March 4: Omkar Dhumal, Shehnai player, music composer and multi-instrumentalist, released his new single Shades on 22.02.2022. Shades is an impassioned instrumental track with Omkar on Shehnai, featuring Dakshinamurthy Pillai on Mridangam. The concept and composition are Dhumal’s original.
When asked about what Shades means to him, Omkar mentioned, “Shades is dark, bold and intense. I have fused electronic, ethnic, and acoustic elements to bring forth Shehnai in a new avatar. It flaunts analogue and digital synth sounds, with Raag Shree unravelling amidst varying time signatures. The title Shades elaborates different tones of Shehnai by using ‘TC Helicon VoiceLive 3′. Mridangam is introduced in the last fragment of the track.”
Omkar has been extensively working in the music industry for over a decade to bring Shehnai to the forefront of Indian and World Music. He has worked with the likes of AR Rahman, Pritam, Amit Trivedi, Sachin-Jigar, Salim- Sulieman, Ranjit Barot, A. Sivamani, and Nitin Sawhney, and many others. His recent collaborations include Bhoomi 2021, Global Citizen Live, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, and other film prpjects.He has been awarded the prestigious Junior Fellowship to Outstanding Person in the field of Hindustani Classical Music by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Government of India. Omkar has also been featured in many prestigious classical music festivals like Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav, Aundh Sangeet Mahotsav, Girnar Mahotsav, and festivals like HCL Live Concert, Kala Ghoda Festival, Paddy Fields, and Times Sanskruti Arts, among many others.
Omkar’s Shehnai lessons began under his father, the renowned Shehnai Maestro Pt. Madhukar Dhumal (“Swades – Yeh jo des hai tera” fame). He is currently taking lessons from Hindustani Classical Maestro, Pt. Arun Kashalkar. Shades is a tribute to his guru Pt. Kashalkar. He says, “ I can imagine Raag Shree in such a diverse spectrum because of my Guru’s teaching. You need to learn one form of any classical music style (Hindustani/Western etc.) from its core, only then can you proceed to learn, adapt and understand other musical genres. Learning from my Guru is helping me to understand other musical styles precisely than before.”
When asked about the creative process of Shades, Omkar explained, “ I started on Shades in 2020. It was fun creating harmonies and synth lines for Shades which is based on Raag Shree. Since it’s a five notes Raag (Pentatonic scale) it became even more challenging! The interesting part of Shades while production was filtering and automation, like Organ, Synth lead, synth bass, acoustic instrument, and also fusing Carnatic style. It was particularly convivial writing the last jugalbandi (Shehnai and Mridangam). However, you need to give a lot of time to blend and compose different phrases and tunes. Creativity comes with listening to thousand different creations. That’s how we see new things coming up.”
Omkar, on his musical journey and being one of the youngest Shehnai players in the Indian music industry, “In 2005, my father was diagnosed and operated on for Oral Cancer. After his difficult childhood, this surgery was quite a shock and affected him personally and professionally. Since then, I was aware of my destiny, I was 13. I started playing Shehnai in the music industry from the age of 16. Initially, I would get to play the simple music interludes. It was to help dad (after his surgery) when he would get tired by playing. That’s how I learned to play recording sessions. At the age of 19, I appeared on national television at MTV Coke Studio. I was the first musician to play Shehnai on such a platform. It was for Amit Trivedi’s episode song called ‘Yatra’. Delightfully, it was released on my birthday.”
A nourished contemporary-style doesn’t exist in Shehnai as of now. Omkar is up and about to explore its potential. He wants to change people’s outlook on Shehnai. The reason Shades exists. Through Shades, Omkar has showcased a different version of this instrument via the audio-visual medium, with the video directed by Mohit A Jaitly and Praanni Agarwal, and costumes designed by Neha Kothari. The mixing and mastering are done by Abhishek Sortey. He believes the audience will enjoy witnessing a new version of Shehnai.
SHADES is available on his YouTube Channel (Omkar Dhumal) and all the major music streaming platforms.