Ashwini Bhide Deshpandey Part 3 A Conversation with the well known artist from India

Bologna, Italy - 11 November 2008

by Sunil Deepak

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Sunil: How is your mother’s relationship with your daughter? Has she taught her grand daughter also?

Ashwini: Not really, sometimes, off and on, yes. My daughter is very musical in the sense that she can repeat something that you tell her to repeat. So in that respect, she sits with her grand mother but not as seriously or as rigorously as a student would.

Ashwini Bhide Deshpandey Sunil: I think that it is sometimes difficult for children to see their parents or their grand parents as persons in their own right, you just see them as your parents, and it needs something special to make us see them differently?

Ashwini: Between me and my mother it so happened that she discovered the teacher in her when she started teaching me. Until then, as I told you, she was a disciple to her guru. When she started teaching me she realised that she can teach really well, in the sense that she had a teacher, a guru inside her. After me, there has a series of students that she has trained, a very good quality of students.

Sunil: When did you decide to take up music as a career? Compared to other singers, it was sooner or later in life?

Ashwini: Later! I had already completed my PhD and at that time, I was already giving concerts. But I had always treated music as a second priority as long as my PhD was going on. At that time, I was already married and I remember telling my husband (Mr. Rajendra Deshpandey), “Look I have never considered music as a priority in my life and I want to try making it a priority after I finish my PhD. I want to try to do full time music for a period of one year, and I asked him if he was ok with it, of course he said he was ok.

I took that one year away from science and I never returned back to science after that. My pursuit is music. I have a feeling that you must have your own capacity to walk, to pave your way and to walk on your own. If I had not found myself to be capacitated enough to pave my way and to walk on it, I would have gone back to science.

I had to find my way in that one year. This was back in 1990. So what started as one year, I never went back, and it has been 18 years now and I am still walking on my way.

Sunil: Do you talk to your husband about that decision and if you can go back, would you still take the same decision?

Ashwini Bhide DeshpandeyAshwini: No, there is never any chance to talk of that decision. I have been really blessed. I am not saying that I have been blessed with concerts, or name or success with a career in Indian classical music. But I have been really blessed that I can see the road under my feet and I can pave my own way, I can see right on the road that I am walking on, and I enjoy doing it.

Sunil: Are there any spiritual meanings of music for you when you sing?

Ashwini: I am not a very spiritual person although people look at music as being very spiritual. On the other hand, I feel that it is very therapeutic for me, it is soothing, it is meditative and contemplative, and it is something that gives me joy in the end. I am not into spiritual pursuits and I don’t have a spiritual guru and I don’t read a lot of spiritual discourses and those kind of writings.

Sunil: But it is very obvious that like what you do. Like yesterday, when you were singing, it was very clear that you were enjoying yourself. Can we talk about your book?

Ashwini: (shows her book “Raag Rachnawali”, Rajhans Prakashan, 2nd edition 2005 - 1st edition 2004) You can’t say that I have written a book, because it is about compositions with notations. The book was blessed by Pandit Ravishanker ji. This book is dedicated to my mother and it has pictures of the release function of the book, it was released by Ganasaraswati Shrimati Kishori Amonkar ji. It also has a CD, so that persons can listen to these compositions also.

Sunil: Let us go beyond the music and talk about the books you like? You must be having a life outside music also?

Ashwini Bhide DeshpandeyAshwini: I like to read books, I like biographical books. I am very slow in English reading but I read Marathi literature with lot of interest. I like to write also. Perhaps I should have brought that, a scientific article where I have talked about music and science, science within music and science for music. It was published in a journal of Marathi Vigayan Parishad, so it is in Marathi and is about scientific aspects of music.

I have talked about “shrutis”, what is it that makes the Indian music different from the rest of the music, that is shrutis, the levels of ... we have shadaj-pancham samvaad like Sa to Pa is like 2 is to 3. So Pa is 1.5 times Sa. Thus if I am making shadaj-Pancham samvaad, which is the most basics of samvaad, you do it in a raag and you respect that difference. For example, if I have a Rishabh then its natural samvaad will be Dhaiwat, because it is Shadaj-Pancham again. For certain raags if Rishabh is komal then its Dhaiwat must also be komal, because it has to maintain the Shadaj-Pancham samvaad.

If that komal Rishabh in a raag like Shree is slightly lower in shruti then accordingly, the komal Dhaiwat will have to be lower in shruti. Maintaining this samvaad is very essential and is the foundation of Indian music.

I have also spoken about the science in Taanpura, why is Taanpura such an integral and important part of, not just vocal music, but it is an essential part of all Indian classical music. It gives a sursagar. I have spoken about this function of Taanpura.

Sunil: Taanpura is the only music instrument that I can play because it is so easy.

Ashwini: But have you ever heard Taanpura?

Sunil: Not really, probably I take it for granted. (Continue reading the next part of the interview: Part 4)