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K.G. Ginde
K.G. Ginde

Melody forensics

Scholar-vocalist K.G. Ginde of the Agra gharana transcended gharana loyalties in his comprehensive study and analysis of ragas

Hindustani classical music has always been considered a guru-mukhi vidya, or a system of knowledge transmitted orally from guru to disciple. Listening to the guru’s voice singing raga-specific phrases, and trying to imbibe them gradually, usually over a span of several years, has been an accepted pedagogic method among teachers and students. However, there have also been scholar-musicians who have made in-depth analyses of ragas, compositions, and gharana specialities and are acknowledged and revered for their wisdom by gurus and disciples across gharanas. When their wisdom is committed to print or recording technology and published, valuable reference material becomes available for students of music.

Scholar-vocalist K.G. Ginde of the Agra gharana transcended gharana loyalties in his comprehensive study and analysis of ragas, compositions and singing styles. It is said that his photographic memory enabled him to memorize a jaw-dropping 2,500 compositions which he could present at any point without having to refer to notations or notes. Consequently, vocalists and instrumentalists across gharanas and styles consulted him and sought his guidance to enhance their own study. He was also invited for many lecture-demonstrations on themes related to Hindustani classical music. Fortunately, these invaluable discourses have been recorded, digitized and published by Meera Music, a label established by his son Ajay. Available in the MP3 format on compact discs, the 38 themes that Gindeji lectured on include his masterful analyses of ragas in different categories, for example Kalyan angraags, Sarang ang raags, Kafi ang raags, to name a few. Rajan Parrikar describes the concept of raag-ang succinctly on his website (www.parrikar.org/hindustani/kalyan): “The raganga is akin to a DNA blueprint containing the key ‘instructions’ for the melodic conduct and gestures of the entire class of ragas under its jurisdiction. Alternatively, it may also be viewed as a summary, a generalization of melodic ‘observations,’ analogous to a generalized theory or a law in science, which may then be brought to bear in specific situations." Gindeji’s lectures on raag-ang themes make it possible for a student to actually hear and imbibe from a single lecture the DNA of each raag-ang raag and its many mutations in allied ragas from the same gene pool.

His lecture demonstrations also delineate other valuable themes such as the stylistic specialities of Ustad Faiyaz Khan and the Agra gharana, the compositions of S.N. Ratanjankar, from whom Gindeji received instruction, the contribution of Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, and the concept of time theory in Hindustani classical music, whereby specific hours in the diurnal and nocturnal cycles are prescribed for each raga. These themes are bound to have been explored by different scholars and authors as well, and therefore other perspectives too would certainly be available for interested students. But this set of MP3 recordings is priceless, for it brings together analysis supported by demonstration.

Could one say then that a student could learn from these MP3 recordings independent of a guru? There is no substitute for a guru, but once a guru prepares a student and equips him or her with the ability to reference study material, these recordings could play a vital role in equipping a student not just with information about ragas, but also the method of analysis, assimilation and research used by a gunijan such as Gindeji.

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