Dhruvatara - the evening star, the star
that never trembles, and Pada - poetry, merge to give
name to this music, Dhrupad.
Dhrupad, the name does what it should,
it makes luminous the nature of that which is named.
"When I close my eyes and begin to sing, there
is only darkness... slowly, light comes, then the beginnings
of colour." [Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar]
This is a music which depends very little
on virtuosity. Here, whatever becomes music is what
has been contemplated upon. The musician is alone with
nothing but the vastness of the self as anchor, the
very musicality lying in the contemplation. There is
little here that can impress, that has a narrative,
events or arrival.
What there is instead is a movement, born out of the
musical search that takes the self from wherever it
is standing to a new, unknown place.
is the oldest existing form of Indian classical music.
Its origin is linked to the recitation of Sama veda,
the sacred Sanskrit text. Dhrupad probably evolved from
the earlier chanting of Om, the sacred syllable which
is claimed to be the source of all creation. Later,
the rhythmic chanting of the Vedic scriptures evolved
into singing of Chhanda and Prabandha.
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 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 to Brijbhasha sometime
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 highly sophisticated for royal audiences.
The compositions became more secular. Some were written
in praise of the emperors ; others were elaboration
on the music itself.
However, the pristine nature of Dhrupad
survived. 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.
The nature of Dhrupad is spiritual-
its purpose is aradhana (worship).
Seeking not to entertain,
but to induce deep feelings of peace and contemplation
in the listener.
Dhrupad music has three major parts: Alaap,
Jor-Jhala and Composition.
Alaap is sung with words that have been derived from
the shloka "Hari Om Narayana Taan Tarana Tum"
with which the artist develops the raga, note-by-note
with the accompaniment of the tanpura. The emphasis
is on developing each note with purity and clarity.
Alaap entails the search for the most perfect pitch
of every note. So it takes you into a world where only
sound patterns remain. The Alaap unfolds in four parts
- sthai, antara, abhog and sanchari.
In the Jor, the raga develops with a steady beat which
is non-cyclical. It again unfolds the personality of
the raga through the sthai, antara, abhog and sanchari.
The artist concludes the Alaap after exploring the Jhala
through the same process but at a faster pace.
After this, Dhrupad compositions are sung to the accompaniment
of the pakhawaj. The compositions are usually set in
Chau taal (12 beats cycle), Sul taal (10 beats cycle),
Tivra taal (7 beats cycle) or Dhamar (14 beats cycle).
The meaning of the text in the composition is very important.
Svasek at the Dagar Gurukul