Posts Tagged ‘Safeguarding’

Madhukali Releases rare recordings


Madhukali had initiated a project  two years ago for conversion of  music, available on analog magnetic tapes and audio cassettes to digital format. Since then, encouraging communication has been received in this regard. People have sent in queries about the process for getting audio and video content on analog systems; some have informed how they could achieve it through use of appliances available at home. Several queries fizzled into silence after initial interest. Still, there is  some positive result to report.

Dr. Lalmani Misra first organized Dhrupad Mela at Varanasi in 1975 and in next few years worked for its continuation. In the little time available (he died in July 1979), he could turn it into a tradition. The almost invisible practices of Dhruva-pad singing and Pakhawaj-playing,  gained national and international lime-light within a decade and today exist as mainstream practices of classical music. Dr. Misra organized the event in collaboration with Sangeet Natak Akademi, Maharaja of Banaras and Mahant ji of Sankatmochan. He chose Dr. Rajeshwar Acharya and Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya (both were young music students at BHU in 1975) to assist with the project. Prominent citizens and musicians were contacted to maximize participation of Dhrupad singers and Pakhawaj players. During the three day conference ending on Shivratri, discussion were held during day sessions and recitals were given from evening to morning. Pandit Ravishankar and Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar were present as chief guests in the inaugural function.

For the final session on the last day, Dr. Misra was invited to give recital on Vichitra Veena. Pt. Amarnath Mishra, Mahant of Sankatmochan accompanied him on Pakhawaj. Misrabani technique enhances the range of string instruments to present complex compositions. It was a perfect finale to gathering of Dhrupad musicians. He played Bairagi, bringing in dawn and consummated the festival with Bharavi.

To commemorate tenth anniversary of UNESCO Convention 2003, Madhukali planned release of this precious recording and some others in March 2013. “A Dawn of Veena” represents the endeavour to preserve and promote traditional practices –  both,  the original effort of organization and present attempt at digital preservation.


In a function dedicated to Dr. Lalmani Misra, organized by Madhukali, his son late Dr. Gopal Shankar Misra and disciple Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya presented a duet on Sitar and Santoor. The 1992 recording made on magnetic cassette tapes has been successfully converted to digital format. “Wings on Strings” sports the spontaneous Upaj work m hallmark of Indian Classical Music, in Raga Kirwani.


Madhukali choir, since its very inception has been accomplishing a rare task: combining best poetry with classical music. It has released several titles of such compositions. In “Geet, Ghazal: Abhinav Pahal” poetry of Pt. Krishna Kishor Dwivedi, Shivmangal Singh Suman and several others like Amir Khusro, Ghalib, Meer and Bahadur Shah Zafar.


Interested persons may write to for placing orders.

Safeguarding ICH: Identifying Elements in Music


The difference between tangible and intangible heritage has been pointed again and again. Clear poignant measures may be taken for protection, restoration and appreciation of tangible cultural heritage. Whereas these measures often require a small amount of modification, by and large the principle remains unaltered. It is neither sufficient nor advisable to safeguard intangible heritage in this fashion. For, it exists in practice,  in continuity, more like an organism than a finished product.

One has to understand the motivation fuelling a practice in order to safeguard not merely the practice but its essence as well. Without taking into count this intangible – the immeasurable aspect of the art-form –, despite logic of methodology and objective examination, the benefic exercise would become the bane. The end of knowledge is not mere collection or aggregation; all these essentials lose value if creation of new idea-s is blocked.


Practice of music in India is traceable from Veda-s. This practice was motivated, in part, with aim of granting  joy and still more, for self fulfillment and absolution. It developed as a discipline with guiding principles based on tangible phenomena. Safeguarding of Indian classical music involves respect for both its motivations. Absolution, in itself an abstraction, provides the practice with ability to transcend the physical rules; yet due its innate obscurity is likely to be shunned for clearer goal of granting pleasure. The science of Indian music developed with clear principles, which permit it full play and space for innovation (Upaj) and safeguard its practice from turning into vain exercise in providing vacuous pleasure to undiscerning people. The danger of ‘entertainment’ devouring  ‘discernment’ and ‘absolution’ was never greater. With breaking up of all human affairs into consumption and production, demand and supply, the ‘fast buck’ has pushed away all other concerns.

Indian Classical Music practice was gradually being molded towards the ostensible goal of pleasing listeners, ever since music could be recorded and replayed. No musician had ever listened to himself singing in exact fashion over and over again. And now, the ability to sing in a manner that could not be bettered – because, this same performance would be heard with same flourishes and blemishes – changed the very mode of Riyaz.IMG_4825 The objective now became an exercise in dissatisfaction for executing blameless performance instead of immersing and losing oneself in one’s music. A still more dominant factor was Time; the necessity to bind one’s practice into definite duration.

It is not that idea of excellence and competence were absent prior to this; but they existed more as just reward that comes to deserving and fortunate practitioner. Concept of detached Karma (one has no right over the result of one’s action) modulated the practitioner’s psyche. Historically, a large number of practitioners, rooted in idea of absolution through art,  remained content with their station in life.  The increasing pressure of externality erodes the internal fulfillment, and most practitioners succumb to immediacy of tangible rewards than wait for intangible, uncertain absolution.

Stalwart vocalist of Jaipur-Atrauli school, Pt. Rajshekhar Mansur received training in music and life from his father and Guru. He confides how his father prohibited him from using music for earning livelihood.  Music is for mind and heart, not for stomach and flesh. And so the son took up university degree and pursued career in higher education, even as he kept learning with his father. Modern thrust on individual as efficient consumer-producer batters all activities into demand-supply chain. Individuals are taught to excel in an activity that comes closest to their heart and use it for subsistence.  Fulfillment is welcome so long it aids economic cycle; but self-sufficiency that opts out is frowned upon. It no longer fits in with the system. So long as music aims to entertain others, it is an activity involving exchange; but when its end is self-fulfillment, it denies the external world. Apart from such a stance being against consumption, it also exemplifies an alternative to rat-race existence.

The idea of attaining bliss – Sat, Chit, Anand – was evocative of spirituality and thus Indian music practitioners whole-heartedly accepted and professed it as ‘spiritual’. Any attempt to approach it rationally were opposed and rejected. Scholars, on other hand, had always  discussed practice and directed course of development.  Introduction of tangible aspects in recent past has reduced clarity and focus in academics.  Through equalization, trivia – because of sheer volume – now  commands greater attention of learner, practitioner than actual science.

Indian Classical Music thus faces threats on all platforms: political, social, economic and academic. Political correctness attacks it for ‘elitism’; socially, it is less than entertainment; it is no longer an economically viable activity  with inverted user: time ratio; academically a near-impossibility to teach with reduced attention span and learning time. Whereas technology aids most learning activities, inter-relationship of Music and Time, does not provide short-cuts.

Safeguarding Indian music thus involves re-affirmation of its shadowed goal – self-fulfillment, sublimation, absolution – through Appreciation, Practice and Education leading to awareness and consensus amongst practitioners for preserving innate strength and essence. People have to realize that solution to thirst in a desert lies not in turning it into ocean, but in a tiny, secluded haven. Music, like life, has existed only through giving not mining. As Magi would say, giving is reward in itself.

Sitar in willing hand: 3rd Workshop in Pune


Stalwarts in music were prone to make a trite remark to a novitiate eager to impress – “Prove through performance not by idle talk”. IMG_4566Often did pupils of Dr. Lalmani Misra hear this remark and were motivated to devote themselves to their art. As Dean, Music & Performing Arts and Fine Arts, he introduced a weekly concert where a teacher and a student were selected to present recital each Thursday. He insisted on breaking the monotony of self-same Riyaz through such innovative practices. Madhukali, in keeping with thought and practices of its mentor, has sought ways and means to energize practice and appreciation of music. To mark the tenth anniversary of UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Madhukali planned this year’s activities to start with teaching of music.  Click here to view a clip of   Workshop in progress

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Durlabh Raga Prasang: Conserving Complex Content


Idea, practice, appreciation – this is the cycle involved in creation and enjoyment of art. Expression itself holds a great value in the artistic process. Change in external circumstances, in living conditions, have honed human skills and instincts. The aesthetic element manifesting itself through numerous practices had been taken for granted. It was only as we bid adieu to second millennium that need to protect and nurture this spirit was recognized. “Art as Vehicle of Intangible” was therefore chosen as topic worthy of artistic deliberations. Pt. Rajshekhar MansurMadhukali organized annual Omenad Conference on 31st December, 1st January and 2nd January 2011 with performances by various scholar-artistes leaving lasting impression on aficionados of Bhopal. Music lovers, scholars and enthusiasts had travelled from across country to attend conference and concerts during three-day event organized by Madhukali in collaboration with Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya. Several well-wishers and music-lovers had expressed their desire for organization of another such event and at cities other than Bhopal. In discussing the essence of Indian aesthetics in “Art as Vehicle of Intangible”, it had come out that more opportunities must be created for expression of art in keeping with sensibilities innate in Art, to effect course-correction.

In the domain of Indian Classical Music the urgency for safeguarding of traditional practices needs to be recognized. For it to be vehicle of intangible, Art needs to be regularly displayed. It was recognized that the there are two main areas where safeguarding efforts have to be directed.

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