ANCIENT INDIAN STRINGS

            USTADS OF THE SAADHAARANI GEETI

USTAD ZIAUDDIN KHAN {1886-1946)

 Ustad Ziauddin Khan Dagar was born to Umrao Dagar, who was the daughter of Ustad Bande Ali Khan Saheb-a beenkaar from the Senia tradition. Ustad Bande Ali Khan set up a Swayamvar stating that any body who is willing to sing with his veena shall be given his daughter’s hand in marriage. To this Ustad Zakirudiin Khan Dagar got up and sang. Happy with his singing Ustad Bande Ali Khan wed  his daughter to Ustad Zakiruddin Khan. Umrao was also a beenkaar. On one occasion when Ustad Zakiruddin Khansaheb went away for a concert he left his been open with all the frets removed. When he came back he found it in perfect condition to play. On asking ,who had done this, Umrao replied in  stern tone “To leave a been open like this is considered inauspicious, the next time you don’t want it touched, please restore it and then go where you need to.

She died after immediately giving birth to Ustad Ziauddin Khan Dagar. He thus spent his early seven to nine years with Ustad Bande Ali Khan, until his father again sent for him. After initial training under Ustad Zakiruddin Khansaheb, Ustad Ziauddin Khansaheb went away to Udaipur and joined the Royal Court as a musician and also as the guru ofthe then Maharana . Although primarily a vocalist he had a passion for the Rudra Veena which he played in private. He could very easily play the rudraveena and sing at the same time demonstrating all the finer nuances. He also had exception command over the 'Swarbheds ', the intervals of a single note which were seven in number. He also exactly not only knew the palce of a particular interval but also knew how to bring about the beauty of a particular raag.  one evidence states that on an  occasion in a concert Ustad bade Ghulam Ali Khan became his Ganda Bandh shargird and then sang the concert. at a Lahore conference in 1946. His style of singing was forceful yet somber. He was a Sanskrit Pandit himself and his interest in the Sanskrit grammer led to a whole new wave of reconstructing phrases that was not achieved earlier . Ustad Ziauddin Dagar put together the Dagarvani along with the immaculate presicion of the cutting of the phrases of the rudraveena keeping in mind the grammar of the words and the swaroop of the raga and took it to another level. This  brought to light the Saadharani Geeti as mentioned in the Sangeet Ratnakaar. This he achieved because of his profoundness in the Shastras and his quest for knowledge. He meticulously incorporated the essential elements of the other four Geetis which is the hallmark of Sadhaarani  Geeti . Ustasaheb now achieved a form which was complete in all aspects of Dhrupad singing.

He was also renowned for his mastery over tala, and sang the Dhamar in a style that was especially demanding for the pakhawaj accompanist. One could see the 'sum' or the first beat of the Dhamar approaching from a distance in his masterful improvisations on this tala. He used to be called 'Dhamarnaath' or the King of Dhamar. He passed on this legacy to his sons Ustad Zia Mohiuddin and Ustad Zia Fariduddin.

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USTAD ZIA MOHIUDDIN DAGAR, MY FATHER

 Dhrupad style, one of the oldest styles of Indian Classical music, to-day survives primarily on vocal music. The tradition is carried by only four 'Baani's (Schools), one of which is the illustrious Dagar family. The Dagar family is known for its musical exposition .Ustad Z. M. Dagar, was unique among members of his family because he performed the dhrupad style on the ancient been; an instrument that has come down from the Vedic Age .

Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar traces his ancestry through a musical family, back to the fourteenth century. He was born in 1929 , where his father was a court musician at the Udaipur Darbar. Ustad Dagar received rigorous training from his father, Ustad Ziauddin Khan Dagar in the Dhrupad style in both the disciplines , the Veena and the Vaani. At the age seven he began the study of Rudra Veena and sitar from the age of ten and gave his first Veena performance when he was thirteen, at the UdaipurPalace. After his father’s death in 1946, he left Udaipur and travelled throughout Indiabefore settling in Bombay.

In the seventies, Ustadji taught at a few Universities in the USA. The last  of them being  the University Of Washington at Seattle, where he taught many students. Some of them  are still practicing and even performing and teaching Dhrupad today. In 1977 he returned to India and continued teaching in Mumbai. In the Eighties he was invited to The Rotterdam Conservatory to teach again. This was till 1986 after which he came back permanently to teach at his Gurukul in Palaspa. Ustadji had the knack to look at a student and understand his aptitude and accordingly give him the instrument which was best suited for his nature. He also knew very well about the limitations and the pluses of many instruments , as a result he taught a variety of instruments such as the sitar, Surbahar, violin, Sur-Singar, Sarod, Flute and the Cello.

Ustadji’s main contribution was rediscovering the Rudra Veena as well as changing the tone and the playing technique to get it closer to the voice and also at the same time bringing it back from oblivion to the concert platform .The Rudra Veena which he constructed with the Kanailal Brothers at Kolkata gave Veena a new image and new life. He never took any credit for it. Once when somebody asked him about this he said "It is Goddess Saraswati's wish and command that such work be done and I am fortunately blessed that this happened at my hands ".

Ustadji also had great interest in how the instruments were made and their technical know how and how they functioned. He used to spend lengthy hours at Muraribabu Kanailal' and Hemenda's shops in Kolkata. He was exceptionally good at the Jawari [a method of filing the bridge of the instruments to get the desired tone]. This is why his Veena has an impeccable tone. It is indeed rare  in this world to find musicians like Ustadji who have totally redesigned their instrument and also played them exceptionally well.

The Kalidas Samman, The Sangeet Natak Akademy Award, The Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskaar Samman, are among the many Awards received by him.

Ustadsaheb has touched the life's of all the people who came in contact with him in very special ways and they all remember him with great respect and reverence.

He shall always be remembered as a loving father, a great friend, a philosopher, a guide, but most of all as a clear thinker and a sincere musician which was clearly evident from his music.

He passed away on 28th September 1990.

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USTAD ZIA FARIDUDDIN DAGAR

Ustad Dagar Saheb or Chote Ustad as we all know him as, was born in Udaipur in 1932.He had his training in music in both the aspects of music the voice and the Rudra Veena from his father Ustad Ziauddin Dagar who was a doyen of the Dagar tradition and placed as a Royal Court musician at the Udaipur Palace, Rajasthan. After the demise of his father he went on to learn under his elder brother Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar - the Rudra Veena Maestro.

Ustadji like his brother moved around India in search of livelihood and finally settled down in Mumbai in the early Fifties .In spite of passing through difficult times Ustadji has managed to keep the tradition of his family alive thus representing the Nineteenth Generation in a magnificent way. Ustadji's dynamic personality and his grandeur can be easily felt whilst listening to his music. Very easily one can notice that his ideas on music are not restricted, or merely come from what he has learnt under his tradition. But they are a way of rediscovering the new alongside the old. His this particular way of rendering has set him totally apart form the rest of his brothers under the same genre.Ustadji a giant in this tradition easily puts together the old and the new in such a manner of bringing together, that one can only be in awe of his complex renderings. However complex his rendering be there is also a quality of a certain  tender fragrance and beauty being attached to them. His life style clearly reflects in his music. He is a man with a large heart.

Ustadji has spent years  sincerely imparting his knowledge of his music and his experiences to various students around the world .As a result he spent time in various Gurukuls which in turn produced professional musicians to bring forward this style of singing and playing to the audiences. He spent time firstly at Innsbruck;AUSTRIA, then at Bharat Bhuvan; Bhopal MADHYA PRADESH, then at Dhrupad Sansar I.I.T.MUMBAI and now he heads the Dhrupad Gurukul.

 

 

 

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