• Raag Khamaj •


Among the most popular light-classical ragas, Khamaj’s core form matches the ultra-versatile Mixolydian Mode of Western music. Despite being chosen by Bhatkhande as the titular raga of Khamaj thaat, renditions will usually draw on melodic combinations from outside these main seven swaras. Jairazbhoy discusses the evolution of these ‘mishra‘ features as a natural outgrowth of the raga’s “disjunct tetrachords”: the lower of which has a major third (S-G), and the upper a minor third (P-n) – arguing that it is only natural for artists to ‘swap’ this intervallic pattern by adding a komal ga (S-g) and shuddha Ni (P-N), giving SRgGmPDnNS (an effect strengthened by a strong Pa in the tanpura). Described by Tanarang as “light and enthralling, but not sedate…with a husky voice that emits the emotion of painful separation with khatkas…decorated with diverse thumri styles of Punjab, Lucknow, and Benares” (n.b. while the track isn’t really in any particular raga, Khamaj is probably the ‘best fit’ for George Harrison’s sitar lines on The Beatles’ Within You Without You: also see an intriguing 2006 sitar, sarangi, & dilruba cover by the Beatles’ Magic Orchestra).

Raga Megalist (365+) •
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Hindustani Raga Index •


Aroha: SGmPDnS
Avroh: SnDPmGRS

Chalan: variable – pakad e.g. GmPDmG; GmPDnD(P)m; PD(P)mG; mnDn; PDNS (Anand)


—Ulhas Kashalkar (2011)—

[refrain, e.g. 1:32] mG(m)P, n(DnPnP) n(DRSnDnD)P, mG G(m)R, mG(m)P…


• 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: Khamaj thaat, Jhinjhoti, Kambhoji, Khambavati, Sakh, Gaoti


–Swara Geometries–

Core form: SRGmPDnS
Reverse: SRgmPdnS (=Darbari)
Negative: 2-2-3-2-3 (e.g. Bhupali)
Imperfect: 1 (Ga)
Detached: none
Symmetries: mirror (r—P)
Murchanas: Bilawal set

Quirks: maximal‘ (swaras are optimally ‘spread out’)


–Global Translations–

Carnatic: Khamas
Jazz: Mixolydian
Pitch classes (‘fret-jumps’):

o • o • o o • o • o o • o


• Tanpura: Sa–Pa (+Pa)
• Names: Khamaj, Kamaj, Khammaj, Khambaz


—Vilayat Khan (1966)—



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Hindustani Raga Index

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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