A Raga must evoke a particular emotion or create a certain mood. Each Raga has a specific name. It also has a character, which can be devotional, erotic, bold and valorous, or even tragic. Time of day, when it is best performed, is usually specified as a 3-hour interval. However the beauty of the Raga is not affected if it is performed at other times of the day. Some Ragas are related to seasons, for example, Raga Malhar. Ragas are not static. Some can be traced back to ancient or medieval times, others originated only a few centuries or even a few decades ago. However, all Ragas have undergone transformations over the centuries. Many of them have fallen into disuse.
King Nanyadeva of Mithila (1097-1147) wrote that the variety of Ragas is infnite, and their individual features are hard to put into words. He wrote : “Just as the sweetness of sugar, treacle and candy cannot be separately described, but must be experienced for oneself.”
Every Raga is associated with a particular time of day or a season of the year. Each time of the day (i.e. before dawn, morning, noon, late afternoon, early evening, late night) is associated with a definite emotion. The cycle of day and night as well as the cycle of the seasons are supposed to be analogous to the cycle of life. The explanation of the time associated with each Raga may be found in the nature of the notes that comprise it, or in historical anecdotes concerning the Raga.
Subhra Guha – Raga Bihag (night 10pm-12am) :
Subhra Guha – Raga Bilaskhani Todi (morning 8am-10am) :
Many of us who are new to Hindustani classical music, and have just started to appreciate it, would want to know the basic structure of each Raga. Although classical music is a vast subject and cannot be understood by merely listening to music samples, it would be of immense help to many to have an insight on each Raga. In this series of 8-9 posts I will cover about 40-45 most sung Ragas. At the beginning of each song the vocalist, Subhra Guha of Agra Gharana, explains the basic structure of the Raga that is being sung. There are a few technical terms spoken by her during this briefing. Without delving into the technicalities, I will describe just these.
Each one of the several traditional Ragas is based on, or is a variation of, 10 basic Thaats, or musical scales or frameworks. The ten Thaats are Bilawal, Kalyan, Khamaj, Bhairav, Poorvi, Marwa, Kafi, Asavari, Bhairavi and Todi,. If one were to pick a Raga at random, it should be possible to find that it is based on one or the other of these Thaats.
Aroha presents the ascending scale of a Raga, whereas Avroha presents the descending scale. Pakad is the phrase of melody belonging to a Raga. It is the very essence of a Raga containing all its elements and individuality. It is something unique and not transferable to some other Raga.
Another installment of some fine songs that I found on various sites while surfing the web. Meera Banerjee, (born 1930), is a renowned name of the Patiala Gharana. She trained under Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan at an early age. Her glorious performances were honoured by the President of India in a special ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. She is married to Prasun Banerjee, a renowned vocalist.
Sipra Bose (1945-2008) was a noted singer in the Hindustani classical music tradition. She was introduced into the Thumri tradition of the Lucknow Gharana by the legendary Begum Akhtar. She also worked with Naina Devi of the Benaras Gharana and Pandit Ravi Shankar. Sipra was married to Gobindo Bose, a noted Tabla player. She died from a heart attack in 2008.
Subhra Guha, a fine exponent of the Agra Gharana, is today accepted as one of the leading female singers of the country. Subhra possesses an extremely melodious voice and has successfully eliminated the masculinity of the Agra Gharana, giving it a definite feminine charm, but at the same time keeping the salient characteristics of the Gayaki intact. Today, Subhra Guha is also acknowledged as one of the finest Thumri singers of the Poorab Ang.
Vaishali K S is an eminent Hindustani classical vocalist and an Associate Professor of English Studies at Bangalore University. A disciple of the legendary vocalist Kishori Amonkar, Vaishali has given numerous recitals all over India and abroad enthralling connoisseurs of Indian music in UK, USA, Canada and Singapore.