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masterclass

Don't parrot, perform

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Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.

For someone whose grandfather regarded music as the easiest path to hell and damnation, Buddhadev Dasgupta has come a long way. Ranked among the foremost musicians of the country, the Kolkata-based sarod maestro will be in Delhi not just for one of his rare performances but also for a three-day interactive session in which he will "teach students how to generate musical expressions in different ragas".

The session, he says, will focus on both afternoon and evening ragas. "While evening ragas are aplenty, it's the afternoon ragas that have me worried because there are not too many of them," laughs the 80-year-old musicologist, whose lecture demonstrations are much sought after by music lovers. "I like to reach out to both instrumentalists and vocalists, teaching them to construct ragas and taans (a virtuoso technique used in the vocal performance of a raga). When someone starts out, there are innumerable pre-composed taans that he or she has to learn and memorise. But, when they are musically grown-up, they can start composing taans in any raga. I want to help and encourage this lot to increase their faculties in this direction rather than parroting pre-composed taans."

Having grown up in a "rather-stern household with no musical lineage", the Padma Bhushan recipient's initiation into music took place soon after his civil-servant father was transferred to a small town north of Kolkata - Rajshahi (now in Bangladesh ). "It was there that I met my guru, Radhika Mohan Maitra, who was not just a big landlord of the area but, as the disciple of Ustad Md Amir Khan of the Shahjehanpur gharana, was proficient on the sarod," he recalls. With his father's encouragement ("since he was not averse to music"), Radhubabu took the 10-year-old Buddhadev under his wing.

Under strict instructions from both his father and guru to also focus on his studies, Dasgupta went on to become an engineer. "My 32-year-old professional life with Calcutta Electric Supply was harsh and very anti-musical," he states. "A good musician is formed by a lot of riyaaz (practice) and great taalim (musical training). I would not have come very far had I not been a very stern disciplinarian (vis-a-vis my own self), and this was possible only because of my love for the sarod."

Long fascinated by aspects of Western classical music, he is an avid listener of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and the other masters. "Some of their expressions held my fancy, and I have even applied them to my music, " he says. Music lovers will get a taste of this over the weekend.

For details, visit www. habitatworld. com

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