Yearly Archives: 2015

Pentatonic Ragas OR औडव जाति राग (Audav-Jaati Ragas) in Indian Ragas

As the name signifies, Pentatonic ragas are the ragas having the five-notes syllables in particular. In Hindustani music, there are primary three Jaati : Audav (Ragas having only 5 notes in ascend and descend both) , Shaadav (Ragas having 6 notes), Sampoorna (Ragas having all 7 notes); and nine sub-categories with all possible combinations of these three categories, like Audav-Audav (Having 5-5 notes in ascending and descending series both), Audav-Shadav ( 5 notes in ascending and 6 while descend), Audav-Sampoorna (5 notes while Ascend and all 7 while descend ) etc.. Pentatonic ragas are called Audav Jaati Raga (औडव जाति के राग). 

 There are many ragas, which are created only by selecting five notes, omitting any two, which are mesmerizing and extraordinary. Creating and vocalizing such scale is challenging, because the phrase-improvisation,  becomes limited as one has to revolve round and round skipping with those five notes.

Some of the Audav-Jaati ragas are:

 Raga Bhoopali (भूपाली ):

Bhoopali is the basic and one of the most populous pentatonic raga. It consists of Sa Re Ga Pa Dha Saa, omitting Ma and Ni.These five notes create wonders with captivating phrases like: 

sa re ga re ga pa, ga pa dha ga pa, Pa(lower) dha(L) sa re ga re dha pa ga re sa re dha(L) sa, ga dha pa ga re,  sa re ga dha(L) sa,  ga pa dha ga dha pa, pa ga dha pa, etc.

Bhoopali is originated from the thaat Kalyan. It’s an evening raga, which has gandhar (ga) and dhaivat (Dh) as it’s vadi (most important swar) and samvadi (second most important swar of this raga) respectively. As stated before, jaati is audav-audav.

Deshkaar (देशकार): 

Another most similar raga having the same five notes,  swar structure, is DESHKAAR. Only chalan and note tendency makes the temperament and personality different from each other.  Dhaivat or dha swar is given more importance in Deshkar than it is given in the latter. Deshkar is playful and go with fast improvisation by making loops, while bhoopali is more towards mature, serious and nyasa-pradhaan (one can sustain or halt on a note). Deshkar looks like bhoopali when sustained on a note or go slow. Deshkar comes under bilawal thaat because of its important phrase,  ga re ga pa.

Jait-Kalyan (जैतकल्याण):

There is another raga Jait-kalyan, which is same as bhoopali but slightly different from its temperament and structure. But since it can not be performed for a long time maintianing the difference from other ragas in the same family, its not a popular one.

 Raga Vibhaas (विभास ):

Vibhaas has the same five notes as in bhoopali making IInd and VIth flat, i.e., re and dha komal. We can also consider it like Bhairav raag omitting Ma and ni. It goes like: sa re (b) ga pa dha (b)Saa.Saa Dha Pa Ga Re Sa

It comes under the Bhairav category because it gives a dull morning feel which one feels in singing or listening to bhairav. Therefore, it’s a morning or dawn raga with thaat bhairav and re komal and dha komal as vadi-samvadi. This raga is not so popular, may be because of timing, since no concerts are performed  early morning. But the raga is fabulous and vitalizing while listening or singing.

Raga Shivranjini (शिवरंजिनी ):

 Shivranjini is one of the famous instrumental raga, which again has same note-establishment: sa re ga pa dha saa, this time only ga komal (IIIb or flat) and rest all the notes natural. 

There are an ample of old Hindi films songs composed beautifully in this raga. Its not very recognized among the vocalists but surely a splendid piece for performance among the Indian instrumentalists. In fact, after every detailed raga improvisation, they often perform Shivranjini for exhibiting semi-classical or light flavor. There are hardly any classical compositions in this raga but the light music composers and ghazal-composers have created majestic and distinguished songs, some of them fully sticking to only  to these notes.

Raga Bhoop-Todi (भूप-तोड़ी ):

Again same note structure, with the involvement of Todi-ang. Todi is a basic, fundamental raga or one of the ten thaats, from which ragas are created and classified. Todi-ang signifies re ga re sa. Any raga having Re Ga Dha komal (II, III, VI flat) and Ma teevra (IV sharp) comes under the thaat todi and resembles raga todi.  Therefore, bhoopali raga having re ga dha komal (flat), with the flavor of todi as in bringing re ga re sa repetitively,  is bhoop-todi. In other words, raga todi without Ma and Ni is bhoop-todi. Ma being omitted, there is no question of madhyam teevra.  This raga comes under todi category or thaat because it is performed more in todi version. It’s a beautiful afternoon raga, but not so popular as it’s a little hard. I have heard only perfectly proficient maestros singing this raga.

Raga Hansdhwani (हंसध्वनि )

Hansdhwani is the one of the most eminent raga, which is originally a south-Indian (karnatak) but has been also adopted by north-Indian discipline, because of its charisma and inertness. It comes under Yaman family (Thaat) and resembles the same with its prominence. It omits MA and DHA, with the rest all natural (shuddha) notes. Swar structure goes like:

Sa Ra Ga Pa Ni Saa, Saa Ni Pa ga Re Sa. Phrases like: Ga Pa Re Sa, Ga Pa Ni Saa Ni Pa, Ga pa Ni Pa, Ga Pa re, Ni P(L) Sa…. Ga Pa Ni Pa Saaaaaaa….Pa ni Saa  Re(H)   Ga(higher), Ga(H) Re(H) Ni Pa Saa leave an alluring  and peaceful and deep vibration on the listener’s mind.

Raga Durga ( दुर्गा )

Durga is another pentatonic raga, which comes under the thaat Bilawal. It is a beautiful raga, which is named under the divine Goddess Durga, symbolizing fearlessness and tranquility. It’s a late evening raga which has Re and Pa as it’s Vadi and Samvadi. It omits Ga (III) and Ni (VII) with all the natural notes. 

It’s a haunting and melodious raga which revolves around the phrases like: re ma pa, re ma pa dha pa, ma pa dha pa dha Saa…..Sa re ma re ma pa, ma dha pa, pa dha ma pa, Saa dha pa, re ma re pa, ma dha pa, ma re sa… 

Raga Durga is a purvang-pradhaan raga, meaning, it is mostly improvised in the first half of the octave that’s, Sa re ma Pa dha

Raga Malkauns  (मालकौंस )

Raga Malkauns is one of the most populous pentatonic raga in North-Indian music, which is also considered as fundamental and essential for the music beginners,  when they move from the easy to hard level while training. It is a versatile and full of scope, which can be sung/played for hours, showing unique variations and phrases, making the listeners spellbound. It is based on the Bhairavi Thaat, as Ga Dha Ni are komal, omitting Re and Pa. Madhyam (Ma) and Gandhaar (ga) are the most important note in this raga, vadi-samvaadi being Ma – Sa.  Since pancham is fully omitted in this raga, taanpura is tuned in the base note Ma and Sa. The time of this raga is the late night around 9 PM to 12 AM.  Many old Hindi movies songs, especially bhajans, like the famous Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj,  are composed in this raga. This is a Nyaas-pradhaan raga and demonstrate Ga Ma  as its nyaas swar. It is Purvang-pradhan raga, as it revolves in its lower and middle octave. 

It incorporates:

Ascent: Ni Sa Ga Ma Dha Ni Saaa,  Descend: Saa Ni Dha Ma, Ga Ma Ga Sa. 

Taans like:  nSgS SgMg gMdM Mdnd dnSn nSgS… Sndn ndMd dMgM MgSg gSnS ggS sounds stimulating and refreshing.

Raga Hindol (हिंडोल )

Sa Ga m  Dha Ni SA, SA Ni Dha m Ga Sa… sa, N S G m, S G m, m G, m m G, m G S, S G m D m, G m D m, m D m, m G S G m G S…. S G m D m G, m D G m G S, …S G m D N D m G S,  G m D SAAAA…. Saaa Ni D m G, m G Sa.

Hindol is a gentle, generous, soft raga, which consists of the same note structure as Malkauns, having only Madhyam Teevra and remaining all notes natural, Re and Pa are skipped off. It is a scintillating raga, based on the Thaat Kalyan because of the Madhyam (Ma) teevra. However,  it does not resemble raga kalyan (or yaman). Ma Teevra is the heart note of Hindol, upon which the whole raga keeps revolving, sustaining regularly on Ga and dha. Ga and dha are the vadi-samvaadi and time of this raga is morning. Nishaad (Ni) is a little weak or faded while ascent (aaroh), therefore, mostly higher octaves are reached as m D SAA. m D N SAA is also allowed and looks good though. Since neither Shuddha Ma nor pancham (Pa) is used in this raga, drone swar (base-note to be tuned on the taanpura )is m teevra.

Raga Madhmad Saarang (मधमाद सारंग) 

Ni S Re Ma Pa Ni Saa…. Sa ni Pa  Ma Re Sa

Madhmaad Saarang Ga and dha omitted and Ni komal only while descend. Meaning, both the Ni are used in this raga, having shuddha ni while going up or aaroh and komal ni while returning or avroh. It goes with Pa Ni Saaa, and returns with Saa ni P… remaining all the notes are natural.  This raga belongs the saarang family and based on Kafi Thaat. Saarang is another basic raga which has numerous kinds like shuddha-Saarang, Gaud-Saarang, Vrindavani-Saarang, Madhmaad-Saarang, etc.. Saarang kinds can be identified as romantic or shringaar-rasa pradhaan. All of the types of saarangs come under kafi Thaat, because of its melody and playfulness. These ragas are never serious and are sung or played in the evening.

Raga Abhogi (आभोगी)

This is basically a karnatak raga but popular in Hindustani too. This belongs to kanhara family like darbari-kanhara, Adana etc., omitting Pa NI, and making Ga komal and rest of the notes natural. Kanhara signifies Ga komal, in fact, ati-komal and Aandolit i.e., over-flatted and vibrated, and the phrase g M R S is the indication of all kanhara kinds. In Abhogi, Sa R D R S is the pakad or catch. 

S R g M D Saaa… Saa D M g R S


Swar-O-Metre in Indian Classical Music

While practicing Indian Classical ragas, my mind often innovates a device which gives an accurate measurement of Swaras. Whenever I perceive the uncertainty or some inaccuracies in the rendition of  swaras while practicing swaras, I often wonder that there should be an instrument ‘swar-O-metre’ which can scan our voice while we sing and accordingly judge the notes with the help of the markings made on it.

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Origin Of Western Classical Music

The word ‘classical’ connotes something of lasting value, something conceived with certain standards in mind. The word classical conveys structural order, a clear sense of form, design, and content. The story of classical  music is old and ongoing one, which encompasses many different styles and developments. In general. classical music has tended to reflect the times.

Like all the other art fields, music tends to shape itself according to the then public tastes and demeanor. In classical music, entertainment should be the last thing to think about. Classical music art works as an art first, then discipline, rules and principals, aesthetics moreover extracted from the limitations of rules. As stated before, classical music systems the art form by certain rules and theories. A good answer to the question “what is Classical music” is “a music which does not make money.

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Indian Classical Raga Therapy

Music is a  sound or nada generating particular vibrations which moves through the medium of ether present in the atmosphere and effects the human body. Pt. Sarangdeva mentions in his Sangeet Ratnakar that ahata-nada or music is always produced by striking or Agatha by a living being on an instrument of any kind So music is a power or universal energy in the form of raga.

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Visualizing The Indian Classical Hindustani Ragas

Raag Madhuvanti

 I visualize  raga Madhuvanti with the yellow majestic  sun-set, which somewhat darkens the environment. An insipid but beautiful evening full of balmy environment…as if, however all the flora has been darkened because of the sun’s radiance, but still that radiance merge into soul’s flame end up giving a pacifistic feel.

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My Favorite Indian Maestros in Indian Classical Music

    Since my specialization is Indian Classical music, I always want me to listen to different kinds of musicians or instrumentalists and their music, to enhance my classical knowledge and notes-accuracy, as I’ve been told from my own teachers that listening adds up to better singing. In fact, listening to classical music is more beneficial in singing than just practicing rigorously. The more we listen, more musical notes are grasped in our brains which leads to better perception while singing.

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Two Types of Music Therapy

Hansel and her more than 3,200 colleagues of the American Music Therapy Association practice two types of music therapy: active and passive. Familiar and, most importantly, likable, music elicits the best responses. For example, Big Band music motivated social interaction more than making a puzzle in one 1993 study, and another study that same year found playing music of a patient’s choosing six days a week reduced his or her agitation.

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Agara Gharana had been one of the most eminent and affluent Gharanas of tradition system in the world of Indian Hindustani classical music. There are ample of Agara stalwarts in today’s domain, who are extremely successful and working a lot for the up-gradation of Indian music. Some of the radically distinguished and knowledgeable personalities of Agara Gharana, which do not belong to their family in particular, yet patronized a lot  in making the Gharana prestigious and illustrious include: Pt. Bhaskar Bua Bakhle, Pt. Jagannath Bua Purohit,  Pt. Dilip Chandra Vedi, Dr. Sumati Mutatkar , Pt. Babanrao Haldankar,  and  many more. Maximum of these great people had been the disciples of Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan, one of the leading creator and mentor of Agara Gharana.

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Baroque Music

Baroque era is considered as  the golden age for classical music and for musicians. It was the time when western classical discipline flourished and  achieved dignified reputation within the society.

‘Baroque’ word represents the style of an art, architecture or music developed in Europe during the early seventeenth to mid-18th century. In other words, an era between 1600-1750 AD incorporates baroque era. It emphasizes on dramatic, often strained effect and typified by bold, curving forms, elaborated ornamentation and small balance of desperate parts.

 Baroque period in music exhibited the developments such as construction of fundamentals were firmly organized and put in place. Music became more systematic by conceptualizing the melody and harmony through the creation of music theory. For instance, composers like Claudio Monteverdi and Jean Philippe Rameau helped creating the harmonic logic, melodic expressiveness, and rhythmic vitality. More and more researches initiated by the then composers resulted in the refinement of polyphonic music and invented of newer, in fact more convenient methodology of singing. For example, an element of polyphonic music was introduced called ‘imitation‘. A method of having an independent line in a piece of music imitate, a few moments later, the melody of a previous line.

Baroque composers refined the possibilities in this imitative style of polyphony which later came to be known as ‘counterpoint’.

Then arrived fugue, which was the most elevated form of counterpoint. Fugue is the kind of complex musical argument worked out and brought to a clear resolution by multiple voices. Similarly, many musical form showed up which proved highly adaptable and engaging for instrumental music that was somehow meant for listening.  1700 AD can be considered as the golden age of western classical/baroque music when Handel’s water music demonstrated the versatility and expressive thoughts.

Baroque era also witnessed the rise of virtuoso performers who displayed their sterling technique and flair for embellishment (improvised ornamentation of melodic lines was a common occurrence). Several musical forms especially for the performing purpose such as concertos, sonatas, oratorios were developed for solo-instruments and singers. Handel was the preeminent oratorio composer of that period.