Hegde excels in uttaranga-pradhana ragas, which is what he has chosen for this album
Fluent music in black two
Parameshwar Hegde, disciple of Pandit Basavaraj Rajguru and one Karnataka's foremost vocalists, sings three upward-reaching ragas in a just released album
Raga Behag, Saraswati, Sohini
9, APC Roy Road Agarpara
North 24 Parganas (West Bengal)
Parameshwar Hegde is among Pandit Basavaraj Rajguru's disciples. Hegde and Ganapathi Bhat -- who has recently set up a music academy in his native village of Hasanagi in Karnataka -- are the most widely known among Rajguru's performing disciples.
Hegde hails from Uttara Kannada district, famous for its coast and its Yakshagana performers. He first learnt music from S M Bhat and Pandit Chandrashekhar Puranikmath. From 1976, he spent nearly 15 years with Rajguru, the maestro who combined in his music elements of the Gwalior, Kirana and Patiala gharans.
Hegde now lives in Bangalore and is one of this city's foremost Hindustani musicians, with a following that includes, besides the hardcore music crowd, former chief minister Bangarappa and film stars Vasundhara Das and Jaggesh. In fact the two film stars have, off and on, gone to him for lessons. By the way, Vasundhara of Shakalaka baby fame has been singing in Tamil, Kannada and Hindi films, and Jaggesh has attempted a couple of songs in films starring himself. Talking of his film connections, Hegde was persuaded by his actor-friend Anil Kumar to make the music for a children's film a couple of years ago.
Hegde has had a classical album release under the Bangalore-based label Sagar Music, but two of his more recent albums have come out under labels from outside Bangalore. While Abhyudaya, with a fine raga Todi, was released by a Mumbai label, his latest tape (it is just called Parameshwar Hedge) comes from a Calcutta label.
In fact, both recordings were done in Bangalore, on the same day, which explains the similarity of not just the style but also the timbre of his voice. On this tape, Hegde takes up Kaise sukh sove for the vilambit khayal in raga Behag. He enjoys a good rapport with Omkar Gulvady, who anticipates many of his laykari patterns, and does a synchronised tihai with him (a flourish with one phrase repeated three times). Hegde's voice reaches out very comfortably in the upper notes, and he is conscious of this strength, which is why he does not attempt much in the mandra regions. His keynote is E flat, or black two, at least a full note higher than the C sharp that most male vocalists prefer. After the vilambit, he takes up a drut in teental, Ab to lalan mai, where he displays fluency in his fast taans.
Side B begins with Saraswati, a raga that is heard, though not very commonly, in both Hindustani and Karnatak music. It uses the teevra madhyam and komal nishad and omits the gandhar. Saraswati is again a raga that is capable of much expression in the second tetrachord. The composition Jaage more bhag is set to the seven-beat roopak tal. Hegde's rendering has a very stylised air, especially in the way he comes back to the mukhda after a round of improvisation. He then sings a drut in teen tal, Jani jani re.
The last raga on the album is Sohini, which distinguishes itself from Marwa and Puriya, ragas with the very same notes, by dwelling in the second tetrachord and leaping energetically towards the upper sa. Hegde sings a composition in madhya laya teentaal, Savaro Charavat. He is supported on the harmonium by Sudhir Naik, an artiste who has of late been part of Shubha Mudgal's fusion experiments with the poetry of Kabir, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Gulzar. (She has been singing with an ensemble of harmonium, tabla, sarangi, piano, and drums).
Till recently, Hegde taught music at a government school, but he has now quit and is a fulltime performer and teacher. He has also been active as an organiser of music events under the banner of Rajguru Smriti, the organisation he has founded. Bangaloreans are familiar with the regular concerts Rajguru Smriti has been hosting, bringing in big names and at the same time encouraging new talent. Hegde has been touring quite a bit: in the last four years he has been to the Gulf, then to the UK and more recently to the US. Hegde is open to the idea of taking up teaching assignments abroad, and may be contacted by e-mail. His website offers some information about him.
On his tours, Hegde has taken along his brother Gopalakrishna Hegde, who teaches the tabla at a college near his hometown in Uttara Kannada district. Gopalakrishna Hegde is acknowledged as a good accompanist and has been playing regularly with many well-known vocalists, especially Ganapathi Bhat.
S R Ramakrishna
80/3, Upstairs, 11th Main
Opposite Malleshwaram Railway station
Bangalore - 560 003
Published on 26 April 2003
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