of the whole concept of time.”  While dwelling on the subject of 'time keeping' and 'time marking,' he gave a number of examples from diverse music cultures from across the world. He gave a summary of the five categories of talas - marga tala, desi tala, suladi sapta talas, tiruppugazh chanda talas, and chapu talas.

As a fitting conclusion, a DVD titled ‘Sankaran's Musical Journey’ was played, which portrayed his pedagogical, performance, and world music involvements besides narration of his musical journey from his childhood to the present day.

During 10 sessions, held between July 27 and August 10, Prof. Sankaran highlighted rhythm from world music perspectives, in general, and Carnatic music, in particular. He elaborated his perspectives on the concept of layam, principle of trikalam and korvais. He demonstrated how the trikalam principle was applied at various levels - from the study of alankaram to the higher level of Pallavi (Ragam, Tanam and Pallavi) - in different magnitudes. He taught the participants several korvais in adi talam, khanda chapu, and adi talam kanda nadai. He also demonstrated a variety of the traditional korvais.

Prof. Trichy Sankaran

Prof. Trichy Sankaran and Pt Falguni Mitra

The workshop on Hindustani music (Aug 6-19) offered a special focus on Dhruvapada (Dhrupad), the oldest and most revered genre of North Indian classical music. Experienced performers and teachers of Carnatic music and Khyal, many of who are faculty at Brhaddhvani, attended the intensive workshop led by Pandit Falguni Mitra of Kolkata, a renowned Hindustani musician and an expert performer of Alap, Dhrupad, and Dhamar. The workshop is part of an initiative to introduce Hindustani music into the core vision and curriculum at Brhaddhvani.

Prof. Falguni Mitra spoke on the historical development of Hindustani music’s dominant genres and shared his perspective on how and why Dhrupad has long been considered the foundational genre for both the grammar and the aesthetics of North Indian classical music. Using composition as the primary vehicle for introducing students to raga, laya, tala and compositional form, he taught students Dhrupads and Dhamar of varying complexity in core ragas of the Hindustani repertory such as Bhairav, Shuddh Kalyan, Jaijaiwanti and Malkauns, as well as ragas such as Abhogi. He demonstrated the significance, coherence and function of the 4-part structure of dhrupad and showed its archetypal similarity to the 3-part pallavi, anu-pallavi, charanam structure of the kriti form in Carnatic music.

The workshop ended with a full performance of raga Jaijaiwanti by Pt. Mitra, where he demonstrated a 3-section alap in three tempos, followed by a beautiful 4-part dhrupad composed by Baiju, and layakari befitting the serious sentiment and bhava of the composition. As a contrast, he then showed how a Khandhar Bani dhrupad in raga Bihag by Tansen’s son Surat Sen engenders much more exuberant layakari, even while keeping intact the words and their meaning. He particularly alerted students against staccato delivery of compositions, and breaking of words in layakari and improvisation that is not in keeping with the rasa and bhava of the raga and the song. The audience included young learners at Brhaddhvani and their parents, as well as the workshop participants.

The students were also treated to a wonderful interaction between Falguni Mitra, pakhawaj artiste Apurbalal Manna and mridangam maestro Prof. Trichy Sankaran. Sankaran observed that he had played with great stalwarts but this was his first experience of interacting with a dhrupad musician, an experience that was mutually enriching.

Both stalwarts visited Chennai at the invitation of Dr. Karaikudi S Subramanian, Founder Director of Brhaddhvani.  Brhaddhvani proposes to host a series of workshops throughout the year to enhance learning and experience of interested students.