• Raag Bairagi (Bhairav) •


A pentatonic form introduced to the ragascape by Ravi Shankar in the 1940s, although the basic scale shape has likely been used in many guises throughout the ages. Its swara set – which concisely scatters interval jumps of 1, 2, 3, and 4 semitones – is describable as ‘Megh komal re’, while its melodies generally draw from the Bhairavang (e.g. sustained oscillations on komal re). Generally favoured by instrumentalists rather than vocalists, although audav specialist Amir Khan‘s renditions are ever-sublime. The nSr grouping is reminiscent of Vedic-era chant refrains (in Anoushka Shankar’s words, “Bairagi has this deep, spiritual, internal quality”), while the overall swara-set resembles the Carnatic Revathi – and also the ‘Insen Scale’ of Japanese court music (as highlighted in Aishik Bandyopadhyay’s intriguing Comparative Study between Indian Ragas and Japanese Scales). Also see Shankar’s derived Bairagi Todi – as well as Parameshwari, Gangeshwari, Kameshwari, Rangeshwari, Jogeshwari, MohankaunsAhir Lalit, and Pancham se Gara.

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—Shahid Parvez Khan (2021)—

[refrain, e.g. 5:01] P/n\P, n S r, r/m g/m, (m)rS, P/n\P, n(Sn) S r


• 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: (none found)


–Swara Geometries–

Core form: SrmPnS
Reverse: SRmPNS
Negative: 3-1-1-2-2-1-2 (e.g. Jogeshwari Panch.
Imperfect: 2 (re, Pa)
Detached: 1 (re)
Symmetries: none
Murchanas: Shivranjani set


–Global Translations–

Carnatic: ~Revathi
Jazz: Phrygian Dominant (no 3rd/6th)
Pitch classes (‘fret-jumps’):

o o • • • o • o • • o • o


• Tanpura: Sa–Pa (+ni)
• Names: Bairagi, Bairaga, Bairgi Bhairav, Bairagi Bhairon, ~Kshanika


—Rashid Khan (1997)—



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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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