Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No laurels for me

If you are an expert connoisseur of Indian classical music like I pretend to be, you might be aware of this very graceful, very melodious raaga called "Rageshri". Or "Rageshwari", if you are a fan of extra syllables. This raaga has the following aaroha and avroha :

ni(komal) Sa Ga ma Dha ni(komal) Sa

Sa ni(komal) Dha Ga ma Re Sa

The symbiotic and extremely rare non-hostile interaction of the komal Nishad with the shuddha Gandhar in this raaga is what gives the raaga its signature euphony. Rare because the komal Nishad is usually paired with the komal Gandhar with whom it enjoys a very close personal as well as professional relationship. This mutual chemistry has manifested itself in a number of breathtaking raagas such as Asaavari, Bageshri, Bhimpalasi, Malkauns, etc. However, this didn't sit well with the shuddha Gandhar, kind of a jealous soul who, out of spite, decided to be extra nice to the shuddha Madhyam, just to show the komal Nishad that it wasn't the only fish in the sea. And things have been bad between the two ever since. Till now. Rageshri appears to have been the moment when these two decided to lay aside their differences for a while and concentrate on making beautiful music.

But to me there was always this one flaw in the raaga, namely, the anti-climactic entry of the Rishabh (Re) in the closing section of the avaroha. It was kind of a let down. Sure, there had to be a way to connect the Madhyam (Ma) to the Shadja (Sa), but it felt like the Rishab wasn't quite up to the challenge. And so, this led to me thinking, hey, what if I were to remove the Rishab entirely and substitute it with the komal Gandhar instead?

In fact, I realized that basically what I wanted to do was to create a raaga "Jog" like effect in the avaroha. Raaga Jog, pronounced "joag", has the following avaroha :

Sa ni (komal) Pa ma Ga (shuddha) Sa ga (komal) Sa

Notice the similarity? A juxtaposition of komal and shuddha Gandhars, akin to my intent in modifying Rageshri. This juxtaposition would replace the unimpressive, vacuous Rishab with the subdued enigmatic komal Gandhar. The final result being, the avaroha would look something like this :

Sa ni(komal) Dha Ga(shuddha) ma ga(komal) Sa

After mulling it over for a while, it appeared to me that I had discovered quite a winning combination. The unrequited passion of the shuddha Gandhar for the komal Nishad, co-existing with the komal Nishad's chemistry with the komal Gandhar had created the perfect love-triangle of a raaga. I decided to call my concoction "Raaga Jogeshwari". You know, a combination of "Rageshwari" and "Jog". 'Cause "Rog" didn't appear to possess the same pizazz.

And for a few days, I basked in the glory of having a raaga to my credit. But soon, as usual, after engaging in a considerable amount of research involving Google and the enter button, the house of cards I had built came crashing down all around me, ten of spades and all. I discovered that Pandit Ravishankar, the Indian sitar virtuoso, had already been there and as they say, done that. In fact, as if to rub rusty sitar strings into my open wound, he had even named his creation "Raaga Jogeshwari". Not Bandra, not Andheri, but Jogeshwari. Goddammit.

It is said of many people that they were so far ahead of their time that they were never appreciated during their lifetimes. I, on the other hand, will be known as someone who was never appreciated during his lifetime because he was so very far behind his time.


drsundeep said...

Hi there !
Gr8 post ! Very informative, technical, yet doesnt lose the touch with lay people like me! I wish there were others who could explain the technical terms so lucidly! Are you an academecian by any chance? Anyways gr8 going?

Can u explain the concept of Vaadi & Samvaadi swar to me?

gawker said...

thanks dr sundeep. no im not an academician although i do pretend to be one sometimes.

waadi swar is the note around which the entire raag revolves. It is the primary note on which the singer of the raaga dwells for prolonged periods of time. If singing were to be compared to foreplay, then the waadi swar would probably be the nipular region.

The samwadi swar is the waadi swar's less important sidekick. It is the secondary note of significance in the raaga.

Here is some good analysis of the waadi and samwadi in section 2.6

zambezi said...

i will make out with you.i was just thinking, you actually have a decent voice but have never heard you sing.

Anonymous said...

This only goes to "certify" that you are on the right track mate!Good stuff! :)

Hmmmm If you do sing, with all the "Raaga" works, then I think I will call you Pandit Gawker...what with a flowin beard and all?... I think thats sounds just perfect :P

AND I am a singer too u know :D ... but I am a <Hindi>Aam khao, guthliya.n mat gino</Hindi> kinda singer. Meaning - I sing without the knowledge of the raagas and the Do re mi et all...i just eat mangoes u know, don't count the watchamakalit... :D

Keep Writing...!

gawker said...

zambezi : yes, you've missed all my concerts.

chips : thank you, yes, my beard will now be my only claim to musical greatness. And eating mangoes is a great first step towards a career in singing.

Sanjay Sonar said...

A nice blog... Gawker. my copliments. When we think that we have created something, we think so bcoz. the sphere of our knowledge is limited and we do not know somebody else who already had done it. Still that doesn't take away the glory and joy of it. Isn't it. I had similar experiences and my guruji opened my eyes many times. We even name the creation by the same name that's the beauty of it. Have tried singing Rageshri with shudha Nishad. It's a totally differant face of the raga. Just try it. sing at least for 2hrs at a stretch, It will give you ecstacy beyond....

gawker said...

sanjeev : Thank you, I appreciate it.

Regarding your suggestion of singing Rageshri with a shuddha Ni, wouldn't that be akin to Raag Bhinna Shadja? Of course without the Re in the avaroha. Maybe it should be called Raag Bhinna shree.

Unknown said...

great post! tried singing the avroh of raageshwari without a harmonium and couldn't do it. shuddh ga seems a lil weird around komal ni. but of course my favorites are the raags u mentioned so i'm a lil biased. and unpracticed.

also, lmao at jogeshwari!