Listen: An imagined recreation of a Mumbai jalsa with ‘God Save the Queen’ sung in Gujarati in 1887


The first week of June this 12 months noticed 4 days of celebration within the United Kingdom as a end result of festivities that marked the Platinum Jubilee or 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II because the British monarch. Several Indians within the United Kingdom participated within the celebration and Bollywood music and dance performed an essential a part of their choices on this event.

But historical past informs us that this was not the primary time that musical choices have been made by Indians to have fun a British monarch’s lengthy years of service. In reality, a particular music live performance was held in Mumbai again on February 15, 1887, to have fun the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne of England.

The programme was organised below the aegis of the Parsi Gayan Uttejak Mandali, in all probability the primary formal music membership to have been established within the metropolis. It had been arrange in 1870 to popularise the training and efficiency of Hindustani music amongst Parsi households.

During this era, nascent nationwide consciousness amongst a lot of the mental elite together with social reformers, with just a few exceptions, was tempered by an overriding perception that colonial rule was “divine providence”. This perception was amply mirrored in particular musical gadgets that have been introduced to precise the Mandali’s loyalty to the British Crown.

For occasion, in 1882, a National Anthem Committee was set as much as set up God Save the Queen because the National Anthem in India. This was to be completed by partaking particular Indians to translate the anthem in varied native languages.

In Mumbai, novelist, playwright, and journalist Kaikhushro Navrojee Kabrajee, the founding father of the Mandali, had translated the anthem into Gujarati and it had been sung on a number of events and as a part of the Mandali jalsas or programmes.

As a part of the National Anthem Project, his Gujarati model was sung at a operate held on the Framji Cawasjee Institute within the presence of Sir James Fergusson, the Governor of Bombay.

Credit: Gayan Uttejak Mandali, Bombay, 1887.

A few years in the past, this column tried to reimagine a live performance that the Mandali had organised in 1890, based mostly on info offered in a programme be aware pertaining to it.

Today, we attempt to recreate the primary jalsa held by the Mandali on April 28, 1871, which concluded with the Gujarati model of God Save the Queen. The repertoire introduced on that event as represented within the compendium printed in 1887 and talked about earlier consisted of assorted kinds like dhrupad, khayal, chatarang, tappa, ghazal, thumri, dadra, hori, lavni, pada, garba, and tillana.

The compositions in these kinds have been in several raags, specifically, Yaman Kalyan, Jhinjhoti Pahadi, Kalyan, Jhinjhoti, Kalyan, Jangla, Khamaj, Bhupali, Todi, Kalingda, Kanada, Asavari, Bhairavi, Des, and Pilu.

A report on the Mandali actions entitled Gayan Uttejak Mandali: Teni Poni Sadini Tawarikhno Ahewal, printed by in 1946, offers a listing that’s at variance to the one given within the compilation of 1887. The report states that the live performance was divided into three sections and included 36 compositions.

Instrumental ensembles that included Indian and Western devices have been featured and readings from Dickens and a Gujarati textual content have been additionally amongst the numerous displays. I’ve mentioned elsewhere the doable causes for together with so many numerous kinds and raags in Hindustani Music in Colonial Bombay.

For us to get a flavour of what this mixture of compositions would have seemed like, here’s a number of tracks which have been recorded nearer to our occasions. We start with the primary dhrupad that was introduced on that event. On the next observe, maestros Nasir Mohinuddin Dagar and Nasir Aminuddin Dagar current an in depth aalaap adopted by the composition set to the 12-matra Chautaal within the raag Yaman.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t discover tracks comparable to lots of the compositions that have been introduced on this event. But here’s a hyperlink to one of many two Ingraji gayan or English songs that have been sung.

The inclusion of Indian and Western devices within the Mandali programme and the big variety of compositions that even featured English songs, could come as a shock to these of us who imagine that intercultural musical experiments are a current phenomenon.

The info offered within the Mandali compendium means that the Hindustani vocal compositions have been interspersed with people repertoire and the English songs. I’ve, subsequently, chosen to comply with this with a presentation of the raag Bageshri Kanada by Amir Khan, the famend founding father of the Indore gharana.

He sings a vilambit, or gradual composition, that was sung on the Mandali live performance. The compendium lists this composition as a Kanada with none prefix, however it’s usually accepted by Hindustani vocalists as a khayal in Bageshri Kanada. Amir Khan sings the composition within the 14-matra Jhumra and follows it with a drut, or quick composition, set to the 16-matra Teentaal.

Since we don’t have a observe of the Gujarati model of God save the Queen, we conclude with a brief recording of the unique observe accompanying the coronation ceremony of King George VI in 1937. The Gujarati translation was sung to the identical melody.

One of India’s main tabla gamers, Aneesh Pradhan is a extensively recognised performer, trainer, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his web site here.



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