Pinnacles of purity
As per the ancient treatises, there are four styles or vaanis in the singing of dhrupad and dhamar. The highest form of the vaanis is regarded as the Goberhaar (Gaurhaar), the Suddha or the purest of all the vaanis. It is considered to be the king among the vaanis. The next in order of hierarchy is the Khand Haar vaani, regarded as the commander. While the Dagur vaani is supposed to be the dewan, or the prime minister, the Naurhaar vaani is the finance minister,
Satinath Bhattacharya is a follower of the Goberhaar or the Suddha vaani. As such, there is no over ornamentation in his renderings of the dhrupad or the 12-beat Chautal compositions that are rendered without any rhythmic variations or display of arithmetic permutations. The composition is just rendered with purity in style by singing all the four sections of it (sthayee, antara, abhog, and sanchari) without delving into any form of rhythmic variation that is more like a plain and simple chanting of a hymn. It is in the rendering of a dhamar composition in which the singer enters into a `battle royal' with the pakhawaj player, thereby displaying each other's rhythmic prowess and challenging their capabilities.
This evening was his first public recital after her wife's demise, so dedicated this particular recital to her memory.
One however wished the singer had selected a dusk-time raga instead of the late evening's raga Bihag, which he however rendered with good musical insight. The various stages in the raga's alap-jor contained scores of musical variations with many a soothing melodic strain that fell pleasingly on the ear. The 12-beat composition of Mian Tansen, "Uttan Guni" was rendered with tunefulness, and as expected, in the manner of the chanting of a hymn.
His next rendering in the raga Bageshwari was also rendered with a brief alap-jor and followed by a dhrupad composition ("Gopinath, Gopi Raman"), which too was rendered without entering into any form of rhythmic variations. However, it was in the dhamar composition ("Sakhi Suni Murali) that the singer displayed his commendable rhythmic capabilities by executing several rounds of complex variations and entering into intricate rhythmic dialogues with the pakhawaj player, Apurb Lal Manna, a disciple of Delhi's pakhawaj maestro, Pandit Dal Chand Sharma.
Satinath wished to conclude his recital of the evening with a charmingly rendered dhrupad composition in the raga Adana ("Maharani, Mahakali"), but the audience, comprising several leading musicians such as Ustads Asad Ali Khan, Fahim Rahimuddin Dagar, Wasif Fyazuddin Dagar, and Pandit Dal Chand Sharma, requested the artiste to sing some more, to which he complied by rendering a brief alap and a dhamar composition in the raga Kedar ("E Maayee Ri, Shyam").
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