Smit Dharia

Archival and Museum Fellowships

Grant Period: One year

Smit Dharia is a student of Hindustani Music and has been visiting the Saptak Archives regularly. He believes that listening to the old exponents is absolutely essential for learners of music as well as for those aficionados who are listening to music for the very first time. Often the listening experience of the music of the old exponents is marred by the poor quality of recordings. Also, when the public has no contextual understanding of how and when this music had evolved they are unable to appreciate its beauty. Smit’s proposal is to make accessible and available to the general public the recordings of select old exponents of Hindustani Music through short audio/video podcasts. These podcasts will present recordings from important pieces of music, together with explanations on its background, context and information on the life of the musician. Thus the listener will gain insights into the biographies of musicians and gharanas as they learn to appreciate this music.

For the fellowship, Smit will initially familiarise himself with the music available at the archive and then make a selection for the podcasts. Some of the themes he has proposed are, the musicians of the Bhendi Bazaar gharana, the varied personalities in the Agra gharana, the different approaches to taan in the Hindustani Khayal tradition, and composition and improvisation in Hindustani Khayal. Smit will limit the length of each podcast to about 40 minutes and he hopes to make three to four podcasts during the fellowship period.

In addition to the podcasts, Smit will also arrange ‘listening sessions’ at Saptak around a selected artist, raag, or theme, that would be beneficial to both the listener as well as the students of the Saptak School of Music. As Gujarati is his mother tongue, he hopes to reach an audience beyond the English-speaking one. Thus Smit hopes to build a community of informed listeners through his podcasts and sessions.

The Fellow’s deliverables to IFA with the final report will be the podcasts, audio recordings of listening sessions if possible, process images, texts, and a publication, if any.

This fellowship is supported by Tata Trusts.