A Dhrupad workshop by Nirmalya Dey

on Sunday 30th June at 4 pm in South-West London
Duration: 3 hours - Rates: £20 per participant (concession: £12)
Booking: Sargam-Tel: 020.7731.4153

Dhrupad is one of the most ancient existing forms of classical music in India, and its vocal technique is the basis of North Indian classical music. This art form encompasses the techniques of producing heard and unheard sounds, and its practices can elevate any singer's vocal and hearing skills through a natural process.
(Nirmalya Dey trains students, among others, who are professional singers in medieval and baroque chant in Paris.) Nirmalya Dey will give a short lecture demonstration on the salient features of Dhrupad in the style of the Dagar school, and will initiate the students to some fundamentals at the basis of this vocal art:

1) principles and practices of tuning the tanpura (drone instrument) and hearing the harmony and overtones from the instrument;
2) breathing technique and perceiving sound resonance in the body;
3) methods of articulation to produce vowels and syllables in different registers with different intensities;
4) basic exercises to develop the voice;
5) producing tonic shades which pave the way to establish the mood of the melody;
6) technique of alap or unfolding the melody;
7) principles of presenting the song text (composition or bandish) and its improvisation (upaj) with different rhythmic patterns.
Participants will be allowed to record the vocal exercises but not the lecture-demonstration.

India’s most ancient vocal art

Nirmalya Dey sings and teaches Dhrupad - the most ancient form of Indian classical music, a music with a unique, complex and comprehensive vocal technique unmatched in the world today.

This extraordinary interiorised, profound vocal technique of ancient India used in the incantaion of sacred texts, (became incorporated into the Dhrupad style around the 12th century – dates run into debates but that is besides the point ), moulds the human voice into a powerful instrument for singing in the most natural and subtle way. It is indeed the YOGA of breathing and of sound emanating from the different chakras of the body- serving to unfold the beautiful Ragas –marvellous musical modes with their incredible micro-tones ‘shrutis’( unique to India) inscribed in the melodic compositions of early Saint-Sufi composers.

This incomparable antique technique in which Nirmalya Dey has controlled mastery, of Indian origin perhaps, is a natural yogic voice technique, universal in its means and applications. It can enlarge any singer’s vocal aspirations without artificially deforming the human voice. ( Nirmalya Dey trains students, among others, who are professional singers in Gregorian Chanting in Paris )

This inimitable singing technique has been gifted to Nirmalya Dey through the Dhrupad style of music by a member of the reputed Dagar family: Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar.

Dhrupad is a very ancient art of sacred singing in India. It used to be practised by an initiated élite, generally of the upper castes, in and around Hindu temples ( and also courts) until the advent of the Mughal rulers. The arrival of muslim kings transferred this art partly to their royal courts and to their singers.

The Dagar family, issuing from these exceptional court singers, highly reputed for their knowledge of the art of Dhrupad singing, have played a preponderantly precious role in guarding and transmitting this timeless vocal tradition. Nirmalya Dey has been fortunate in having been thoroughly trained in the art of Dhrupad for 20 years by one of the most generous and open minded Gurus of India – a great musician of this epoch : Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar.

Steeped in this timeless tradition, Nirmalya Dey’s vocation for teaching is exemplary, his pedagogical skills and patience in the art of the traditional transmission of this art are outstanding amidst his generation

Nirmalya Dey has already toured several countries performing as well as teaching. Gifted with a deep rich voice his poetic sensitivity to the beauty of this music charms his audience. His rigour in the development of the Raga, precision in undereling the ‘shrutis’ – microtones, and integrity in presenting the architectural structure underlying the Dhrupad compositions, have marked him out as a faithful exponent of this age old art.

Nirmalya Dey’s spontaneous dedication to this sacred musical tradition with his humble sincerity in serving the art of his forefathers, his deep involvement in learning and research, and implicit joy in faithfully transmitting a great old tradition, make him an exemplary exponent of a timeless singing technique. His musical attitude is in total harmony with the oldest principles of traditional canonic art, as inscribed in the ancient texts of India such as the ‘Natya Shastra’ . Nirmalya Dey is bent on generously sharing this knowledge, (in gratitude for whatever he has learnt through the remarkable generosity of his own Guru ) contributing and participating the world over by way of singing and demonstrating, lecturing and teaching these priceless musical vocal skills to those eager to listen and appreciate, understand and even learn.

Commentary : Usha SHASTRY,
Lecturer in Indian Languages and Civilization in Universities in France.
E-Mail : ushataranga@wandoo.fr