On the evening of Monday January 23, 2017, I had the opportunity to see Pandit Nirmalya Dey & Ustad Bahauddan Dagar perform Jugalbandi Dhrupad for the Dover Lane Music Conference in Kolkata, India. The picture above was taken during the performance. As you can see, they were accompanied by two tanpura (If I were in Italy that would be tanpuri right?) and one pakhawaj player. They were the second performance of the evening following on the heels of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, a mighty task indeed.
The Dhrupad began a little before 11:30 PM. The performance commenced with the Alap for the raag Jog. Jog is a raga that is played during the late evening. In the past, I have experienced a mystical sort of feeling when taking in this raga, which aligns with its time of day and its supposed characteristic as a raga with a magical quality. Although Jog is pentatonic in both its ascent and descent the ga that is used differs. During the ascent, it contains a shudh ga while it contains komal ga in the descent.
The nature of the two instruments, the voice and the rudra veena, played a large role in determining the unfolding of the performance. It began with Nirmalyaji often taking the lead and Ustad Bahauddin following. As is characteristic of jugalbandi, the two performers took turns playing, each time continuing the unfolding of the raga where their colleague had left off. Given that the veena and voice have such different tonal qualities, this performance sounded often like a conversation.