The decline of Dhrupad had begun with the disintegration of the Mughal Empire. By the time of India’s independence, Dhrupad was often described as “a museum piece”. The revival, such as is evident, was fuelled by the following Dhrupad acquired in Europe, starting from the mid-1960s.
By the end of the 20th century, Dhrupad vocalism could boast of a small group of musicians who were credible at home, but were dependent overwhelmingly on the Western market for their livelihood. Never before has a genre of art-music been pronounced dead in India, experienced so shaky a revival with home audiences, and become popular enough with alien audiences to become so largely dependent on them. This makes Dhrupad one of the cultural enigmas of cultural anthropology.
The Indian Musicological Society decided to take a look at Dhrupad, and asked me to edit a contemporary survey of Dhrupad for its Journal. Of the various interviews I conducted as part of the study, the one with Prof. Ashok Ranade in August,1998, was eminently rewarding. I present here the recordings of that interview in two parts.