Dhrupad Preservation Project 2015 Year 1 Report
27th January 2016
This report outlines the progress of the project in the first year. We have listed all the project outcomes which includes events, exhibitions, teaching heritage (Bhatkhande Method) and reported on our various international activities as well. The team of volunteers has also grown, with expert help in marketing, fundraising and events management which has been outlined. Finally, an overview of the performance side and its development has also been included.
1. Events – Workshops, Performances and Exhibitions
One of the HLF Project outcomes is to deliver 25 Workshops/Exhibitions around the UK over 2 years. We are happy to report that our team has completed 26 events in Year 1, and it looks likely we will deliver around 50+ events at the completion of this Project. Below is a list of all 26 events delivered in Year 1:
We have given workshops, exhibitions and performances at various venues such as auditoriums, theatres, festivals, schools, colleges, universities and various community events. At every event we informed visitors about the support the HLF are giving us and ensured the HLF logo was visible in the Exhibition.
Some of the highlights of the year included opening for famous groups and reaching out to large audiences; the Nihal Show BBC Asian Radio Network 600,000 listeners; ‘Mirabai Ceiba’ at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill 1000 listeners and singing at Alexandra Palace to over 3000 people. The other 23 venues were approximately 4,000 people.
Internet and Social Media views were approximately 250,000.
Even though international performances were not part of the project, we appeared on documentaries, radio shows, social media and other TV programmes and estimate that the audience number for this was in excess of 100,000 people.
We estimate our audience reach for the first year was approximately 1 million people.
Our UK events totalled approximately 80 hours which consisted of continuous singing, talking and exhibiting. This is the equivalent to 3 continuous days.
Below are a five pictures from various events over the year:
The Heritage Exhibition included rare instruments and manuscripts, and was taken to schools, community centres, colleges, universities, etc. From approximately 1000 evaluation forms we received mostly positive feedback. On a personal note, I was happy to see children’s faces lit up with excitement as they played with the instruments. They enjoyed looking at the pictures on the exhibition boards and learnt about the different ragas and rhythms and various Dhrupad compositions. The visitors were made aware that this heritage is very rare, and if not preserved, it is in danger of being lost forever.
3. Bhatkhande Method
From the spools our volunteers listened to the music and notated it. One of the outcomes for the first year was to teach volunteers the Bhatkhande Method. This is a unique methodology used to notate and teach Indian Classical Music. However, it can be quite difficult to comprehend if you do not have a basic understanding of this music or the correct instruction.
The method firstly requires the understanding of the rhythm of the composition being sung, and then to count the number of beats involved. Next, the Raga or Indian
Musical Scale needs to be identified. There are hundreds of Ragas, most of which can be categorised into ten basic ‘Raga families’.
The Project Manager is an expert in this methodology and presented two academic papers at two University Conferences (Imperial College and Warwick University) about the Dhrupad Preservation Project. Some of these people have become volunteers and will be helping notate (using a spreadsheet template) the 50 tracks for the forthcoming book. Given that the project outcome was for only 15 people to be taught this method, we are quite pleased about this achievement.
On a separate note, the Project Manager also taught the Bhatkhande Method to a further 100 people at European workshops last year.
We have had help from over 50 different volunteers. They were given classes on planning, marketing, researching, events organisation, the Bhatkhande Notation and they assisted on exhibitions and workshops. We also had five extra volunteers who are learning Indian Classical Music help out at exhibitions by giving taster sessions and demonstrations. Volunteers also assisted with designing the exhibition boards and helped showcase the antique and new stringed instruments for the exhibition. As a direct result of our workshops and exhibitions we had new volunteers join the PCA.
5. Problems encountered with Workshops and Performances
We had to deviate from the original schedule due to date changes and venue availability. However, we managed to double the number of events for the first year of the HLF Project, and have actually completed one of the main outcomes, which was to deliver 25 workshops/exhibitions over 2 years. As stated earlier, we are pleased to report that we have completed 26 in 1 year.
The first batch of Exhibition Boards were produced in March 2015, however, the quality turned out to be sub-standard and they broke after only a few events. As we were unable to secure funding from the Arts Council we were unable to hire a Van to transport the exhibition pieces. This meant the boards had to be packed tightly into a car, which contributed to their wear and tear. The boards were then redesigned and samples were shown to the Steering Group in August 2015. The Steering Group endorsed the new design and were happy for them to be reproduced. Sample pictures of the new boards can be referred in the pictures that follow:
6. International Workshops
Although this was not funded by the HLF, key members of the Project Team also made over 30 trips around the world in Year 1 to deliver workshops, talks, exhibitions and music performances. The countries visited were France, Germany, Holland, India, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda and the USA. Their most memorable trip was when they taught this musical heritage to orphaned street children in Uganda with the charity One-Step-At-A-Time. This was at the charity base in Lira, at local schools and in villages deep in the bush. These underprivileged children had never seen instruments like these before nor heard this type of music. The teachers and parents were very grateful and supportive of our music project and they have invited us back this year. One teacher told us that “the children here live a very tough life and for a few minutes today, your music bought a smile to all their faces! You have made a real difference, thank you so much for coming!” We will be doing an event in April this year with this charity who are based in Northampton.
The total number of hours (UK and International trips) for talks, performances and exhibitions/workshops were approximately 240. To put this into some kind of perspective, this is equivalent to 10 whole continuous days. This excludes separate performances by our Tabla players which would double this figure.
7. Arts Council Grant
We applied for approximately £100,000 grant from the Arts Council for the performance side of this project, which was to be in conjunction with the HLF grant. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful, despite getting an assessment of ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ for most of the sections of the application form. The feedback we received was that other applications had much higher audience numbers. It was unfortunate that the BBC Radio appearance was booked after we submitted the form which would have boosted our total audience figure by 600,000.
One major issue which has become more and more prevalent on each performance is the lack of our own sound engineer. This was to be funded by the Arts Council. We have had very poor sound quality due to this reason which has affected our performances and workshops.
A part of this grant was to cover the cost of hiring a van for transport, other musician fees and purchasing brand new instruments. As we did not receive this funding, the quality of the project will not be completed to the high standard we would have hoped.
We are now re-applying for this grant and have set the submittal date for the end of February 2016, with our first Arts Council performance scheduled for June 2016. This Grant will cover performances over a two-year period.
8. Researcher Post
Unfortunately, we only received one application for the part-time Researcher post to study manuscripts in the British Library and Cambridge University on this music. This person was not qualified and we actually found it very difficult to find someone suitably qualified from the UK, mainly due to the requirement of knowledge in several Indian languages as well as detailed knowledge of Indian Classical Music. Therefore, we were unable to recruit from the UK.
Fortunately, we found an excellent researcher called Sher Singh in India, who is fully conversant in Panjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Braj, which are all languages required to adequately research these ancient manuscripts. Sher Singh is also an outstanding exponent of Indian Classical Music and is able to grasp the complex subtleties of the musical compositions contained within manuscripts. He has been visiting various Universities around India as well as liaising with different Maestros of this music.
Giani Manjit Singh from Entebbe, Uganda has taken over from Sher Singh in India as the primary Researcher. Sher Singh had other commitments which meant he was not able to continue with the research in India. Manjit Singh is one the foremost classical performers of this music in Africa and is currently employed in Entebbe as a full time singer and music teacher. He will be assisting with the writing of the forthcoming book and research of manuscripts. He will be assisted by some of our volunteers here in the UK who have some experience in research methodologies. We are looking into bringing him over to the UK to research the manuscripts.
9. Digital Re-mastering
The tasks pending from 2015 such as digitising cassettes from Sirensound, training in digital re-mastering for volunteers and transferring the 50 Tracks on-line and depositing the 30 original cassettes into the British Library Archive, has been completed. Ensure that other tasks set for 2016 such as Oral History training with the British Library and interviews with Maestros of this music are on schedule. Actioned by Harminder Singh.