Posts Tagged ‘Hindustani Classical Music’

DVD Dance of the Wind.

These are the only two clips I could find from this  currently unobtainable DVD. The story is about a daughter who is the student of her musician mother – and the story of how a musical tradition  comes to be  transmitted.

These are the notes which accompanied the Youtube clips:

A few excerpts from ‘Dance of the wind’ (1997), a film by Rajan Khosa.

Karuna Devi, mother of the female singer Pallavi, is at the end of her life. Karuna has been a great and celebrated singer, while her daughter Pallavi -though already succesfull- is still at the beginning of her career. When Karuna dies, Pallavi -played by the famous Indian actress Kitu Gidwani- feels she has not completed her mother’s training and still lacks a voice of her own, a voice she can maybe find by learning from the guru of her mother, an old man her mother never talked about and who might be still alive. The death of her mother deeply traumatizes Pallavi, so much that she literally loses her voice and is unable to sing for a long time. When she finally finds the guru of her mother – through a very young streetgirl who learns from him and sings marvellously – Pallavi regains her voice and from here she’ll be able to continue her career and tradition with a voice of her own.

Noted Hindustani classical singer, Shubha Mudgal composed the music, while playback was given by ‘Shweta Jhaveri’, Shanti Hirannand, and Brinda Roy Choudhuri. Other noted artists, who worked on soundtrack were, Sarangi performer, Ustad Sultan Khan, and noted flautist, Ronu Majumdar, and the film went on to win the ‘Gold Plaque for Music’ at the 1998 Chicago International Film Festival
The beautiful soundrack of the film is by Shubha Mudgal (composer here, but also a renowned raga singer). Shweta Jhaveri sings the music of Pallavi.









These are some classical compositions in Raga Bhairavi performed  by one of my very favourite Hindustani Classical singers Shweta Javeri.

Shweta Javeri


























Dance of the Wind

Niranjani Narayani  – In praise of the Goddess

Devotional song (Bhajan) #1

Devotional song #2




Ragini Bhairavi

Bhairavi is a female Raga. This is the Hindustani version of Bhairavi. The Bhairavi of the Carnatic (South Indian)  system is a different raga.

Solfage in the Indian system is as follows.
Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa Dha, Ni Sa.

My compendium of ragas which claims to provide  the Western note equivalent for Bhairavi Raga gives the scale as

C , D flat,  E flat,  F,  G,  A flat,  B flat, (or A# which on a keyboard are represented by the same note) C

However, I noticed that the harmonium player in the clip provided to demonstrate Bhairavi Raga  does not begin  his scale on a natural note.  

This of course does nothing to clear up the general confusion which appears as soon as the Indian system is described in terms of  the Western.

Sot is better,  in my view, to just think of the notes by name, and to recognise their groupings in terms of their intervals and ‘groupings’ in the ‘Pakad’.

But this is how Bhairavi  is described in the Hindustani system.

Thaat  – meaning something equivalent to genus)  –  Bhairavi

This is the sofage scale of the Hindustani Bhairavi.

As was determined earlier, the  sounds of the notes themselves vary, though their names do not!

Aaroh  (ascending scale) Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa

Avroh (descending scale)   Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa

Pakad (or Pakar,  the “signature phrase” of the raga)   Ni Re Ga Ma Pa Ma Ga Re Sa

Vaadi:   Ma

Samvaadi:   Sa

But elsewhere the vadi is given as Ga and the samvadi as Ni.

I can think of no explanation for this…..

There are also some other variations of Pakad as follows.
The commas separate the recognisable groupings of notes which appear in these variations.

g  S  r  S,  ‘n  S  g  m  P  d  P,  g  m  r  S

g  m  P d  P,  g m r S,  ‘d ‘n S,  S r g r S

Bhairavi is considered a complete (Sampoorna) raga because it uses all seven notes in both ascending (Aroh) and descending (Avroh) scales.

It is a symmetrical raga, because its ascending scale descends in the same order.

Indian music is modal and microtonal. It uses 22 microtones within the octave, and it has uncountable ragas or modes arranged under the ten major categories or ‘thaats’.

The notes in a raga might  or might not always be fixed.  In what may be a terribly confusing system to western listeners, the solfage or sargam (sargam is a contraction of  sa ri ga ma) may be retained while the ‘key’* is changed.

The resulting raga might then be referred to by its original name, or assume another identity!  In other words, a raga might retain its identity while changing its manner of expression!  So in the end, it is the  characteristics of the Pakad  (cognitive phrase) and swara sanchar (familiar note sequences)  which make a raga recognisable.

As if it couldn’t get worse, some expressions of musical virtuosity (tirobhav/ahirbhav) use ‘camouflage’ to carry the raga into a series of variations,

Goddess Saraswati - the patron of Learning and Music

before bringing in shades of other ragas,  before taking it back ‘home’.

Properly speaking, the western system of fixed-note tuning does not permit microtones – since in a piano for instance, a C sharp and a D flat will make the same sound, whereas in the Indian system they will have different frequencies, therefore though raga swaras (notes) are ascribed western  music equivalents, they might be tonally different.

Bhairavi is  technically an early morning raga but it is usually played at the end of long  evening/night recitals.  It is intended to exalt and soothe and uplift the soul, but it can also be sad.

Ragas are believed to possess mood-inducing musical potency, and are said to  have the power of ability and generating emotions and emotional archetypes. This is of course not an objective phenomenon, but one that is experienced within its cultural context. In the case of Bhairavi, it is the image of a woman who, filled with longing, awaits the arrival of her lover. So the feelings of devotion, separation and nostalgia can also be added to the list of evocations.




I use the word ‘key’ loosely here, because Indian music does not recognise key changes, and it does not have key signatures. Sargam/solfage alone is the equivalent of  ‘key’.

One possible explanation of Bhairavi raga.


A more extensive demonstration in the form of a devotional song…



As in Medieval music, harmony did not have a place in Indian music, but  that is beginning to change, and with it the purity of the form – however Western ears might find this fusion to their liking…..



The word Alaap refers to the open unbroken sound (with no meter or rhythmic accompaniment) used to express the ‘mood’ of a raga. It usually comes at the very beginning of a musical performance, as an explication of what is to follow.

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