Gangubai Hangal?s concert of life ends- Entertainment-Media / Entertainment -News By Industry-News-The Economic Times Gangubai Hangal’s concert of life ends 22 Jul 2009, 0046 hrs IST, Manoj Nair, ET Bureau NEW DELHI: Music and Makhania Kuan in Patna. What do they have in common? As a stumbling kid, this correspondent discovered the commonalities while cycling around three parallel roads in Patna during Durga Puja nights. Makhania Kuan was one of them (Govind Mitra Road and Khajanchi Road being the others) where Gangubai Hangal stole the night away from the other stalwarts — Pandit Ravi Shankar and N Rajam — performing across. Her vocal renditions eventually coalesced into a voluptuous, full-throated love song. What more would a young boy on the threshold of teens ask for than a full physical release of tonality where the gender differentiator in a voice collapses. Ironically, Gangubai Hangal was undergoing treatment for a chest congestion and a respiratory clog; and her departure comes close behind the demise of another doyen of Indian classical music DK Pattammal. May be they whispered songs in each other’s ears. Gangubai’s voice was magically masculine. Not out of providence, but as great masters wish it, she willed it to be so. When a throat operation changed her voice, she said: “Now it is closer to my guru’s voice.” Her guru was none other than Sawai Gandharva or ‘Second Celestial’ who bridged the divide between North and South. Sawai Gandharwa was instrumental in converting a quaint place like Dharwad in North Karnataka to an abode of Hindustani music. His practice inspired and left behind younger masters such as Mallikarjun Mansur, Basavaraj Rajguru, Bhimsen Joshi and, of course, Kumar Gandharva. Gangubai was the only woman in that group, who never asked any questions, but for raag Bibhas that she sang for a radio programme with a changed note. She was chided for that variation by her guru. She continued singing khayal unlike others of her time from the kirana gharana. However, Hangal was, perhaps, the last representative of a generation that valued tradition and simplicity over show. She had been singing publicly since the late 1920s after her first concert in Kolkata where Kundanlal Saigal burst out with “Wah, bai, wah” and performed with a group that was two generations younger. Gangubai Hangal was born to Chikkurao Nadiger, a celebrated vocalist of Carnatic music at Dharwad. Her family shifted to Hubli in 1928. She learned classical music from Krishnacharya and Dattopant Desai. Later, she took the tutelage of Sawai Gandharva to complete the arrival of Dharwad in the Hindustani classical music scene. She was the last of a generation from Karnataka that gave a true meaning to the word ‘Hindustani’. Else, how would Makhania Kuan know music voiced by the other side of the Vindhyas in its own language? For them, the rest, before Gangubai Hangal, was noise.