A Musician’s Book
Urmila Bhirdikar
GAAN GUNAGAAN: EK SANGITIK YATRA by By Satyasheel Deshpande Rajhans Prakashan, Pune, 2023, 292 pp., INR 450.00
July 2024, volume 48, No 7

Satyasheel Deshpande is a discerning musician and an archivist of the north Indian ragdari music. He writes and speaks on this music in multiple languages. Musicians and music lovers in India and abroad know him and respect him. It is, therefore, important to read his recent Marathi book Gaan Gunagaan: Ek Sangitik Yatra, which is an account of his musical journey and a commentary on the music and musicians of the 20th century. The special feature of this book is the inclusion of music samples in the form of QR codes that can be scanned and accessed easily. In my review, I limit myself to the text and do not comment on the music samples and their relationship to the text.

I begin by placing Deshpande’s text in its linguistic context to highlight what it does to the question of music’s epistemology and aesthetics. The dialect is standard modern Marathi (with an inclination to use Sanskritized word formations, for hyperbole and humour) filled with Hindustani/Urdu words and phrases and a smattering of English words/concepts. Addressing the former, it is clear that the technical vocabulary of north Indian ragdari music is inevitable in the Marathi musicological register,

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