Friday, June 20, 2014

India's Voice of Dhrupad mesmerises Fes Festival

The voice of one of India's oldest singing traditions Ustad F. Wasifuddin Dagar captivated the audience during his performance of dhrupad music at Musee Batha 

Ustad F. Wasifuddin Dagar is a 20th generation dhrupad musician. Originally Brahmin, the family converted to Islam some six generations ago. Their artistic traditions have been passed from father to son over the centuries and have led to a deep devotion to authenticity and purity of form.

Dhrupad was the dominant form of classical vocal music in North India until the eighteen century. This form of music stems from one of the great Vedic traditions of Northern India and relies upon improvisation inspired by its relationship with the audience to create a meditative state of mind.

Dagar explained to the audience the relationship between dhrupad music and Sufism. He said Sufism is about the moment and if one lives through the moment to achieve the moment then that is Sufism. He related that to today's concert and he asked the audience to pray the moment will be good so they can enjoy a good time with him.

The captivating drummer

During the concert, Dagar pointed out that the voice is an instrument and the lungs are the biggest instrument of all.

The performance included the alap, a melodic improvisation without lyrics. The audience was left mesmerised as the voice of dhrupad music sang softly to a simple beat, then slowly picked up the pace using an increasingly complex and rhythmic pattern.

Dagar was accompanied on the tanpuras by his sister, Qamar and Laurence Bastit and by leading pakhawaj player Pandit Mohan Shiyam Sharma.

Text: Stephanie Kennedy
Photographs: Vanessa Bonnin, Joel Dowling 

The View from Fez is an official media partner of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

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