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Maestros of Jugalbandi

The tradition of Jugalbandi in the Carnatic and Hindustani styles of music is an age old one, where two skilled musicians, perform together. This duet could be instrumental or vocal.

Partnership in vocal or instrumental music has been in vogue since the day of Dhrupad. Khayal is usually sung as a solo, but there have also been numerous cases of male duo singers, usually family members who learned music together. Even when two soloists perform together, they divide the improvisation between them so that there is still only one vocal part. Their music making is co-operative, not competitive and it takes considerable skill and intimacy to create a performance to which each contributes equally. What defines Jugalbandi is that the two soloists be on an equal footing. While any Indian music performance may feature two musicians, whether vocalists or instrumentalists, a performance can only be deemed a Jugalbandi if neither is clearly the soloist and neither clearly an accompanist. In Jugalbandi, both musicians act as lead players, and a playful competition often ensues between the two performers.

It is common knowledge that the popularity of Jugalbandi concerts owes much to virtuosos Pandit Ravi Shankar and the late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Indian concert stages, which had been dominated by only soloists, assumed a new dimension around the sixties when the great musical pairs started playing Jugalbandi. However, this form was very much in existence in the decades preceding the sixties, though perhaps not as popular, thanks to Dhrupad maestros like the Senior Dagar Brothers.


K G Ginde and SCR Bhatt

KG Ginde and SCR Bhatt Hindustani classical singer, teacher, composer and scholar, Pandit Krishna Gundopant Ginde was born on December 26, 1925, in Bailhongal, near Belgaum, Karnataka. He became a shishya of Pandit S N Ratanjankar at the age of 11 and moved to Lucknow to become a member of Ratanjankar's household. S. N. Ratanjankar was then the Principal of Marris College of Music, founded by Bhatkhande. Pandit S.C.R.Bhat was one of the senior-most disciples of Padmabhushan Acharya Ratanjankar. Like his guru, he dedicated his entire life to the cause of Hindustani music, working selflessly for the propagation of this invaluable aspect of our ancient culture. After initial training in Swaragyan for two years from Pandit Krishna Bhat Honnavar, a disciple of Ustad Kale Khan of Patiala gharana, Pandit Bhat was trained in the intricacies and the finer aspects of 'Raag Sangeet' by Acharya Rantanjankar, starting at Lucknow's Marris College of Music (now called the Bhatkhande Vidyapeeth). This Guru-Shishya relationship lasted for over thirty-five years.

When K.G.Ginde arrived in Lucknow, the likes of Pandit V. G. Jog, Pandit S. C. R. Bhat, Pandit D. T. Joshi and Pandit Chinmoy Lahiri were already among the advanced students there, helping to teach beginners. Although Ginde started as a beginner in a class supervised by S. C. R. Bhat, he was also allowed to hang out in practically any lesson. Young Ginde used these opportunities well, and soon absorbed enough to count himself among the more advanced students. His performing career too started taking shape. He had also started performing in the dhrupad style in the jugalbandi format with S. C. R. Bhat, his senior co-student and erstwhile teacher. Along with Pandit K.G.Ginde, Pandit Bhat ranked among the leading exponents of Dhrupad-Dhamar gayaki.

Pandit Bhat's teaching career started at Vanasthali Balika Vidyapeeth (Rajasthan) in 1943. In 1946, at the behest of his Guru, he joined Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mumbai, as a senior music teacher. In 1963 he joined the Shree Vallabh Sangeetashram at Sion as its Vice-Principal. Pandit Ginde moved to Mumbai in 1951 to take up a teaching post with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. In 1962 he became principal of Vallabh Sangeet Vidyalaya.

For his unparalleled teaching skill and command over known and rare ragas, Pandit S.C.R. Bhat was conferred the title of "Sangeet Acharya" (Doctorate in Music) by Swamiji of Shree Vallabh Sangeetashram, Sion. He was also a recipient of the Tansen Sanman (1993) and the Karnataka Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1999-2000) amongst many others.

Two honorary degrees, the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, the Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar were some of the belated recognitions that came his way in the late eighties. Around the same time, Ginde became a visiting guru at ITC SRA, giving an intensive series of lectures and demonstrations on the fine points of raagdari sangeet and also training select students.

On July 13, 1994, Pandit Ginde had just finished a lecture-demonstration and was proceeding to the lunchroom in the company of other musicians, when he suffered a massive heart attack. Thus, he died as he lived, thinking and living in the midst of music. His passing marked the end of an era.

Despite all his achievements and knowledge, Pandit S.C.R.Bhat, affectionately called "Nand-Mam" by his disciples was a simple, almost ascetic man, dedicated to his music and teaching, a guru who gave all he had to anyone who asked for it, without holding back or asking for anything in return. He breathed his last at the age of 90, at Mumbai on February 14, 2008.

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