someday ill be in company of all....

Friday, September 7, 2012

The music room : a memoir by Namita Devidayal

Title: The music room
Author: Namita Devidayal
Publisher: Random house India
Price: Rs 295
ISBN: 8184000545
Rating:4.5 out of 5
Source: Borrowed

Buy The music room from
Buy The music room from

This is a tribute to a teacher by a student ., Dhondutai Kulkarni is the music of Namita Devidayal who not only teaches her music but through music., she teaches her about dedication, love and finding a balance in life., This she does it through not by mere preaching but through living as an example..Dhondutai  is a disciple of legendary Kesarbhai Kerkar..The book reveals rich tradition of hindustani music and its heritage...

Before I go any further into the book I wanted to for few basics facts on Indian Classical music..Like the western music that goes with Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do., classical Indian goes with Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa..The Indian classical music has  two subgenres one being Hindustani music and the other Carnatic music., while the former is largely practiced in northern India the later is spread through Southern India...A distinct Raga (note) sung for a rhythmic tala  forms the base of the Indian Classical music...

I expected the book to be more to Namita Devidayal's account of music., though it is to an extend it is more about her teacher's dedication to music., though it turned out to be quite different...At ten Devidayal is dragged for music class much against her will by her mother....She is put off also due to the locality where Dhondutai lives surrounded by brothels, her walls outside home is all clattered by betel spit marks... The book explores on the relationship of Devidayal and Dhondutai and Dhondutai's relations with her teacher Kesarbhai Kerkar who happends to be a disciple of much accalaimed Alladiya Khan...Devidayal prefers for a swim upon music class but her mother drags her to Khondubhai Kulkarni..In those times in India it was customary for all girls to learn music to enrich marital skills (I still wonder why it was so)., though now children are taught music though not for the same reason anymore...Initially reluctant Devidayal slowly gets the hang of the classic music from her devoted teacher coming face to face with her dedication., Kulkarni stays single throughout her life for the sake of her love of music., she states one cannot have two masters as both demand too much....Devidayal also describes the true meaning of gharana and the difference between each gharana...Dhondutai was the only surviving child of  the family hence she was named Kondu to cast off the evil...Dhondutai not only teaches the art of singing but full aspect of music, its history, music as an art., its tradition and cultural heritage...Devidayal keeps her life apart from it and concentrates more on the guru-shishya (teacher student) relation., somewhere along the memoir she mentions about her job and about her relations..There are beautiful anecdotes describing musical legends ..In a world that go by worldly possession and recognition there are few like Dhondutai and Keserbhai who live for the love of art without any kind of expectation., and this is that sets them apart from the regular crowd gaining respect...Another important fact is emphasized on clearly that no music can be learnt from books..There has to be a teacher who can guide you through., Dhondutai teaches Devidayal two important part of music one is breath control and another to throw voice., both she mastered from Jaipur gharana... Through everyday converstaion between Dhondutai and Devidayal the reader gets to bite sweetness of the knowledge of music....While Kesarbhai Kelkar was a legendary Hindustani singer of 20th century, passed on to Dhondutai  and she stayed with her till her death in 1977...Though the book the depreciation of wealth for the singer as there are no more people around to appreciate the talent..Even Dhondutai is able to retain the success of Jaipur gharana that soared sky during the times of Alladiya Khan and Keserbhai Kelkar...Dhondutai's present house itself explains a lot about her finance ., yet she is content and happier than anyone Devidayal has come across..Her life is music and it stays that way until her death....Glimpses of Mumbai life is also scattered through like the travel is local trains, instant friendship among the passengers, the busy streets ., people rushing to get home and to work., slow modernising city....Devidayal writing is an absolute treat that keep you engrossed throughtout ..This book is a must read for all who wish to get a glimpse of Indian music and its heritage....

Book 19 for SAC

1 comment:

  1. I love your commentary on this one VB.

    As you note, This sounds fascinating as it seems to explore the concepts of art and music as it applies to lives. It seems to parallel a lot of my thinking on these subjects.

    Thanks also for your little lesson the Indian Classical music. The differences from Western music are intriguing.


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