Dhrupad Fantaisie


Dhrupad – a compound from Dhruva (the fixed star) and Pada (a musical composition) – is the oldest form of Hindustani Classical vocal music and traces its origins to the recitation of vedic hymns and mantras from almost 2000 years ago. In the 16th century it became famous at the Mughal courts of North India where it developped to a highly appreciated classical art form. Its main features are Alap – a raga improvisation in three sections – and compositions in various talas (rhythmic cycles). Dhrupad can be seen at different levels as a performing art, a meditation, a worship, a mantric récitation and as yoga over sound.


Fantazy or Fantasia was a popular form of polyphonic composition for Consort – an instrumental or vocal Ensemble – in the Elizabethan era of England. It rooted in the art of improvisation and its form and invention sprang „solely from the fantasy and skill of the author who created it“(Luis de Milán, 1535–6). Its earliest appearances in a musical context focus on the imaginative musical ‘idea', however, rather than on a particular compositional genre.


An essential of the fantasia is its freedom from words. The musician was free ‘to employ whatever inspiration comes to him, without expressing the passion of any text' (MersenneHU, 1636–7). Also in Alap – the main improvised part of Dhrupad – no words are used but syllables, parts of mantras that give shape to nada – sound. How else could a modal based vocal tradition be combined with harmony then over a form free from words and to the sound of a family of viols who was said to bet the closest instrument to the human voice?


Phantasia or fantasie origins in greek and middle English meaning a mental image, an idea or making visible, a showy appearance – the process by which all images are presented to us. Aristotle defines phantasia as „our desire for the mind to mediate anything not actually present to the senses with a mental image“ and encourages to use ones imagination to create the fantastic, unordinary images.


“Dhrupad Fantasia" is the imagination of creating a wondrous fancie, a visionary idea or illusion to bring together raga based improvisations over the idea of polyphonic instrumental music both rooted in the art court music of the 16th century.


Hathor Consort