Today's topic is prompted by the interview of GIRIJADEVI published today. She has lamented about the erosion of purity, discipline of Gharanas in Hindustani Classical music. She is doyen of one of the Gharanas and have full authority to comment her own music being so ripe in tradition. The audience is awe struck when she performs. Effortless execution of elaborate patterns are to be heard to believe. She is no doubt speaking from experience when she says that there is so much within the tradition of one Gharana. Whole life devoted to one Gharana is not sufficient to fully fathom its range and intricacies.
A person can elaborate the style of Gharana and still find endless variety. Quality of voice, expressions make very artist within the rigid framework of Gharana independent of other masters. In fact more challenge lies in finding your identity within the traditional framework. The great disciples can become great masters only when they discover such identity. Otherwise ther is no dearth of copy cats. Two to three generations were wasted in search of ditto Lata Mangeshkar. Those who sang in different voice were able to stand up to her. Many copy Bhimsen Joshi style of voice, quick speed Tan pattern but do not last. Who wants a copy when original is available? Bhimesnji himself comes from Kirana Gharana but admittedly influenced by Faiyaz Khan of Agra Gharana. ( Not doing away with his own Gharana )
Only the rare gifted Nayaks can start altogether new Gharana. Pt Kumat gandharva could have been credited with such Nayaki but he chose to be Gayak rather than Nayak. All those Gharana like Gwalior, Jaipur, Agra, Kirana,Banaras, Patiala, Bhnedi Bazaar etc. which are popular today had been astablished not by the exponents but by the Nayaks. Sadarang, Adarang, Prempia, Pranpiya, Gunidas are some names that easily come to mind. They became immortal not due to Baithaks but due to deep contemplation on the mood of Raga that has gone into compositions which are being sung for hundred of years.
Where does it leave choice for experiment? Experiment need certain established ground rules to improve upon. Frequent changing of ground rules do not lead to experiment but to chaos. Experiment made for sake of 5 minute composition does not establish another set of ground rules and another Gharana. One composition may become popular but it does not inspire further exploration. Only one who has thoroughly mastered the tradition can imagine of setting another one.
The music needs both adhering to tradition and also experiment.