The trapezoid shaped santoor occupies a significant place among the more recent additions to the family of instruments presenting Indian art music. Its rapid popularity among the listeners in recent years stands witness to the sheer commitment of a few performers. Ulhas Bapat, a reputed santoor player, etched a separate musical identity for himself and his instrument. A disciple of sarod maestro Zarin Daroowala Sharma and eminent scholar-musicians K.G.Ginde and Wamanrao Sadolikar, Ulhas Bapat (1950-2018) introduced several innovations in santoor. He was perhaps the only musician who tuned santoor chromatically to all twelve notes, such that he did not need to retune his instrument to the different notes of every raga. This fixed tuning allowed him to present vakra raags (raags with complex twists and turns) and raag malas (different raags appearing in quick succession in a single composition, giving the impression of a garland of raags). To circumvent the limitations of producing meend (glissando) on santoor, Ulhas Bapat also restructured the kalams (mallets), an experiment that added another dimension to the sound of the instrument. Forever interested in exploring different areas of music making, Ulhas Bapat had to his credit several new compositions and raags. He was also a much sought-after musician for film song and background score recordings over several decades.
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