• Raag Asa Bhairav •


A joining of Bhairav and the archaic Sikh form Asa (Sanskrit for ‘Hope’), matching the swaras of ‘Bilawal double-Re’ – with the shuddha taken in ascent, and the komal in descent. Parrikar notes that “the Bhairav-ang is expressed in the poorvang [e.g. Gm(G)rS], and the rest of the contour looks to Asa [e.g. S, S(m)RmP, DNPD, S]…Ravi Shankar furnishes a delightful play on the theme”. Shankar himself notes having “learned this rare raga from Baba [Allauddin Khan], and developed it myself…its mood is of viraha shringar” (‘the loneliness of being apart from a lover’). Few other artists have cut full-length recordings, leaving ample space for future experiments. Compare to other ragas Shankar played a pivotal role in popularising (e.g. Hemant, Hem Bihag, & Nat Bhairav) – plus his Carnatic imports (Charukeshi, Vachaspati, Kirwani, Malay Marutam, & Simhendra Madhyamam).

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—Ravi Shankar (1991)—

[refrain, e.g. 23:54] (m)RmP DS, S(NS)D, mG(mG) (S)rS, (m)RmP DS


• Classifiers •

Explore hidden inter-raga connections: swara geometries, melodic features, murchana sets, ragangas, & more (also see the Full Tag List):

Swaras: -4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10+

Sapta: Audav | Shadav | Sampurna

Poorvang: SRGM | SRG | SRM | SGM

Uttarang: PDNS | PDS | PNS | DNS

Varjit: Re | Ga | Ma | Pa | Dha | Ni

Double: rR | gG | mM | dD | nN

Thaat: 10 | 32Enclosed | Inexact

Chal: All-shuddha | All-komal | Ma-tivra

Gaps: Anh. | Hemi. | 3-row | 4-row | 5-row

Symmetries: Mirror | Rotation | Palindr.

Aroha: Audav | Shadav | Sampurna

Avroh: Audav | Shadav | Sampurna

Jati: Equal | Balanced | Av.+1 | Av.+2

Samay: Morning | Aftern. | Eve. | Night

Murchana: Bhup. | Bihag | Bilaw. | Charu.

Raganga: Bhairav | Malhar | Kan. | Todi

Construction: Jod | Mishra | Oddball

Origin: Ancient | Carnatic | Modern

Dominance: Poorvang | Uttarang

Prevalence: A-list | Prachalit | Aprach.


• Prakriti: Adi Basant


–Swara Geometries–

Core form: SrRGmPDNS
Reverse: SrgmPdnNS
Negative: 5-3-2-2
Imperfect: 2 (re, Ni)
Detached: 1 (re)
Symmetries: none
Murchanas: Miyan ki Malhar set


–Global Translations–

Carnatic: ~Suryakantam
Jazz: Ionian dbl. 2nd
Pitch classes (‘fret-jumps’):

o o o • o o • o • o • o o


• Tanpura: Sa–Pa
• Names: Asa Bhairav, Asha Bhairav


—Ravi Shankar (2004)—



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An open-ended project seeking to bring North Indian raga closer to all who approach with open ears. Combines direct input from dozens of leading Hindustani artists with in-depth insights from music history, global theory, performance practice, cognitive science, and much more! [out 2023-24]

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George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher (guitars, sitar, tabla, & santoor). Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the voices, cultures, and passions behind them. See Homepage for more, and hit me up for Lessons!

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