Khayala Vocalism: Cpmtinuity within change presents stylistic perspectives on the music of nineteen modern and contemporary Khayala vocalists, representing various legacies which have guided vocal music for about 200 years. The book is the result of over five years of research, involving the painstaking analysis of over 500 recordings spanning almost a hundred years of Khayala vocalism. The nineteen vocalists are classified into five stylistic legacies, based on their history of tutelage and the stylistic tendencies evident in their music: Agra legacy, Gwalior- Agra confluence, Jaipur-Atrauli legacy, Kairana legacy, and Patiala legacy.
Written by an author of impeccable credentials as a musician, researcher and writer, the book contains seven sections. While the first section serves as an introduction to the Khayala genre and to the various Gharanas, the last presents an annexure containing the various Khayala forms, a glossary of non-English terms rendered in italics, and an index. The intervening five sections deal with the history and stylistics of the five legacies and the music of the vocalists belonging to them.
The book makes complex musicological concepts accessible to non-academic readers and contributes significantly to widening the understanding of contemporary trends in Khayala vocalism.
About the author
Deepak Raja [b: 1948] is amongst the most respected writers on Hindustani music today. He works as Repertoire Analyst for India Archive Music Ltd. New York, the most influential producer of Hindustani associated with the academic and publishing activities of the ITC-Sangeet Research Academy, Sangeet Natak Akademi, and the Indian Musicological Society. His first book: Hindustani Music: A tradition in transition was published in 2005. In 1999, he co-edited a volume titled Perspectives on Dhrupad for the Indian Musicological Society.
The author, a musicologist is a sitar and surbahar player of the Imdad Khan/ Etawah Gharana, and studies Khayala under Vidushi Dhondutai Kulkarni of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana. Deepak Raja took an honours degree in Economics, Philosophy, and political science from Delhi University, a Master's degree in business administration from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a post- graduate diploma in advertising administration from the Watford College of Technology in Hertfordshire, UK. He has occupied important positions in the media industry, including editor of business India, and Secretary General of the Indian Newspaper Society.
This books present stylistic perspectives on the music of nineteen contemporary and modern Khayala vocalists representing some of the major stylistic traditions, and covers almost a hundred years of vocalism. These perspectives have emerged from my work as repertoire analyst for India archive music Ltd. [IAM], New York, between the years 1996 and 2005.
The literary product of this association appeared to possess value independently of the recordings it was originally intended to accompany. Some facets of this work have been published in Sruti, the performing arts monthly published from Chennai, and elicited an appreciative response. It seemed a worthwhile effort, thereafter, to conceptualize, recast, and rewrite all available writings on Khayala vocalism in the form of a book for reaching a winder audience.
In some respects, this book is a companion to my earlier book: Hindustani music: A tradition in transition. The earlier book contains detailed backgrounders on the four major genres of Hindustani vocalism- dhrupada, khayala, thumari, and tappa. For the reader's convenience, the chapter on khayala from my earlier book is reproduced here as an annexure. However, this book also deals with the stylistics of gharanas, and with individual musicianship. This required a shaper conceptual- analytical approach to the genre. I have, therefore, written here a fresh chapter titled "Defining the Khayala Genre", This chapter functions as a summary introduction to the khayala, and aims at sharing with readers the conceptual tools directly relevant to appreciating the book.
Many readers will look askance at the selection of vocalists covered here. The selection was determined by the publishing arrangements contracted by IAM and assigned to me for documentation. Cannot, therefore, be subjected to a test of historical significance. The selection does, however, reflect a substantial degree of discernment, and spans a wider cross-section of musicianship than commonly covered by authors on Hindustani music. As a result, it delivers valuable insights into the recent interplay between continuity and change in khayala vocalism. The big picture emerging from this selection defies easy conceptualization. But it is, I submit, more faithful to the socio-cultural reality than one that a purposive study of only landmark vocalists might have delivered.
The original purpose of interpreting the music of vocalists covered here was ostensibly "promotional." You are, therefore, permitted to suspect that the essays on individual musicians are essentially laudatory and uncritical. If, however, you permit the book to reveal its honesty, which may often surface between the lines, you will encounter writing that is sympathetic descriptive, analytical, and without the remotest resemblance to advertising.
Either because of this, or despite this, it is expected that many readers will disagree with my interpretation of the stylistic tendencies of the vocalists covered. Several musicians- or their admirers- will also be displeased with what I have said about their music. This won't be the first time, or the last time, that critical writing will have met with such a response. It is a risk I accept without harbouring any delusion that my share of disagreements and annoyance will be smaller than that of others in my profession.
An important caveat to the observations in this book relates to the stage of life and performing career at which each of the vocalists has been studied. Each essay in this book has been documented for when it was written. Wherever possible, I have also documented the approximate period from which the sample recordings were drawn for study. In writing the essays, I have also been particular about pointing out the stage of life-cycle issues relevant to the understanding of the music. These aspects require your special attention, so that neither you, nor I, may be held guilty of misinterpreting a vocalist's musical personality.
The book, like all other works of this nature, is vulnerable to the bias of the author's stylistic preferences. Your only protection against this is the author's disclosure. Through the choices I have made as a student of music, and those made by members of my family, I have developed a special relationship with the music of the Kairana and Jaipur- Atrauli traditions. You may use this knowledge to judge the reasonableness of my observations.
This book is, essentially, neither about individual vocalists, nor about gharanas of khayala vocalism. It is about continuity and change in khayala vocalism. This focus appeared to warrant the grouping of vocalists into appropriate stylistic legacies. I have done so, knowing that a few classifications are debatable. The necessity of classification, and its controversy potential are, both, reflections of the contemporary socio-cultural reality.
The stylistic hallmarks of the gharanas have largely lost their grip over contemporary khayala music. Despite this, contemporary vocalism has identifiable antecedents, and the link with the past- however tenuous and diffused- needs to be acknowledged. I have dealt with the gharana phenomenon in elaborate detail in my earlier book. In this book, I have tried to explain my point of view, in brief, with a chapter titled "Stylistic Legacies in Khayala Vocalism".
. While the legacies provide a backdrop to the understanding of the general stylistic tendencies of vocalists, the analysis of musicianship must reckon with several dimensions which are individualistic. The framework for this appreciation is provided in a chapter titled: "Stylistic Perspectives on Individual Musicianship".
For understanding khayala stylistics, I have drawn generously upon significant recent literature on musical aesthetics, and Hindustani vocalism. In accordance with publishing protocol, every idea or perspective attributable to a known source has been referenced. In order to keep the book reader-friendly, I have appended the numbered list of references to the introductory section of the book, while the body of the text merely carries the number of the reference cited.
Conforming to publishing conventions, all non-English words and terms have been italicized. The glossary at the end of the book attempts to explain all words in italics, especially to the reader unlettered in the Indian languages.
This book makes no claim to scholarship. In fact, I do not know if it belongs to any known genre of literature, It represents my way of interpreting what I have heard, and my way of sharing what I have understood. I place it in your hands in the hope that it will prove itself worthy of your time and attention.
Deepak Raja's second book is a comprehensive study of khayala vocalism through the stylistic analysis of nineteen contemporary vocalists. It is informed by the concept of "continuity within change," an approach which embraces "style" as the confluence of traditional gharana stylistics, contemporary non-gharana based stylistics and each artiste's individual stylistic contribution. "Continuity within change" is thus seen as an essential underpinning and strength of all Hindustani classical music, not just vocal music, and to a great extent responsible for its vitality and continued enjoyment by successive generations.
The expansiveness and thoroughness of Deepak Raja's investigations are immediately apparent as he lays out the parameters of khayala vocalism drawing on notable scholarly sources to further document his analysis and make the case for his view of the elements that constitute khayala vocal style. With similar attention to detail, Deepak Raja provides an overview of the stylistics of each gharana intimately tied in with the crystallization of each gharana's style by the music of the seminal artiste of each gharana, before delving into the analysis of individual contemporary artistes.
Seriousness of intent and comprehensiveness are to be expected, and as noted above, Deepak Raja has more than fulfilled expectations. But, the presentation of an incisive method of analysis coupled with clarity of vision in its use is rare. Deepak Raja has always had a special interest in the presentation structure of khayala vocalism. He has developed and expounds a critical approach based on the metaphor of architecture and uses it to great effect in his analyses, first identifying and delineating the basic Khayala structures in use and then, after distinguishing sculpture (the shape of a phrase) from its ornamentation, goes on to make a critical assessment of their usage. Writing on vocalists from both unique and varied stylistic backgrounds, Deepak Raja shows his method to be a valuable analytical tool applicable to all of them as a means of identification and comparison. This is a concise, well-considered methodology of comparative analysis, the brilliance of which is that its simplicity of application generates extensive results.
Equally valuable and fascinating are Deepak Raja's interviews with the artistes: he has a facility for extracting from each artiste an intimate and revealing portrait in words. These interviews together with the stylistic/ structural analyses provide an unparalleled and integrated overview of each artiste's life and musical life as a khayala vocalist, and of the state of contemporary khayala.
It is personally gratifying to me that I was in the position to nurture the development of Deepak Raja's thoughts on the various aspects of khayala music into a cohesive and integrated critical assessment of khayala vocalism and khayala vocalists. I am particularly pleased that Deepak Raja has been able to extrapolate so much from the diverse group of vocalists that I have chosen to record, a group that does not include many of the most famous names, but does include a fair share of less known and virtually unknown artistes. Artistry of a high order and thoughtful individuality mark both the artistes examined and the resulting examination.
There is nothing quite like this wonderful book in my experience of Indian classical music analysis.
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