Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dr Ashok Ranade, the doyen of ethnomusicology, is no more…

Dr Ashok Ranade
India lost its leading ethnomusicology expert and composer Dr Ashok Ranade who passed way after prolonged illness in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon.

The 74-year-old’s body was brought to his Bandra (E) residence for the last rites which will be performed at the Shivaji Park crematorium off Cadell Road, Dadar on Sunday at 11am.

Born in 1937, the musicologist always pleaded for a congenial juxtaposition of traditional Indian music with a non-conditional openness towards fusion with both folk and the western genres. Deeply interested in the varied street-music of India, which he called 'authentic urban folk-music,' he went to great lengths to chronicle and research the same.

This first Director of the University Music Centre, Mumbai, held important positions in the archives and research centre in ethnomusicology of the American Institute of Indian Studies and also in theatre research and ethnomusicology at the National Council for Performing Arts.

Having learnt music under Pt Gajananrao Anant Joshi, Pt Laxmanrao Bodas and Prof BR Deodhar, this well respected sangeetacharya from the Akhil BHaratiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, he was the recipient of several awards like Phulambrikar Puraskar and was appointed to the Tagore chair in the MS University, Baroda. He also received the best music director award for professional theatre in the year 1990.

His published works include Sangeetache Soundarya Shastra (The Aesthetics of Music) , Loksangeet Shastra (The Discipline of Folk Music), 'Studies in Indian Ethnomusicology' and On Music and Musicians in Hindustan. Apart from editing, composing and compering several music albums, he also held various positions in Indian colleges. His open and precise analysis of the Indian tradition was a great stimulus for many inquisitive young Indian artists.

Well-known classical vocalist Shubha Mudgal said she was at a loss for words since she heard of Dr Ranade’s passing away. “It is a great sense of loss and grief. Though I was not a formal student of Dr Ranade, he would never hold back when it came to sharing from his immense wealth of knowledge. And it is this generosity that will always come to mind when I think of him. And this wasn’t with me alone, it was typical of him to be as generous to anyone who approached him.”

Her husband and tabla exponent Aneesh Pradhan, too pointed out, “Dr Ranade’s expertise was not just merely limited to classical music. He was perhaps the only scholar-musician to delve into the subtleties of tradition and the rapid changes in contemporary music with equal authority. His passing away is an irreparable loss to the world of music.

Director of Pancham Nishad – an organisation devoted to furthering Indian music Shashi Vyas called Dr Ranade “an encyclopaedia on any musical genre across disciplines. “Rarely do we find one man to be master interpreter, observer, researcher and analyst. Rarer still to find all this in the field of music,” he said

Santoorist Satish Vyas who is in Ahmedabad for a concert said he was shocked at the news. “No matter what the music seminar or conference, no matter who organised it, no such event could be successful without Dr Ranade’s attendance. This is a truly great loss for the entire music world. We have lost a leading expert on folk, light, semi-classical genres.”

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