World Music Series



Concert: Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shubha Mudgal: Passageways of the Soul
8:00 PM in Slosberg Recital Hall

Pre-Concert Talk "A Walk Through a Khyal Recital"
by George Ruckert
Senior Lecturer in Music, MIT
7:00-7:45 PM in the Rose Art Museum

“As her full throated voice filled the rotunda, my heart stood still.  In turns, tears welled up in my eyes and I felt elated and enthralled.  At times I looked up to the blue sky, and wondered if the spirits of Akbar, Jehangir and Shahjahan were hearing this celestial voice.  For me it was the experience of a lifetime.”  Khushwant Singh, The Sunday Observer

From a living tradition extending back thousands of years, Shubha Mudgal’s richly textured voice takes the listener on a musical journey that draws inspiration from medieval Sufi poetry, romantic love, and the paradoxes of modern life. Mudgal’s music, whether heard on stage or in film, explores the hidden passageways of the soul, balancing extraordinary discipline and breathtaking virtuosity with the improvisation of the imagination.

Born in a musically dedicated family, Shubha Mudgal has been trained by some of the finest musicians and musicologists in India. Trained by Pandit Ram Ashreya Jha in Allahabad, from whom she still receives instruction, Shubha later moved to Delhi where she received the guidance of Pandit Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya and Pandit Vasant Thakar.

She went on to learn stylistic techniques from well-known maestros Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki and Pandit Kumar Gandharva. She also received training in thumri from Smt. Naina Devi and is thus one of the most versatile and popular performers of today’s Hindustani musicians.

Shubha has also won recognition as a composer. Her repertoire of medieval mystic and Sufi poetry includes rarely heard texts from the Vaishnava Pushti-marg poets, as well as the Nirguna poetry of Kabir, Namdev, Amir Khusrau, Nath-panthi poets and other Sufiana poetry. As a result of studying and setting to tune this poetry, she is able to present concerts on diverse themes ranging from the works of Meerabai, Tulsidas to the medieval texts of Mallik Mohammad Jaysi’s Padmavat.

Shubha enjoys working with creators in all mediums. She has thus composed music for dancers, ballets, documentary films, and signature tunes for television serials and films.

Apart from her work as a performer and composer, Shubha has also been actively engaged in projects that aim at promoting the cause of music. She is currently one of the directors of Underscore Records Private Limited.

She has also worked as a consultant for many record labels such as Music Today, Magnasound and Virgin Records (India), and in this capacity has been involved in the production of exclusive albums of Indian classical and semi-classical music. Greatly concerned with the issues of performers’ rights and intellectual property rights, Shubha is also constantly engaged in projects that aim at creating awareness of these issues among Indian artists.

Shubha Mudgal will be accompanied by Aneesh Pradhan, talba; Sudhir Nayak, harmonium; and Murad Ali, sarangi, all who have toured extensively for concerts in India and abroad.

Aneesh Pradhan, tabla, is a disciple of the tabla maestro Pt. Nikhil Ghosh. An accomplished soloist, and accompanist to vocal and instrumental music, as well as dance, Aneesh holds a doctoral degree in History. He is a Senior Research Fellow (Honorary) at the Department of Contemporary Music Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia. For more details please visit

Sudhir Nayak, who provides harmonium accompaniment, is a disciple of veteran harmonium player Pt. Tulsidas Borkar. He has also received guidance from Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki.

Murad Ali: Known for his melodious accompaniment to vocal music and for his solo performances, Murad Ali belongs to a family of musicians. He had his training in sarangi from his father Ustad Ghulam Sabir Khan. For more details, please visit

The artists will be traveling with Tanay Gajjar, one of the leading audio engineers in the country.

Shubha Mudgal, activist is part of an initiative called Underscore Records Pvt. Ltd. that Shubha and her husband Aneesh Pradhan set up in 2003, to enable Indian musicians to share their work with music lovers across the world on their own terms and conditions. A short note on their work through the company is quoted below:

Underscore Records Pvt. Ltd. is driven by the sole belief that despite a rise in competing avenues of performance in a global environment, a major part of the music making process in India lies unheard and untapped. Several streams of music that coexist in the musically vibrant Indian society are not sufficiently represented in prevailing forms of dissemination. Many musicians continue to work silently despite the lack of a proper and sustained patronage. Underscore strongly believes that there is an urgent need for creating space for all forms of music and for musicians to empower themselves in order to find a voice of sanity in an irksome market situation.

At Underscore, musicians retain their copyright on material recorded by them. It also gives back to the artistes/producers an 80% share of the retail price on every sale made through its website. Underscore strives to bring to its listeners, quality music with excellent production values. Maintaining a transparency between all concerned, Underscore in its role as producer, manufacturer and/or distributor, liaisons between performer and listener. In order to circumvent problems of conventional wholesale and retail distribution networks, Underscore reaches out to music lovers through the internet.

Responding to the increasing interest in Indian music, Underscore makes available special print publications in the nature of books, papers, essays and articles.

Shubha has also been actively involved with several organizations in India that are devoted to promoting communal harmony. In her capacity as a performer, she has done hundreds of shows to raise funds for victims of communal violence. She is also a Trustee of ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy) and SAHMAT (Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust). More details about ANHAD here:

Her work with Breakthrough, an organization that works for Human Rights includes two albums, one on the theme of women's rights titled "Mann Ke Manjeere", and the other issue with diversity, equality and communal harmony titled "Haman Hain Ishq". More details about both albums here:

Female infanticide is sadly quite common in India even today, with cases of families preferring to spend money and effort only on sons. An NGO in Delhi workingfor the rights of the Indian girl-children had asked Shubha Mudgal to sing a song to raise awareness about the issue and they later commissioned a music video to go with the song: