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• Raag Yaman •

S-R-G-M-P-D-N-S Among the first-learned and most-performed ragas, Yaman’s influence on modern Hindustani music is impossible to overstate. Linked to the early night hours (‘when lanterns are lit’), the disbalancing effects of tivra Ma – the only non-shuddha swara – allow for a kaleidoscopic emotional range, with Sa and Pa often being skipped in aroha to […]

 

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• Raag Todi •

S-r-g-M-P-d-N-S Pivotal to Hindustani history, the Todi raganga overflows with musical ideas found nowhere else on the planet. Some link its ambiguous geometries with “existential unsettlement”, while others hear “the playfulness of a newborn, content and smiling”. Rajan Parrikar hails it as “the most profound, finespun idea in melodic music…from ecstasy, to frolic, to pathos, […]

 

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• Raag Tilak Kamod •

S-R-G-m-P-D-N-S Mirroring the Western Major scale, Tilak Kamod’s seven swaras offer robust melodic flexibility across a range of sentiments (“heroic courage, philosophic poise, devotional contentment, suggestive eroticism…”). One tale traces the raga to Pyar Khan, a rabab pioneer said to have devised it after overhearing a village woman sing while grinding corn in Uttar Pradesh. […]

 

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• Raag Shree •

S-r-G-M-P-d-N-S According to Gwalior vocal master Omkarnath Thakur, Shree is associated with those sunset hours when “disembodied spirits…become active, and aid in the black magic of Tantriks”. Tied to ancient mythologies of Lord Shiva, the raga takes its name from ‘Sri’, a sacred Sanskrit syllable which in Vedic tradition represents the material nature of humanity’s […]

 

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• Raag Puriya Dhanashree •

S-r-G-M-P-d-N-S Like the scale-congruent Shree, Puriya Dhanashree’s hemitonic clusters outline a major triad (SGP) with the first and last steps ‘enclosed’ by their immediate neighbours to give two sets of three adjacent swaras (NSr, MPd). Pa exerts the strongest gravity, easing the tension of the tivra Ma and providing temporary anchor for melodic lines which […]

 

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• Raag Puriya •

S-r-G-M-D-N-S A prominent sunset raga, Puriya takes the same six swaras as Marwa and Sohini, using them to bring a distinct set of melodic forces. Renditions tend to focus on the low and middle octaves, seeking a fine balance between ascending and descending phrases. Some describe its mood as one of ‘sombre piety’, while others find […]

 

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• Raag Poorvi •

S-r-G-mM-P-d-N-S Poorvi is a long-lived sunset raga from East India, which to many evokes a serious mood of mystical contemplation. Mixing wide and narrow intervals (all swaras have at least one immediate neighbour), its complex twists and turns belie the base scale’s neat, symmetrical nature – with Sa and Pa often being omitted in ascent […]

 

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• Raag Multani •

S-r-g-M-P-d-N-S Multani is an afternoon raga of angular shape and ancient heritage: the name suggests origins in the Multan region, long heralded as a holy site by Hindus, Sikhs, and Sufis alike. In Deepak Raja’s reflection, its Todi-congruent swaras fit with “oppressive afternoon heat…the virtual wilting of the body and mind under the remorseless tyranny […]

 

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• Raag Miyan ki Malhar •

S-R-g-m-P-D-nN-S Derived from the Sanskrit for ‘banishing uncleanliness’, the main raga of the Malhar family is mythically connected to Miyan Tansen, said to have sung it at Emperor Akbar’s 16th-century royal court to summon the monsoon. Still inextricably linked to the rejuvenating effects of rain, Malhar’s twin ni swaras are essential to generating the charged […]

 

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• Raag Megh •

S-R-m-P-n-S Among the oldest surviving members of the Malhar family, Megh (‘cloud’) is said to have saved the life of Tansen himself. Legend holds that great composer’s forceful rendition of Deepak caused the waters and streams around him to boil, and all the oil lamps to burn uncontrollably in Emperor Akbar’s royal palace. His efforts to […]

 

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• Raag Marwa •

S-r-G-M-D-N-S Notable for omitting its own Sa for long stretches, the hexatonic Marwa conjures moods of ‘austere, spiritual renunciation’ – summoning these sentiments with low, slow lines which patiently outline the raga’s highly irregular geometry (three adjacent plus three wide-set swaras). Its descent-dominant melodies often tease at resolutions which never fully arrive. Congruent with Puriya […]

 

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• Raag Malkauns •

S-g-m-d-n-S Among the most revered ragas in the Hindustani pantheon, Malkauns (‘he who wears serpents as garlands’) combines structural simplicity with a nuanced mythological ethos. Said to have been composed by the goddess Parvati to soothe Shiva’s murderous rage, it is associated with states of ‘severe tranquility’, calling on artists to approach with solemnity and […]

 

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• Raag Lalit •

S-r-G-mM-d-N-S Lalit is an oddly-shaped sunrise raga. Among the most influential forms in Hindustani history, its distinctive ‘double Ma, no Pa’ structure has a malleable ambiguity, capable of conjuring flavours ranging from “sadness and anguish to the serene and devotional”. The evenly-weighted treatment of the twin ma swaras leads some to see the tivra as […]

 

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• Raag Kafi •

S-R-g-m-P-D-n-S Perhaps more like an compendium of folk tunes than a fully codified raga framework, Kafi offers unusual chromatic freedoms. Almost always appearing in mishra (‘mixed’) form, renditions will often borrow from affiliated ragas as well as semi-classical styles such as thumri, dadra, and ghazal. Lyrical material tends towards the romantic, matched by free-roaming melodies. […]

 

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• Raag Gorakh Kalyan •

S-R-m-P-D-n-S A spacious, folksy raga of the late evening, Gorakh Kalyan (named for Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh) has fabled links to Saint Gorakhnath – a yogi and mystic-musician said to have travelled throughout the Subcontinent in search of spiritual wisdom and sonic enrichment. Some include only four swaras in aroha (SRmD), leaving room for winding, […]

 

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• Raag Desh •

S-R-G-m-P-D-nN-S Intimately connected to Indian national identity, Desh gives melodic direction to the famous patriotic anthem Vande Mataram, as well as soundtracking dozens of Rabindrasangeet. Associated with the second quarter of night, renditions tend towards the sweet and romantic, borrowing liberally from thumri, hori, and other folk forms. Re is prominent – and the raga […]

 

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• Raag Darbari •

S-R-g-m-P-d-n-S Darbari has been described as “the emperor of ragas, and the raga of emperors”. Its majestic tones famously echoed across the marble floors of Mughal palaces in centuries past, bringing solemn relief to kings, warlords, and diplomats alike. Consequently, renditions tend to retain a grave, reverential patience, laden with heavy, vocalistic ornaments and turns. […]

 

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• Raag Bilaskhani Todi •

S-r-g-m-P-d-n-S A hallowed form, Bilaskhani Todi is fabled to have been created by Bilas Khan: son of Tansen, the legendary composer of Emperor Akbar’s court. On trying to sing Todi at his father’s funeral wake, Bilas found himself so grief-stricken that he mixed up the swaras – however, his panic was allayed on witnessing the […]

 

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• Raag Bihag •

S-R-G-mM-P-D-N-S Created via the artful grafting of tivra Ma onto a Bilawal-oriented base, Bihag contains a wealth of melodic possibilities. Long linked to late evening festivities, its meend-laden tendencies are explored with symmetrical articulations and fluid resolution phrases, guided by nuanced swara hierarchies which may display significant gharana-to-gharana variance. Swara-congruent with multiple ragas, including Chayanat, […]

 

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• Raag Bhupali •

S-R-G-P-D-S Hailed for its structural simplicity, Bhupali is often the first raga taught to Hindustani students. While the same Major Pentatonic scale form is shared by countless global cultures, India’s incarnation (named for Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal region) presents its own quirks – invoking tranquillity and home-bound reassurance with interlinked sliding motions and emphatic resolutions. Shares […]

 

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• Raag Bhimpalasi •

S-R-g-m-P-D-n-S Associated with the invigorating warmth of the late afternoon sun, Bhimpalasi evokes multiple shades of shringara (‘romantic love, erotic desire’). Thought to have arisen from an archaic union between Bheem and Palas, the raga calls for direct, passionate melodic outpourings, balancing a deft pentatonic ascent with the symmetry-inducing addition of Re and Dha going […]

 

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• Raag Bhairavi •

S-r-g-m-P-d-n-S Probably the most prominent raga in the entire Hindustani canon, Bhairavi (‘awe, terror’: after the Fifth Avatar of the Mother Goddess) is a concert-closing staple. Unique in its chromatic flexibilities, the raga may span the full swara spectrum, allowing for a multitude of moods in the hands of a master. Long linked to the […]

 

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• Raag Bhairav •

S-r-G-m-P-d-N-S Revered as the primary raga of Lord Shiva, Bhairav takes its name from Kala Bhairava (‘fearsome form’) – an apocalyptic manifestation of the deity fabled to have cut off one of Brahma’s five heads to silence his arrogance. Renditions reflect the gravity of this ancient lore, depicting Shiva’s tandav (‘dance of destruction’) with wide-roving […]

 

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• Raag Bageshri •

S-R-g-m-P-D-n-S An ancient raga of the late night, Bageshri is associated with vipralambha – the profound longing felt by a separated lover. These sentiments are reflected in its multipolar phraseology: artists may resolve to Sa for a clustered, inward-turning feel, or to ma for a more open sound – often seen as symbolising two lovers, […]

 

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• Raag Asavari •

S-rR-g-m-P-d-n-S An antique late morning raga, Asavari comprises two main variants: an older, Dhrupad-favoured ‘komal re’ form, and a more recent set of ‘shuddha Re’ offshoots. Both call for complex connective motions and expressive oscillations on dha, which may be tuned ati-komal. Classical ragmala paintings often depict Asavari as a female snake-charmer sitting atop a […]

 

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• Raag Ahir Bhairav •

S-r-G-m-P-D-n-S Inextricably linked with the Indian sunrise, Ahir Bhairav draws on ideas from both the North and South of the Subcontinent. Possibly named for the Ahir cattle-herding caste, the raga is fabled to mimic the ringing of cowbells at dawn – with patient ascent patterns often settling into extended oscillations on the komal re (seen […]

 

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• Raag Shahana •

S-R-g-m-P-D-n-S A late night raga, Shahana (literally: ‘of royal demeanour’) is a close cousin of the more famous Bageshri, sharing the same swaras but focusing more on the use of shuddha Dha as a melodic endpoint. Usually classed as a member of the Kanada family, Deepak Raja notes that Shahana is linked in medieval texts […]

 

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• Raag Arun Malhar •

S-R-G-m-P-D-nN-S An ancient Malhar variant, marked out by a DDnPDGPm pakad. As per Rajan Parrikar, “although it finds a mention in [Bhatkhande], no details are forthcoming. There are a couple of other works where the raga is treated, but again only in the sketchiest of terms”. Described as a mix of Bilawal, Gaud Malhar, and […]

 

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• Raag Shuddha Malhar •

S-R-m-P-D-S [summary] • Home | Megalist | Tags • —Lalith J. Rao (1994)— [Swaras] • 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: […]

 

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• Raag Deepak •

S-R-G-m-P-D-nN-S [summary] • Home | Megalist | Tags • —Ghulam Mustafa Khan (2002)— [Swaras] • 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: […]

 

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• Raag Adarangi Todi •

S-r-g-mM-P-d-nN-S A double-ma, double-ni Todi variant linked to 18th-century composer Naimat Khan ‘Sadarang’ and his nephew Feroze Khan ‘Adarang’, who served at the court of Mughal Emperor (and prolific arts patron) Muhammad Shah. While the raga’s historical lineage remains half-sketched, Ali Akbar Khan took to performing it later in his career. Sometimes given the alternate […]

 

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• Raag Ahiri •

S-r-g-m-P-D-n-S Somewhat resembling a ‘Bageshri komal re’, ‘Ahir Bhairav komal ga’, or ‘Patdeep komal ni’, Ahiri favours long, kaleidoscopic melodies, laden with shapes from nearby ragas. Many artists give special prominence to an ‘equilateral triangle’ of nyas (r-m-D), while also drawing from its murchana-set neighbours Patdeep, Charukeshi, and Vachaspati. Matches the Carnatic Natakapriya, although ultimate origins remain mysterious. […]