ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC
At the Dept. of Music, Faculty of Music and Fine Arts, University of Delhi, we are proud to look at sixty years of effectuating the strategies of adapting our classical music from the traditional Gurukul system to that of the university system. The conceptual foundation was laid by Dr. V.K.R.V. Rao, the famous economist and former Education Minister, who was also the Vice Chancellor of this university at the time of its inception. With the aid of an endowment fund from Sir Shankar Lal Foundation, the Department of Music, University of Delhi, was instituted in the year 1960. The translation of the concept into reality was commenced by pioneers such as Prof. R.L. Roy, Shri C.S. Pant, Shri Pran Nath, Prof. V.V. Sadagopan, Smt. Ambujam, Shri Debu Chaudhuri and Shri V.K. Aggarwal, along with staff artistes - Shri Chhamma Khan, Shri Faqir Chand and Shri Ram Swaroop. They were followed by Ustad Yunus Hussain Khan, and thereafter by Vidushi Prof. Sumati Mutatkar as the Dean & Head, Faculty of Music & Fine Arts, University of Delhi. It was under the inspiration of Prof. Mutatkar, and with Yunus Khan ji as the first Choir Director, that the Department started the ‘Sargam Choir’, a vocal and instrumental ensemble, in 1971.
Started with a modest batch of twelve students of Hindustani music (both Vocal and Instrumental) and Karnatak music, (only Vocal), the Department was initially situated at the Barracks at the back side of Miranda House. Since then, it has expanded to over four hundred and fifty students at its current location, just at the intersection of the University road and the Mall road, next to the Sir Shankar Lal Concert Hall in the North Campus of the University. During this period, the two main disciplines of music in India, viz, Hindustani and Karnatak music have grown parallel to each other in this Department. With the passage of time, new courses were introduced. In 2013-14, B.A. (Hons.) in Hindustani music - Percussion (Tabla/Pakhawaj) was introduced, followed by M.A. in the same in 2016-17, with its M.Phil. starting from 2018-19 onwards.
The Department has constantly been in the process of enhancing the skills of our students, which leads to an increase in their productivity and output. Keeping these in mind, the Department has always strived to innovate and introduce new courses from time to time. Starting from 2008-09, the Department has introduced special courses, which are job-oriented in keeping with the objectives of the University. Many Diploma and Short-Term Courses have been introduced to fulfil this purpose. A Two-Year Diploma course in Harmonium was started in 2015-16. In 2017-18, the said course and the decades old Sangeet Shiromani Diploma Course of two years’ duration, were restructured from the Annual to the Semester mode, in tune with the main undergraduate and post graduate programmes.
The Department has also introduced Short-Term Courses in many genres, namely Tabla, Harmonium, Santoor, Thumri-Dadra, Post-Pallavi compositions in Karnatak music, Veena, Violin and Mridangam, as also Journalism and Sound Engineering: Techniques and Equipment. Thus, at present, the Department conducts B.A. (Hons.), M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes in both Hindustani and Karnatak music, Diploma and Short-Term Courses of six months (Advance) and four months (Certificate) duration in the aforesaid and other genres; as also One Year Certificate Course for Foreign nationals in both Hindustani and Karnatak music.
With a sanctioned strength of forty one teachers and contribution of noted personalities, artistes and music lovers, the Department has seen many fruitful and prosperous years with rapid development. Equal emphasis is being laid on both theoretical knowledge and practical orientation. Music being a performing art, emphasis is laid upon Oral Tradition within classroom teaching. Noted experts are being invited regularly to share their knowledge with the students. We have the proud privilege of having many reputed artistes, both in the past and at present, in our teaching faculty, who have been a guiding force for our students. No wonder, quite a few of our alumni are performing artistes with Radio and TV grading, while others are placed in eminent positions in various universities, colleges and many government and private organizations.
One salient feature of the infrastructure of this Department is its vast and well- equipped library with several wings. It has recently been upgraded into being partly automated. The reading and lending section of the library has around 16,000 books, some of them are very old and rare, and providing valuable source material for regular as well as research-oriented study. The Braille section for the visually challenged has a large collection of 304 Braille books and relevant material transcribed into Talking Books, which is made available to the students in the form of CDs. The audio section has a listening room and lending facilities for over 2,200 cassettes and CDs. Students are encouraged to listen more and more, so as to absorb the finer nuances of this great art form.
Apart from this, a separate Computer section with internet connection, printers and e- material facilities has been set up for the benefit of the teachers and research scholars. Two computers, fitted with the JAWS software, are allocated for the differently-abled visual students. While developing the deep-rooted base for Indian classical music, the main aim of this section is to encourage everyone to be acquainted with growth, development and research of music worldwide.
The Department has a Museum too, displaying old and rare instruments with their history so as to provide a valuable source of data for researchers. At present, the studio is upgraded with an archival section, where priceless archival music of stalwarts and connoisseurs of music, recorded earlier at the Department, is being made available to students and teachers.
The lending and reference sections of the Library, as well as the Museum, is fitted and monitored with CCTV cameras. All of the 16,200 books and 2,300 Ph.D. theses and M.Phil. dissertations have been entered into the ‘Troodon’ e-resource subscribed by DULS, and can be accessed online through the Troodon Library Management Software (version – 4.0) link – http://dulsopac.du.ac.in/catalogue.aspx
The Department is proud to have had on its rolls, students from not just India, but also from abroad, such as the U.S.A., Japan, China, Mauritius, Thailand, Iran, The Netherlands, Kuwait, South Korea and Fiji, as also from neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Department also enjoys the distinct achievement of regularly conducting Short Term courses for the students of the Soka University (Japan) and UCLA (U.S.A.) as the MOU has been signed between them and the University of Delhi. There has also been an exchange programme with the Thummasat University (Thailand). In this sense, the Department can rightly claim to have attained a unique status vis-à- vis expanding the horizons of Indian classical music far outside of our borders. As the saying goes, music has no boundaries!
Music being foremost, a practical art, special attention and continuous stress is laid on achieving excellence in performance, not only amongst the students, but also upon the teachers as well. In order to orient them with the fine art and nuances of performance, the Department organizes concerts from time to time, where teachers and students alike are given a platform to display the richness of their talent in the league and company of national-level artistes, who are invited to perform. One of the prime concerts organized every year is the Malhar Utsav to celebrate the spirit of the rainy season with varieties of Malhar ragas. Another notable concert series is the ‘Sadhyayan’, which is a baithak (seated on the floor) organized by the Department from time to time. The Department also provides a regular forum for Lecture-cum- demonstrations and workshops, which includes a vast variety of programmes in the vocal, instrumental and percussion fields of both Hindustani Music and Karnatak Music. Supportive teaching and interaction with experts enhance the regular classroom teaching programmes.
The Department celebrates the annual festival of Vasantotsav (Saraswati Puja) with zeal and vigour, which is well attended by renowned artistes, scholars and the university community. After seeking the blessings of Ma Saraswati through traditional Puja, including the Pushpanjali, toppers of the annual Inter class competitions, teachers and staff artistes pay homage to Ma Saraswati - the goddess of learning and knowledge - through seasonal ragas, depicting shades, essence and fragrance of the Spring.
The Department lays stress that the students, upon entering the field of career-making, should be adept at the theoretical aspect of music as well as the practical side. Keeping this in mind, the Department organizes National/International level seminars under the Special Assistance Programme of the U.G.C., and sometimes in collaborations with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (I.C.C.R.) or the Sangeet Natak Akademi, as the case may be.
In the last five years, the Department has organized two International Seminars, one of which was organized in collaboration with the ICCR, on 27-28 February 2018, titled – “Indian Classical Music: Teaching and Performing Abroad” at the Conference Centre, University of Delhi. It was attended by experts from the USA, The Netherlands, Mauritius, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. This was followed the next year by a two-day National seminar titled – “Aesthetical manifestations of Raga and Tala in Indian Classical Music: The Contemporary scenario” on 22-23 October, 2019 at the Conference Centre, University of Delhi.
The Department is indeed privileged to have had over the years, some illustrious names in the field of music as panellists for the seminars, such as Padma Bhushan recipients - Prof. S.K. Saxena, Pt. Debu Chaudhuri, Vidushi Shanno Khurana, Vidushi Kapila Vatsyayan, Pt. Birju Maharaj; Sangeet Natak Akademi award winners such as Pt. L.K. Pandit, Vidwan T.R. Subramanyam, Vidushi Leela Omchery, Vidushi Krishna Bisht, Pt. Vidyadhar Vyas, Pt. Bhajan Sopori and many others. They have shared with us all, the wealth of their knowledge and experiences, which have greatly benefitted one and all.
The Department also brings out its research journal – Vageeshwari. Started in 1986, the journal has completed a glorious journey of 34 long and musically enriching years. The journal is a treasure house of knowledge, which encourages scholastic outpouring of information and innovative ideas in the field of research in music. It publishes proceedings of the Departmental seminars, as also research papers and articles contributed by eminent musicologists, teachers and research scholars both from the Department and other institutes in India. Vageeshwari is an ISSN numbered journal (0975-7872) and has been uploaded on the Journal’s portal of the UGC in 2017.
Along with workshops and Lecture-cum- demonstrations, the Department started a new series of audio-visual shows and film shows. The Department has conducted Audio- video shows on leading personalities like Pt. D.V. Paluskar, Ustad Allauddin Khan, Vidushi M.S. Subbulakshmi and Ustad Ahmad Jan Thirakwa, which were presented by the concerned subject experts. A film on the life and work of Ghazal Queen – Begum Akhtar, and one on Gwalior gharana, were shown in the Department. In the month of March 2018, a four day workshop on the making, repairing and maintenance of musical instruments, viz. Tabla, Sitar, Tanpura and Mridangam, was organized in collaboration with the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi. This is a unique feat in the history of music in the the university system, as such a set of workshops on four different instruments, was organized for the first time ever.
Studying in the Department of Music, University of Delhi, is a truly different experience for the students. This is because on one hand, the students pursue their concurrent courses, while on the other hand, they also learn the traditional art forms of Indian classical music from a unique institute, which is a mixture of an age-old education system, i.e. the Guru-shishya parampara and institutionalized modern education system. The atmosphere of teaching-learning is indeed that of an extended family.