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• Raag Parameshwari •

S-r-g-m-D-n-S A mellifluous modern form created by Ravi Shankar in 1968 (…via backseat car-ride boredom in Bengal). While somewhat resembling a ‘komal re Bageshri’, its hexagonal structure summons its own colours and tensions – with early performances exerting hidden influence on countercultural icons including George Harrison. A captivating scale, ripe for open-ended experiments. Also see […]

 

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• Raag Yaman •

S-R-G-M-P-D-N-S Among the first-learned and most-performed ragas, Yaman’s influence on modern Hindustani music is impossible to overstate. Linked to the early night hours (‘when lanterns are lit’), the disbalancing effects of tivra Ma – the only non-shuddha swara – allow for a kaleidoscopic emotional range, with Sa and Pa often being skipped in aroha to […]

 

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• Raag Vachaspati •

S-R-G-M-P-D-n-S Vachaspati (‘lord of speech’) is a recent import from the South, adapted from Carnatic music’s 64th parent scale in the mid-20th century. Consequently, its Northern form is still in a state of flux, with few firm melodic conventions aside from staying within the scale’s bounds. The swaras resemble overtones 8-14 of the harmonic series […]

 

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• Raag Todi •

S-r-g-M-P-d-N-S Pivotal to Hindustani history, the Todi raganga overflows with musical ideas found nowhere else on the planet. Some link its ambiguous geometries with “existential unsettlement”, while others hear “the playfulness of a newborn, content and smiling”. Rajan Parrikar hails it as “the most profound, finespun idea in melodic music…from ecstasy, to frolic, to pathos, […]

 

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• Raag Tilak Kamod •

S-R-G-m-P-D-N-S Mirroring the Western Major scale, Tilak Kamod’s seven swaras offer robust melodic flexibility across a range of sentiments (“heroic courage, philosophic poise, devotional contentment, suggestive eroticism…”). One tale traces the raga to Pyar Khan, a rabab pioneer said to have devised it after overhearing a village woman sing while grinding corn in Uttar Pradesh. […]

 

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• Raag Shree •

S-r-G-M-P-d-N-S According to Gwalior vocal master Omkarnath Thakur, Shree is associated with those sunset hours when “disembodied spirits…become active, and aid in the black magic of Tantriks”. Tied to ancient mythologies of Lord Shiva, the raga takes its name from ‘Sri’, a sacred Sanskrit syllable which in Vedic tradition represents the material nature of humanity’s […]

 

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• Raag Puriya Dhanashree •

S-r-G-M-P-d-N-S Like the scale-congruent Shree, Puriya Dhanashree’s hemitonic clusters outline a major triad (SGP) with the first and last steps ‘enclosed’ by their immediate neighbours to give two sets of three adjacent swaras (NSr, MPd). Pa exerts the strongest gravity, easing the tension of the tivra Ma and providing temporary anchor for melodic lines which […]

 

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• Raag Puriya •

S-r-G-M-D-N-S A prominent sunset raga, Puriya takes the same six swaras as Marwa and Sohini, using them to bring a distinct set of melodic forces. Renditions tend to focus on the low and middle octaves, seeking a fine balance between ascending and descending phrases. Some describe its mood as one of ‘sombre piety’, while others find […]

 

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• Raag Poorvi •

S-r-G-mM-P-d-N-S Poorvi is a long-lived sunset raga from East India, which to many evokes a serious mood of mystical contemplation. Mixing wide and narrow intervals (all swaras have at least one immediate neighbour), its complex twists and turns belie the base scale’s neat, symmetrical nature – with Sa and Pa often being omitted in ascent […]

 

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• Raag Pilu •

S-R-gG-m-P-D-nN-S A true thumri raga, Pilu’s highly permissive melodic framework functions more like an alliance of amorous folk tunes than a ‘fully codified’ form. While relatively rare on the khayal stage, it enjoys wild popularity across a swathe of semi-classical styles, invoking both variants of Ga and Ni to animate countless love songs and Krishna […]