Serenity Of Santoor

Pandit Ulhas Bapat


About this album

Ulhas Bapat is not a new name to the Hindustani classical recording industry, his first recording was published about six years ago. Ulhas Bapat's return to the classical recording fold is befittingly marked by the presence of his first music teacher. Ramakant Mhapsekar, who provides rhythmic support in this cassette. For it was with him that the artiste began his music career when he started tabla lessons at the age of five. He progressed gradually to learning the khayal gayaki under the tutelage of his father and the exposure to the santoor took place a few years later. It was a chance acquaintance out of which were forged the bonds of the present lasting relationship between instrument and artiste.

The instrument that Ulhas Bapat plays on carries his own modifications in that all twelve chromatic notes of the octave are pre-tuned. This enables the artiste to move from one raga to another instantly without spending time over the tuning keys, a practice that can prove irksome to a concert audience. Ulhas Bapat has also patented the modifications he has made on the tongs he employs. These pioneering changes in design allow him to execute the meend stroke, a device which he uses discriminatingly for heightened effect and embellishment of note phrases. For his continuing musical development, Ulhas Bapat has sought guidance from Zarin Daruwala, the noted sarod exponent for many years now.

Two ragas and a dhun have been rendered. The first side has the Gujri Todi and the artiste's alapchari strikes an emotive chord that is imbued with serenity, a quality that has always been associated with this raga. The alap unfolds the main characteristics of this morning melody through note formations that the tongs of the santoor bring out with elegance. The Jod and Jhala note patterns follow, both fine examples of intricate workmanship in the building of the raga structure.

In the Vilambit Gat the development is leisurely yet well defined and controlled. The maturity of the artiste is seen from the manner in which he undertakes excursions away from the pakad of the raga without diluting the essence of its meaning. The Drut Gat is presented in a similar disciplined fashion and despite the faster tempo it is a well-knit piece, almost purposeful to the note. The concluding Jhala is rendered with dignified restraint even as the artiste winds up the raga with the traditional climactic end.

The second side opens with the lilting Hansadhwani. After tracing the vivacious nature of the raga in the alap, its romantic qualities emerge in the Vilambit Gat. This imagery is carried right through into the Drut Gat which the artiste concludes with a Jhala of good natured buoyancy. The second piece on this side is a dhun which begins with a poignant alap. The ensuring main composition embodies a series of wave-like note patterns which are underscored by the choice of Dadra taal. Even after the cassette has ended, the waves roll on because the music haunts.


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