I am constantly drawn to the ‘dohe’ (couplets) of Kabir. His statements are pithy but their meanings are vast. They have been set and sung for hundreds of years in the Hindustani classical tradition, and they seem to meet each generation of performers and listeners in a unique way.
This tiny couplet is about patience. The singer beckons her own mind to be patient — that everything will come in its own time. Just as a seed can be watered a hundred times, it will only bloom in spring.
This work was written specifically for young musicians. I know that the music I learned early on in my musical training made a deep impression on me — perhaps because I was learning music itself through those pieces. If anything about this work stays with the young musicians who encounter it, I hope it is Kabir’s timeless message.
Dhire Dhire re mana
Dhire sub kuch hoya
Maali seenche sau gharaa
Ritu aaye, phal hoya
Little by little, dear mind
Gradually, everything comes to be
The gardener can water a hundred times
But the fruit only comes in spring
see video above
Special Performance Requirements
Singer is not required to have any Indian classical training to perform this piece. If the singer does come from an Indian classical background, there is certainly room to improvise in the work (in Raag Megh).
The text is in Hindi. I wrote this work specifically as an entry point for young Western classical singers to learn to sing in Hindi, at the same time in their training that they are learning to sing in European languages. There are very few words, and the audio guide below lays out the pronunciation clearly for non-native speakers (the score includes both the original devanagari script and the transliteration for ease of reading).
Like Italian, Hindi is an incredibly vocal language — it feels so uniquely suited for song — and I want young singers of all backgrounds to feel at home in these words.
Dhire Dhire was premiered on July 3rd, 2022 at the Music Teachers’ Association of California Convention, in Anaheim CA.