Dagarvani: Dhrupad (डागरवाणी - ध्रुपद)
Dhrupad(hindi - ध्रुपद) evolved from medieval Indian classical music. Early examples include distinct compositions attributed to the legendary Tan Sen, royal court musician of the Mughal emperor Akbar (1542-1605). Dhrupad was the dominant form of classical vocal music in North India until the eighteen century when khayal (thought, imagination), a lighter, faster and more florid form gained wider acceptance.
A dhrupad performance starts with the alap, an extended melodic improvisation without lyrics or rhythmic accompaniment realizing the mood and personality of the raga. The alap has slow, medium, fast tempo (laya) phases called the vilambit, madhya and dhrut. With a customary vocal range of two and a half octaves, the alap usually begins with the tonic of the middle octave at its center.
The vocalist gradually moves to lower notes, eventually exploring the lowest notes of the lower octave, reaching a climactic point at the deep tonic of that octave. Alap is rendered without lyrics with support of syllables such as te, re, ri, ne, na, etc. to articulate the melody. Following the lower octave, the middle octave is explored in improvisations with progressively higher notes reaching another climax at the tonic of the highest octave. This gradual, progressive ascent is considered the most dramatic aspect of dhrupad alap.
The madhya laya alap introduces a regular pulse, similar to the jor in instrumental music. With this rhythmic component, the vocalist continues the exploration of the raga melody in the same octave range covered earlier, but focused more on the central octave. The dramatic effect of ascent and descent becomes more powerful with the added implicit rhythm. At some point in the Madhya laya, the pulse bursts into a faster pattern, and the dhrut laya alap begins. This section, similar to the jhala in instrumental music is dominated by the rhythmic element with increasingly more complex phrases, vocal ornamentation (including distinct heavy oscillations called gamaks), and rhythmic patterns greatly contrasting the elegant calm and simplicity of the earlier portions of alap. The chaugun usually ends with a complete gliding downwards slide through the entire middle octave to end on the tonic around which the alap began.
The alap is followed by a composition - the dhrupad, or dhamar - with poetic lyrics and accompaniment with the pakhawaj single barrel percussion drum. The bandish (poetic lyrics) is set to one the distinctive dhrupad taals (rhythm). A bandish in ten or twelve beat taal is called the dhrupad, whereas one in a faster fourteen beat taal is called the dhamar. This composition rendition begins with a straight forward recital of the fixed composition, often traditional and ancient, and usually consisting of two to four parts from a poetic text.
Once the composition has been recited, the vocalist follows it with a dramatic improvisation known as bol-bant (word-division), where words are used in increasingly complex and richly syncopated rhythmic patterns combined with the powerful cross rhythms of the pakhawaj to conclude the recitation.
We are in the process of adding new recordings and curated playlists to the media sections. The dagarvani YouTube channel is http://youtube.com/dagarvani. You can also visit it by clicking on the YouTube icon on the video here.
A wide range of archived music has made it to the internet. However, it is not organized and relatively difficult to search and listen. These pages make an attempt to create curated sections.
Additional multimedia is embedded in these recording pages, some links are also included in the listen to dhrupad section. This is still a work in progress, so your patience is appreciated and any feedback is welcome.