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 belongs to this class of musicians, who has over the years tried to etch 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 has introduced several innovations in santoor. He is perhaps the only musician who tunes santoor chromatically to all twelve notes, such that he does not need to retune his instrument to the different notes of every raga. This fixed tuning allows 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 has also restructured the kalams (mallets), an experiment that has added another dimension to the sound of the instrument. Forever interested in exploring different areas of music making, Ulhas Bapat has to his credit several new compositions and raags.
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