www.hindustantimes.com | March 17, 2019
Rewinding the years of her life, Mudgal throws light on her growing up years and memories of music
In a career spanning three decades, Shubha Mudgal, Hindustani classical singer, finds it difficult to decide the best moment. She believes that having the gift of music in her life, makes every moment a cause for celebration. On her journey so far, she says, “The study of music constantly offers new challenges and scope for improvement. I would not want to redo or change anything, but sometimes I wish I had been a more obedient student and worked harder.”
Rewinding the years of her life, Mudgal throws light on her growing up years and memories of music. “I remember a home filled with music and parents with a deep and abiding reverence for music and musicians. I remember parents hosting visiting musicians and also recall attending festivals of music in my home town Allahabad (now Prayagraj), and in neighbouring cities like Varanasi.”
Mudgal’s mother, though not a musician, learnt music and taught her several folk songs and compositions in raags. One of the first compositions she learnt from her mother was Pandit DV Paluskar’s rendition of Tulsidas “bhajan thumak chalat Ramchandra, baajat paijaniya”.
Mudgal’s forte includes the genres of khayal, thumri and dadra, as also popular Indian pop music. She was in the city to conduct a thumri workshop at Flame (Foundation for Liberal and Management Education) University, Lavale. She gave depth insights on thumri, dadra, chaiti forms of ragas, to students.
Talking about the workshop, she says, “Thumri is a vocal form in Hindustani classical music that requires specialised training. I have been fortunate to have received training in the Purab Ang style of thumri singing from my gurus Pandit Ramashreya Jha “Ramrang”and Purab Ang thumri singer and guru Naina Devi. Based on my training in this style, I am sharing the special techniques of lyric driven elaboration or bol-banao required for this form with the young participants of the workshop. Thumri also requires skilled accompaniment on tabla and melodic instruments like harmonium and sarangi. I am fortunate that accomplished artistes and gurus Aneesh Pradhan and Sudhir Nayak are also providing instruction to young tabla and harmonium players attending the workshop.”
A workshop is for a limited duration and within the allotted duration she tries and decodes significant aspects of a form of music that requires intensive training as well as years of internalising. “I have to use my years of experience to articulate concepts with as much clarity as is possible for me and point the participants in a direction that they could possibly take once the workshop is over,” she says.
Her recent project — Bridge of Dreams — represented the diverse and nuanced possibilities of musicians coming together and gave her and her husband Aneesh Pradhan the opportunity to work with Sandy Evans, a saxophonist and composer from Australia. “The three of us collaborated and composed individually for the project. This gave us the unique chance to work with the Sirens Big Band, the well- known Australian band largely comprising women musicians. Starting with workshop sessions in Mumbai during a visit to India by Evans, the project took more than two years to complete, working as we did across continents. For me, the culmination of the project, when we rehearsed and finally performed at the Sydney Festival in January this year, was nothing short of deeply enriching. Needless to say, all of us, including performers Sudhir Nayak (harmonium) and Bobby Singh (tabla), enjoyed the experience immensely,” the singer said.