• Raag Surdasi Malhar •


A combination of melodies from the Malhar and Sarang ragangas, said to have been created by Saint Surdas: a blind 16th-century poet-musician renowned for his evocations of Krishna amidst themes of shringara and bhakti. The raga which bears his name is described by Tanarang as “uttarang-pradhan, with general movement around taar Sa…[lyrics] are dominated by descriptions of clouds, thunder, and lightning…in comparison to other Malhar forms, this raga is less deep…”). Ocean of Ragas advises that “shuddha Dha is used in avroh in a peculiar fashion, as [SnDmP; PnDP]”, also pointing to the influence of Sorath – and noting two additional variants (“one without Dha, and another with komal ga, favoured by Dhrupadyas”).

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Aroha: SRmP, nDmPNS
Avroh: SnDmP, nDPmRS

Chalan: e.g. SmRm; (m)RmP; DPmR; RmP; nDmPnDP; PDPmR; NSRS; mRNS; SnDmPnDP; PDPmRm; NS (Bor/Dasgupta)


—Venkatesh Kumar (2016)—

[refrain, e.g. 1:11] PnP m(R) RSNS (P)S, (nD)n (DP)D (P)m; PnP m(R) RSNS (P)S, (nD)n (DP)D (P)m…


• More •

Histories, melodies, mythologies, etc…

—Imagery: Surdas (c.1480-1580)—

Surdas’s meeting with Akbar, the Mughal em­peror, came about in a fortuitous manner. The Emperor praised Tansen for his musical skill, but wondered if there was anyone who sur­passed him at singing. Tansen mentioned Surdas’s name. A meeting was arranged, and Surdas be­came a favorite of Akbar. But Akbar did not pester Surdas to sing his praises: only once he issued that command did Surdas sing in praise of Krishna. The song im­pressed Akbar…”


• 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: Miyan ki Sarang, Samant Sarang


–Swara Geometries–

Core form: SRmPDnNS
Reverse: SrRgmPnS
Negative: 5-2-1-2-2 (e.g. Adbhut Kalyan)
Imperfect: 2 (Dha, Ni)
Detached: 1 (Ni)
Symmetries: none
Murchanas: none


–Global Translations–

Carnatic: ~Narayani
Jazz: Bebop Dominant (no 3rd)
Pitch classes (‘fret-jumps’):

o • o • • o • o • o o o o


• Tanpura: Sa–Pa
• Names: Surdasi Malhar, Sur Malhar


—Nikhil Banerjee (1984)—



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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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