Shyamrang is a young vocalist of ‘Kunwar Shyam Gharana’ also known as ‘Gusai Gharana’. This Gharana is well known for its Bandish or compositions. Shyamrang was a versatile vocalist. He could present forms of music like Thumri, Khyal etc effortlessly. Following is an excerpt from the interview of Shyamrang by Omprakash (Allahabad, 2 February 1993)
Q: Which Gharana do you belong to?
A: Gusai Gharana which is also known as ‘Kunwar Shyam Gharana’.
Q: It is not a famous Gharana, is it?
A: We are all ascetics, we believe only in devotion towards music. Never ever there was a question of gaining fame and limelight through music neither we thought of setting up an institution for the very purpose. They simply performed music whole-heartedly and getting completely immersed into ‘Sadhana’ hence, this Gharana remained away from main-stream Gharanas.
Q: What are the attributes of Gusai Gharana and which are the famous
and often rendered Ragas of your Gharana?
A: In our Gharana we emphasize more on ‘Meend’ which is a voice modulation technique in Hindustani Classical Music as well as the practice of ‘Merukhand’ which is often used with emotional shade. Our Bandish (compositions) are specialities of our Gharana which are in the rhythmical form which has a dance like elegance. There are strong possibilities of missing the control on the raga or losing the musical track while emphasizing on the emotions but we have the ability to maintain importance of Swara. ‘Meend’ is the underlying current or the most fundamental teaching of our Gharana. Kunwar Shyam had composed more compositions in ‘Malhar’ and ‘Kanada’ Ang maybe because they were his favourite. He had also composed many Bandish in Dhrupad and Dhamar which are mostly in common ragas like Yaman, Bageshree, Bihag, Kaafi, Des etc. In our Gharana we don’t practice more in Mandra Laya (slow tempo), because practicing more of Mandra can lead to deterioration of the beauty of the musical notes as well as the vocalist need to put more efforts to produce sound form vocal chords. Also some techniques of our Gharana require a specific type of vocal training to be able to sing complex musical patterns with ease.
Q: Your Father is a well known Musicologist, so were you into music from
A: I used to listen to him even tried to sing like him but was never completely into music. Although I didn’t love music too much, I had a deep reverence for it because it was my father’s profession. Once I had a chance to listen to his Darbari and was moved by his rendition. I got completely lost into it and started to listen it with more attention and his Darabari took over me and from that day I started to listen more and more of his music and other ragas.
Q: Do you sing only ‘Khyal’ or you like to perform ‘Thumri’ as well?
A: In our tradition we do perform Dhrupad, Dhamar, Khyal, Thumri, all form of music. Kunwar Shyam had composed many dhrupad Bandish but he had also composed many Thumris. Hence, his name was counted among the Thumri composers. He used to present a Thumri like a Khyal and could easily blend the two into each other beautifying either of the forms. I personally like to sing Khyal and not much inclined towards semi-classical forms like Thumri because it’s a different form of music but I know how to sing a Thumri.
Q: How much time do you invest into your daily studies and how do you
feel when you are not able to get enough of hands on practice?
A: I study music daily for about 3-4 hrs but if due to some unavoidable circumstances I’m not able to do so then for whole day my mood is down many a times I remain frustrated throughout the day.
Q: What is the significance of Gharana system in Hindustani Classical
A: Discipline is the first step for the development and one learns discipline in the Gharana. Teachings of our Gurus and Ustad are like sacred hymns for us. We believe in them and follow the path shown by our teachers and while following them we find our own. One can develop his or her own style and can take liberty to make amendments in them and which do happen over time. One Gharana definitely help one musician to inculcate all the basic fundamentals and discipline of the musical art form which is required for a performer to leave a long lasting impact on listeners. In this process of developing a Gharana, one automatically adds to the beauty of the music in totality.