Listen in to a tabla legend
The legacy of tabla maestro Ustad Habeebuddin Khan, who possessed an exceptional command over the bayan (the larger of the drum pair constituting the tabla), will be revisited in a guided listening session in the city, today
Ustad Habeebuddin Khan, the musician, who was regarded as one of the best exponents of Ajrada gharana (one of the six main traditional schools in tabla drum), not only had a great command over the techniques of accompaniment but was also a noted soloist.
To bring alive the magic of Ustad Habeebuddin’s performances, Sudhir Mainkar, an eminent scholar-musician and a known name in the world of tabla, will conduct a session, Nad Ninad. “Ustad Habeebuddin Khan is my Dada Guru (teacher’s teacher). My guru is Pandit Sudhir Kumar Saxena from Baroda and his guru was Ustad Habeebuddin. Thus, because of my guru, I was able to learn the various intricacies of tabla performances by Ustad Habeebuddin, and also his personality,” informs Mainkar, who had also conducted a listening session on tabla legend Ahmed Jan Thirakwa sometime back.
The 75-year-old reveals that although Ustad Habeebuddin is a name to reckon with in the Indian music circles, his popularity is not widespread in Mumbai. Hence a session like this will help create awareness about his legacy and contribution
“Earlier, I had conducted guided sessions on Ahmed Jan Thirakwa, who is very popular all over India. He is a known personality. Ustad Habeebuddin is equally great but he mainly lived in North India. He rarely visited Mumbai. Therefore, his performances have not been heard by a majority of people in Mumbai. There is a curiosity about his tabla performances here. Keeping this in mind, I have planned this session in a manner that people get to know a lot about him and his music,” informs Mainkar.
The session, will not just include the tabla recordings, but will also entail interesting anecdotes about him and an explanation of his style of music. “There will be some audio recordings of Ustad Habeebuddin’s performances, which I will explain, for people to understand. He was very fond of explaining elements as he performed. Those interesting comments will also be part of the recordings,” he elaborates.
“Apart from that, I will make people know about the genius of Ustad Habeebuddin, his exceptional sense of aesthetic and his greatness as a soloist, an accompanying artist and also as a successful guru. I have interesting anecdotes to share as well,” he adds. Mainkar, who wrote a book, Aesthetics of Tabla, has been training since the age of 15. He is grateful to and has been inspired by Ustad Habeebuddin, who he began listening to in his youth: “When I started playing tabla seriously, there were three great tabla artists — Ahmed Jan Thirakwa, Aamir Hussian and Ustad Habeebuddin. As tabla students, we called them Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Hindu Gods).”
“Tabla is the most suitable accompanying instrument. All tabla artists have to learn the skills of accompanying but simultaneously, great thinkers and composers felt that tabla is not just an accompaniment instrument. You can create parallel music on tabla, which will be as effective as vocals. So, today all over India, lakhs of students are learning solo tabla,” — Sudhir Mainkar
On: Today, 6.30 pm;
At: Dance Theatre Godrej, NCPA, Nariman Point.