+

I was fortunate to learn from great, generous gurus: Shubha Mudgal

I was fortunate to learn from great, generous gurus: Shubha Mudgal Shubha Mudgal, the queen of Khayal and Thumri, is also a Padma Shri awardee. She shared her musical journey with ‘The Daily Guardian’. Excerpts Q. Can you tell us about your musical journey and what inspired you to become a singer? A. I am […]

I was fortunate to learn from great, generous gurus: Shubha Mudgal
Shubha Mudgal, the queen of Khayal and Thumri, is also a Padma Shri awardee. She shared her musical journey with ‘The Daily Guardian’.

Excerpts
Q. Can you tell us about your musical journey and what inspired you to become a singer?
A. I am a first-generation musician because my parents were not from a family of khandaani or hereditary musicians. However, they had learned music and were keen listeners. Thanks to their passion for music, I got the opportunity to learn music, and it was with their constant support and encouragement that I was able to make a full-time commitment to studying music. I was also fortunate to have learned from great and generous gurus, namely Pt. Ramashreya Jha “Ramrang,” Pt. Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya, Pt. Vasant Thakar, Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki, Pt. Kumar Gandharva, and Smt. Naina Devi. It is with their guidance and training that I was able to become a singer.
Q. You have explored various genres of music, including classical, semi-classical, and contemporary. How do you balance and draw inspiration from these different styles?
A. It is not unusual for musicians to specialize in one form but also have an involvement with other forms of music. If you look at the history of Indian film music, you will find that some of the greatest exponents of Hindustani classical music also engaged with film music, often as composers or as recording artistes for film music. My gurus too had a keen interest in several forms of music, and therefore, it was natural for their disciples like me to inherit a curiosity and interest in other forms of music as well. I have, of course, remained firmly anchored in the study of Hindustani music, even though I have occasionally sung popular music and the occasional film track.
Q. Could you share some insights into the challenges and opportunities for artists in the digital age, especially with the rise of streaming platforms and social media?
A. While it has become much easier for artists to record, publish, and distribute their work independently through digital platforms that offer equal opportunities to anyone who wishes to make use of their services, the truth is that these digital services too are controlled to a large extent by larger, powerful music labels. Therefore, on a conceptual level, I can today record music independently and publish and distribute it as I wish, but banner spaces on most streaming and distribution services will be controlled by mainstream labels.
As for social media, it does offer everyone the chance to post, create reels, and share work with followers, but in the race to gain more followers, one may have to compromise on quality and gravitas.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians, especially those who are looking to make a mark in the field of classical music?
A. I am not really qualified to give anyone any advice. Besides, there is no formula available to make a mark in the field of music. All I can suggest is that they follow the instructions of their mentors and gurus, and also follow their heart in making music that they believe in.
Q. How do you maintain a strong connection with your cultural roots while embracing contemporary trends in music?
A. As someone living in today’s world, I try to keep myself informed about new trends and listen to music constantly. However, I remain committed to the study of khayal and thumri, the two vocal forms I have been studying for decades.
Q. Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives that you’re particularly excited about and would like to share with your fans?
A. I have just finished curating Jackfruit 2023, a festival of music for children by Bhoomija Trust in Bengaluru, and that was a deeply challenging and satisfying experience. I came away feeling enriched and having learned a little more. Now, in October 2023, I have many concert opportunities and travels ahead that I am looking forward to.
Q. What role do you believe music plays in fostering cultural exchange and understanding, both within India and on the global stage?
A. In an ideal situation, music is a great medium for cultural exchange and facilitating learning about other cultures and systems of music. However, this exchange and learning can happen only when the artists are open to learning and follow a process rather than treating the opportunity as a mere concert opportunity.
Q. Tell me about your performance in Parampara, and is this the first time you are performing with Raja Radha Reddy ji?
A. This is not my first performance in the series. If I remember correctly, this would be my second or third performance in the Parampara series. I am also not performing with the wonderful Raja Reddy ji, Radha Reddy ji, and Kausalya Reddy ji. I have been invited by them to perform khayal and thumri, and they are the hosts and organizers.

Tags: