Irreplaceable loss

Soon after the demise of D K Pattammal, the music world has been made poorer by the passing away of another genius, Gangubai Hangal. Both broke the glass ceiling of sound, hardened by tradition, with their musical calibre and dominated the world of music for over seven decades, though they practised different styles and were dissimilar in many ways. Both became synonyms for excellence — one in Carnatic and the other in Hindustani music and took their art far outside their geographical and other confines. Both also inherited great musical traditions and, contributing to them with their genius, passed on greater legacies for the future. Gangubai had herself felt that it was her duty to pass on to the coming generations what she was privileged to possess and acquire.

Gangubai, who passed away in Hubli on Tuesday, was a traditionalist and did not experiment with her medium for the sake of experimentation or for easy applause. She did not stray from the khayal style which she had mastered at the feet of her teacher. She enriched it with her individual talent and dedication. What made her among the greatest exponents of the Kirana gharana was not just her natural gifts, training and expertise but also her sincerity and feeling for the elemental sound. She was committed to the purity of music which in fact pervaded her life too. All her life she remained a simple person, unable even unconsciously to be tainted by baser sentiments and emotions.

Gangubai was born in a different milieu where customs and social prejudices did not encourage the growth of personal talent. The lack of a privileged birth and being a woman were obstacles and she had to sing her way through them with determination and verve for recognition and acceptance. It was remarkable that her early life experiences did not leave any rancour or bitterness in her mind. She lived through even personal tragedies with stoicism. The struggles actually made her a better person and a greater artist. When she came into her own there were not many on par with her. All the honours and accolades due to a great a

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