• Raag Parameshwari •

S-r-g-m-D-n-S


A mellifluous modern form created by Ravi Shankar in 1968 (…while sitting in the backseat of a car). While somewhat resembling a ‘Komal re Bageshri’, its unique hexagonal shape summons its own moods and tensions.


Swaras | Context | Listen | More

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Aroha: SrgmDnS, DngrS
Avroh: SDnD, Dm, mgrS

(Shadav 6:6 Shadav)
Time: Late morning
Signatures: gmDnD, SDmgrS, DngrS)

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–Ravi Shankar & Alla Rakha (1971)–


“As a composer I’ve tried everything: even electronic music and avant-garde. But as a performer, I am…getting more classical and more orthodox, jealously protecting the heritage that I’ve learned.” (Ravi Shankar)


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—Context—

Origins, myths, quirks, & more


Parameshwari is a recent creation, dreamed up by global sitar icon Pandit Ravi Shankar in the late 1960s. His wife Sukanya later recounted its origin tale: “The inspiration for this raga goes back to Chengali, a little village near Kolkata. During the filming of [Raga], Ravi-ji travelled to Chengali in the morning sometime in March 1968. While riding in the car, he conceived the nucleus of a melodic form…[it] has flashes of known ragas Bageshri, Bhairavi, and Bilaskhani Todi, but it is pure Ravi-ji”.

 

The Pandit’s approach to adding colour to the new form naturally reflected his predominant musical inclinations. He found fruitful harvest in forceful fretted motions and dense, looping taans, exploring rare rhythms with Ustad Alla Rakha’s tabla – notably the ancient dhamar taal (14 beats). The swara sequence is irregular, and packed with half-resolving intervals – three of the six notes (SrD) have no perfect fifth above them, while two of them (rD) are also ‘perfectly isolated’, with no fifths above or below (many scales contain no such notes). For a raga derived from geometric abstraction, it contains few clear regularities within itself.

 


(n.b. This page is only a quick preview: full analysis to follow…)

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—Listen—

A brief selection of superb renditions


Ravi Shankar & Alla Rakha (1970)

  • Naturally, Shankar’s originals are essential: e.g. the 1970 album take below, and the 1971 ‘Hollywood’ take above, recorded at a friend’s house in L.A. (“slow gat in tintal…fast gat in ektal“):

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Ronu Majumdar & Sukhvinder Singh (2015)
  • Majumdar’s invigorating renditions are dedicated to Shankar – one of the bansuri master’s many gurus. Sukhvinder ‘Pinky’ Singh attacks tintal with force on deep-toned tabla:

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Further Recordings

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—More—

Further info: links, listenings, learnings, etc



Hindustani Raga Index

An open, collaborative project, aiming to bring North Indian raga closer to any who approach with open ears. Combines direct input from India’s leading artists with in-depth insights from history, global musical theory, cognitive science, and much more! [out 2022-23]

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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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