Where the soil, air & peda help the vocal chords

Sunanda Mehta pays an excellent tribute to Dharwad, the meeting point and melting pot of Hindustani and Carnatic music, in The Indian Express:

Madhav Gudi, 66, is a senior disciple of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Sitting on the chatai in his small home tucked away in a bylane in Dharwad, he dwells on his rich hoard of memories.

“‘I first heard my guru in Kundgol at Sawai Gandharva‘s house where he sang from 10 pm to 4 am. I was nine then. Mesmerised, I followed Panditji to Pune where finally he consented to take me on as his disciple, provided I finished my matriculation. I did that and stayed at his house for six years and learnt from him,’ says Gudi.

“He fondly remembers the times Pandit Bhimsen would drive down from Pune to his house at Dharwad at midnight, ask him to open a spare room on top and tell him to sing from night to morning, long after the shishya had emerged as an artist of calibre himself.

“The guru-shishya relationship is, in fact, almost a way of life at Dharwad. ‘People here feel their child should know music. Music tuitions are taken almost as seriously as other school subjects,’ says Vasant Karnad, violinist, music critic and actor Girish Karnad‘s brother, who along with his wife Sunanda, now lives in Dharwad after spending 40-odd years of his working life in Mumbai.

“‘People here have a music sense. Concerts go house full. In Kannada we call it manninaguna—that is it’s in the soil. Now the tree cover is not even 25 per cent of what existed at one time. In fact if you went at a height you could only see trees, no Dharwad. Maybe that oxygen level was good for vocal chords development. Who knows?’ says Karnad.”

Read the full article: Notes from Dharwad

Also read: From Dharwad, India’s best shehnai player today

Only for those who follow Dharwad Kannada