• Raag Madhusurja •


A Kumar Gandharva creation, inspired by witnessing the plight of a goat as it was led past his house on the way to be sacrificed at a nearby Kali temple. To collate a few common tellings: “When the goat realises, it starts pleading to save its life. The vilambit bandish describes these prayers [‘bachaale mori maata’: ‘oh save me, my mother’]. In drut, the goat realises that its life cannot be saved – and decides that the people carrying it to the altar should enjoy it, crying for the drummer to play loudly to drown out his fears [‘dholiya baja’]…”. Variously described by listeners as “fascinating and distressing”, “modernist poetry in karuna rasa”, and “the sheer essence of crippling pain and helplessness” – while Gandharva himself classified it as a “ragini of Sarang”, focusing his melodies around a ‘bleating’ double-Ma which is often separated from the relief-bringing Pa above. Dha is varjit throughout, as is Ga: despite this swara’s fabled associations with goats (while it’s probably a stretch to say that Ga’s absence represents the goat’s forthcoming removal from this earthly realm, I like the incidental symbolism…). Invented prior to 1966, based on its inclusion in Subbha Rao’s Raga Nidhi Vol.4 (“a midday raga [with] chayas of Madhumad Sarang & Bairagi Bhairav”), and first given widespread release on a 1972 album (along with Bhavmat Bhairav). Also recorded by Gandharva acolytes including Milap Rane and Sadhana Shiledar.

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—Kumar Gandharva (1972)—

[refrain, e.g. 0:07] R/m(RrS), R/mSr, r r(S), R/mSr, S (rS), SrS, m(R) mP/n (n)P, mM m, Mmm, mMm, (m)Mm(r), (m)M mMm, Rm(S), RmRm(S) r(S), (Sn)S, R/m(RS) M(m)m m


• Classifiers •

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

Swaras: -4 | 5 | 6 | 78 | 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 | 32 | Enclosed | 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: SrRmMPnS
Reverse: SRmMPnNS (=Loom Sarang)
Negative: 4-1-4-1-2 (e.g. Bhupali Todi)
Imperfect: 2 (re, Re)
Detached: none
Symmetries: none
Murchanas: Basant set


–Global Translations–

Carnatic: (~Ratnangi)
Jazz: Suspended Pent. (dbl 2nd/4th)
Pitch classes (‘fret-jumps’):

o o o • • o o o • • o • o


• Tanpura: Sa–Pa
• Names: Madhusurja, Madhusuraja, Madh-Surja


—Milap Rane (2023)—




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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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