Dr. Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande

Category Vocal | Tags Khayal

Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande’s khayal vocal style draws on her PhD in Biochemistry as well as the traditions of her illustrious musical family. Her grandmother played dilruba, and she first received instruction from her mother Manik Bhide, a successful singer.

Always inclined towards learning in all directions, she completed her PhD and worked as a biochemist and atomic scientist for several years. But music was ever-present: “What was essential was my need to find light. I gave up science 30 years ago for the sake of music, initially giving myself a year to explore it. That year has never stopped!”

Her exacting style is emblematic of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, although she has also mastered the finer points of several other regional traditions. She draws inspiration from Sufi poet-saints as well as science, and specialises in sankeerna (mixed) and achchop (complex) forms.

Her analytical mindset does not mask a deeply human approach to ragas, seeing them almost like living, breathing people: “I want the raga to befriend me too. If I’m interested in a raga, I want it to be interested in me as well.” She reminds her students that “you can bring your tradition forward by looking into the past”, encouraging them to resurrect rare and near-forgotten ragas.

"Science and music complement each other for me...they build my personality, and cannot be separated now. In any case, the scientific should not be separated from the aesthetic - I feel they are two sides of same coin."

—Read more | Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande interview - ‘I want the raga to befriend me too' - talking lost ragas, visualising rhythms as warrior-heroes, and the limits of approaching music analytically. Part of Living Traditions: 21 articles for 21st-century Indian classical music.

• Darbar Player: If short clips aren't enough...watch Ashwini’s full-length versions of Raag Khem Kalyan and a Kabir Bhajan on the Darbar Player, along with a behind-the-scenes interview. We’re a small not-for-profit, and filming, editing, and hosting cost money - so subscribing costs $5/month, which we hope is an excellent price for such a wealth of unique music.

—Also see Living Traditions: 21 articles for 21st-century Indian classical music, our new series exploring how music with ancient roots continues to innovate in a fast-paced, interconnected modern world. Expand your appreciation!

Darbar Arts & Heritage believes in the power of Indian classical music to stir, thrill, and inspire. To find out more, get the Darbar newsletter, explore our YouTube channel, or sign up to the Darbar Player to watch extended festival performances in pristine HD quality.

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Founded in 2006, Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust (Darbar) believes in the power of Indian classical arts to stir, thrill and inspire. Through digital connectivity, shared experiences and enrichment we ensure that one of the finest art forms reaches the widest possible audience.

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