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Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar

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Biography

Udaipur, Rajasthan, India (1929 – 1990)

Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar (14 March 1929 – 28 September 1990), popularly known as Z. M. Dagar, was a musician, one of the 19th generation of Dagar family musicians. He was largely responsible for the revival of the as a solo concert instrument.

Zia Mohiuddin Dagar was born in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, and began musical study with his father, Ustad Ziauddin Khan Dagar, court musician for the Maharana of Udaipur. He was trained both in vocals and in the rudra veena, an instrument used by vocalists to practice melodies. The veena was traditionally not played in public, but the young Zia Mohiuddin adopted it as his primary instrument, giving his first recital at age 16.
Although he was discouraged by his father from experimenting with the structure of the veena, he nevertheless modified the instrument after his father’s death to better equip it for solo performance, transforming it into a larger bass instrument (sometimes called “Dagar veena”): with the help of the instrument house Kanailal & Brother, he enlarged the tumbas (gourds) and dhandhi (hollow neck) to create greater resonance and to allow the notes to sustain longer and so better reproduce the techniques used in dhrupad singing. Because of these modifications, the instrument was too heavy to be held in the standard Northern posture (with one tumba on the left shoulder), so he played instead in the Southern posture, with one tumba on the ground and one on the left knee.

He was known particularly for his slow development of ragas, which were typically performed accompanied only by a tanpura and occasionally with pakhawaj, and for his meticulous attention to microtonal inflections.

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