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RagaJunglism

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Darbar are currently creating an ‘Index of Hindustani Raga’, due to go online later in 2020. I'm writing it - although really, my role is just to turn the expertise of the musicians and scholars into something clear, useful, and broadly communicable. So I'd love some feedback on it - quick summary below.

Basic idea: A free, in-depth, high-quality resource, of interest to students, artists, listeners, and anyone else in the world who wishes to focus in and learn more about the music. While no online index can ever substitute for the instruction of a good guru, we figured that (since everyone uses them nowadays) we should put the very best resources out there for everyone.

Pages: An in-depth web page each for 40 Hindustani ragas (listed below), collating multiple perspectives - e.g. summary, history, mythology, phraseology, compositions, imagery, scale geometry, raga differentiation, global equivalents, analysing great recordings etc. And 10 ‘linking pages’ - e.g. lists, thaats, samay, raga families, geometry, murchana wheels, etc

Principles: Writing is underway, and I'm following these guiding principles - would particularly love to know what you think of these. They derive from research and artist input during my written series for Darbar last year, and from current discussions with Deepak Raja and other scholars, as well as my own experiences in the gurukul and in teaching global music.

  • Artist leadership: direct, detailed input from top performers - e.g. Indrani Mukherjee, Rupak Kulkarni, and many of the artists I interviewed last year
  • Centrality of composition: learn primarily through absorbing sounds rather than memorising ‘rules’ - and encourage much more focus on the infinite ‘spaces between the notes’, which are often given cursory treatment in 'summaries' of ragas
  • Window to more’: the concept of a ‘comprehensive’ raga writeup is nonsensical - readers should be inspired to carry on searching, and so each page will be stacked with avenues for this
  • Fresh sources: new archival materials kindly shared by Alam Khan, Sukanya Shankar, and others - and a very wide collation of existing sources
  • Avoid telling people ‘how to feel’: e.g. choose less mood-specific descriptors (e.g. ‘unresolved‘ rather than ‘mournful’), contextualise rasas (avoid one-word translations), and include varied cultural associations (mythology, artist recollections, paintings, etc)
  • Living forms’: Ragas evolve over time, so why keep these pages static? I'll update them in the future with new input, suggestions, corrections, etc

If you want to get a 'full stack' view of the different viewpoints we're trying to approach from, see my finished draft for Raag Parameshwari - an idiosyncratic modern raga created by Ravi Shankar in the latter half of the 20th century, derived through daydreaming in the back of a car in Bengal. (n.b. Most of the ragas will have more detailed phraseological guidance...I haven't got any artist input on Parameshwari yet, although Pt Ronu Majumdar will be sending some in.

I really want this to be the very best resource it can be - ragas are complex cognitive intertwinings, and must be approached from many angles. And it's not like I'm pulling forth all the raga knowledge from my head - my role is in finding ways to organise, contextualise, and explain the knowledge of the masters. So I'd love any feedback on what you'd find most useful in a raga index!

George Howlett | http://www.ragajunglism.org

 

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RagaJunglism

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Reply with quote  #2 

These are the initial 40 ragas - we'll be adding more in the future, and this list may be tweaked a bit too:

Ahir Bhairav | Antardhwani | Bageshri | Basant Mukhari | Bhairav | Bhairavi | Bhimpalasi | Bhupali | Bihag | Bilaskhani Todi | Chandranandan | Charukeshi | Darbari | Desh | Durga | Gorakh Kalyan | Jhinjhoti | Jog | Jogkauns | Kafi | Kalavati | Kaunsi Kanada | Komal Re Asavari | Lalit | Malkauns | Marwa | Megh Malhar | Miyan ki Malhar | Multani | Parameshwari | Patdeep | Pilu | Poorvi | Puriya | Puriya Dhanashree | Shree | Tilak Kamod | Todi | Vachaspati | Yaman

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Sillofthedoor

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Reply with quote  #3 

Just read the draft for premeshwari.  great stuff. this is really thought provoking and provides different contexts within which to understand the raag.   I really love it. 

 

Not much to add at this point except , and I suspect you are way ahead of me on this, you might like to check The Raga Guide:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Raga-Guide-Survey-Hindustani-Ragas/dp/0954397606.   You are already going further than this publication in some ways though.

 

Another thing is my teacher is Gaurav Mazumdar, his guru was Ravi Shankar,
you might like to get in touch, I think he'd be forthcoming, particularly about individual raags that relate to Pt. R S.  he has a vast amount of knowledge of ICM  and anecdotes about RS and is very invested in carrying such knowledge forward.

 

 

 

 

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Daniel Schlüsselberger

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Hi! Thanks. That is really cool. Would like to have this.
Daniel.
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chrisitar

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Great stuff, George! Looking at the list of 40 ragas I like how there is a good mixture of old and new ragas, and some Carnatic ragas that have been brought into Hindustani.

I wonder about Antardhwani, isn't Pt ShivKumar Sharma the only musician that has performed this raga? That really makes it an outlier, and would provide some interesting comparitive analysis since I believe there is only one recording of this raga. Truly one of a kind! Though to me that makes this raga difficult to apply to your bullet points, but i'd be curious how it would be treated in this context.

It's also good that there are some ragas that use the same swaras, minus the shruti differences (Multani/Todi, Shri/Puriya Dhanashri, Marwa/Puriya, etc.) that would be good to reference one another in their descriptions - as to what phrases are exclusive to one another. When I'm teaching someone about what a raga is, I always demonstrate the differences between two ragas with the same notes - Usually Kafi and Bhimpalasi. I think sometimes people think raga is a synonym for 'tuning' or the selection of notes so that's a very informative way to highlight that it's actually the phrases and melodic rules that make a raga, not just the notes. 

I'd love to see Kirwani on that list, in my opinion it is one of the "big" ragas that almost every performer regardless of Gharana has played, perhaps replacing Komal Re Asawari? 

I also think it would be really important to discuss the concept of gharanas when describing ragas, as sometimes they are treated differently based on the tradition. These differences are mainly in the bandishes/gats that are used within a raga, but I believe tthere are some differences in shruti tuning (Komal Re in Marwa?), as well as choice of tala could be interesting to go into. There may be some differences in melodic patterns of the same raga between different gharanas but I can't think of any. 

May be useful to know that Etawah gharana musicians rarely create new ragas or combine two ragas to make a new raga unlike Maihar gharana. Some exceptions are Imratkauns, Shivawanti, Chandini Kalyan (?) so it may be nice to include one since all the "new" ragas on the list are exclusive to the Ravi Shankar school, just to see how "idiosyncratic" ragas are realized by the Vilayat Khan school. 

Love your writing! Looking forward to reading more 😉

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barend

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Reply with quote  #6 
Good luck with your website. Seems like a very good idea and it's great to have a good resource. I still like the book the Raga guide. On a website you can be even more elaborate and give musical examples etc. like the Parrikar website in the past. Not sure if that site is still online?
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Tomek Regulski

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Reply with quote  #7 
It actually is! I was delighted to stumble upon it just this week after not viewing it in close to 10 years. It hasn't been updated since 2005 (at least the ICM articles), but the site is fully functional, audio files and all!
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RagaJunglism

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sillofthedoor

Just read the draft for premeshwari.  great stuff. this is really thought provoking and provides different contexts within which to understand the raag.   I really love it. 


Thanks! yes, taking varied perspectives seems to be the only way to approach the 'formless form' on a multimedia web page

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sillofthedoor
 

Not much to add at this point except , and I suspect you are way ahead of me on this, you might like to check The Raga Guide:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Raga-Guide-Survey-Hindustani-Ragas/dp/0954397606.   You are already going further than this publication in some ways though.

 


Yes - I have a well-work copy of the Raga Guide, and have incorporated key information from it into my current drafts (also, the accompanying CDs are now on Spotify for free!). Actually Joep Bor emailed me back last week, with some excellent input for how to approach some of the terminology. It's definitely a lot easier for me with the internet and all the multimedia approaches it offers than it was for Bor writing his book...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sillofthedoor

Another thing is my teacher is Gaurav Mazumdar, his guru was Ravi Shankar,
you might like to get in touch, I think he'd be forthcoming, particularly about individual raags that relate to Pt. R S.  he has a vast amount of knowledge of ICM  and anecdotes about RS and is very invested in carrying such knowledge forward.

 


Ah I would absolutely love this...in fact, I have a lot to thank him for! He was the first sitarist I ever saw live, when I was about 13 - a concert with violinist Daniel Hope, a student of Yehudi Menuhin - they were playing the same duets their gurus did (Tilang, Piloo, etc) but with more fire and control. and I ended up branching out from jazz guitar and moved to Varanasi as a teenager to study (for a short while) under Pandit Shivnath Mishra of the Benares sitar gharana...who had also played with Ravi Shankar, another native of the city, in his youth. That concert was a really important part of setting that direction...so yeah I'd love to chat to Gaurav to say thanks as well as ask about Parameshwari etc. What's the best way to get in touch? my email is george@ragajunglism.org

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RagaJunglism

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Schlüsselberger
Hi! Thanks. That is really cool. Would like to have this.
Daniel.


Thanks! Send me some of your all-time favourite recordings if you like...or personal reactions and thoughts on favourite ragas from the list, etc

 
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RagaJunglism

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by barend
Good luck with your website. Seems like a very good idea and it's great to have a good resource. I still like the book the Raga guide. On a website you can be even more elaborate and give musical examples etc. like the Parrikar website in the past. Not sure if that site is still online?


Excellent suggestions...actually I've been discussing the project with Parrikar and Bor already over the past few weeks (some excellent input and suggestions from them on terminology, essential elements, etc), and will be referencing their work in Darbar's for sure. Actually the audio CD for Bor's Raga Guide is on Spotify now...
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RagaJunglism

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomek Regulski
It actually is! I was delighted to stumble upon it just this week after not viewing it in close to 10 years. It hasn't been updated since 2005 (at least the ICM articles), but the site is fully functional, audio files and all!


Yes...Parrikar's site is fantastic. He's given me a couple of good pointers for this project directly, e.g. cautioning about using 'swara' and 'note' too interchangeably without clear explanations in-line, etc. And there are so many old recordings hidden away on his site too.

(Thank god my approaches to raga explanation didn't inspire his sharp tongue:, e.g. from his 2002 Bhairavi article "A musician with years of rigorous taleem and not much else is little more than a well-trained dog. This point cannot be underscored enough, for the Hindustani firmament is littered with the droppings of these “lakeer-ke-faqeer” chumps, these viveka-atrophied baboons...")
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RagaJunglism

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisitar
Great stuff, George! Looking at the list of 40 ragas I like how there is a good mixture of old and new ragas, and some Carnatic ragas that have been brought into Hindustani.

I wonder about Antardhwani, isn't Pt ShivKumar Sharma the only musician that has performed this raga? That really makes it an outlier, and would provide some interesting comparitive analysis since I believe there is only one recording of this raga. Truly one of a kind! Though to me that makes this raga difficult to apply to your bullet points, but i'd be curious how it would be treated in this context.



Haha hi Chris! Yes, Antardhwani is a bit of an outlier. We've thrown in a couple of modern creations, but this is odd in that only Shiv-ji (and who knows, maybe a couple of students now) have ever performed it. But since he played at Darbar last year we're hoping to get some input from him about it...thankfully he seemed in good health last year in London, but it's all the more important to document and preserve the thinking of the great masters directly. It's such a unique raga (half-finished draft here), and he's usually very eloquent and insightful when discussing his own music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisitar


It's also good that there are some ragas that use the same swaras, minus the shruti differences (Multani/Todi, Shri/Puriya Dhanashri, Marwa/Puriya, etc.) that would be good to reference one another in their descriptions - as to what phrases are exclusive to one another. When I'm teaching someone about what a raga is, I always demonstrate the differences between two ragas with the same notes - Usually Kafi and Bhimpalasi. I think sometimes people think raga is a synonym for 'tuning' or the selection of notes so that's a very informative way to highlight that it's actually the phrases and melodic rules that make a raga, not just the notes. 


Yes, absolutely! That's why I have some of these 'clusters' in there (isn't so evident in Parameshwari as it is scale-unique). In the words of Parveen Sultana, "There is confusion and controversy about defining many ragas, when they share an ascending scale, or a descending, or some other shapes. This is the fault of some gurus who do not teach the ragas properly. A good guru - such as my own - will always say, “Let’s see, this raga you’re singing now. It is similar to this other raga. They might come together, so you must be careful to separate them”. And they will show you how.

So to learn one raga you must know another five along with it, to really know the differences. It is not just ‘Sa, Re, Ga’, and so forth. It is like a game of hide-and-seek. In this way you can say each raga is a mirror of all Hindustani music."

I like using Bhimpalasi/Bageshri/Kafi to demonstrate this as well. And yeah, the internet format allows for quick hyperlinking between pages, graphical representations, sound samples, etc...so this is easier than ever now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisitar

I'd love to see Kirwani on that list, in my opinion it is one of the "big" ragas that almost every performer regardless of Gharana has played, perhaps replacing Komal Re Asawari? 


In retrospect this is probably a good call. Well, we'll be adding more, and I may switch in Kirwani anyway depending on what Darbar have in the archives etc. Komal Re Asavari I've included because it shows the 'branching' between Dhrupad and khayal (as the 'original' Asavari, until Bhatkhande tweaked it to help create the thaat system)

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisitar


I also think it would be really important to discuss the concept of gharanas when describing ragas, as sometimes they are treated differently based on the tradition. These differences are mainly in the bandishes/gats that are used within a raga, but I believe tthere are some differences in shruti tuning (Komal Re in Marwa?), as well as choice of tala could be interesting to go into. There may be some differences in melodic patterns of the same raga between different gharanas but I can't think of any. 


Definitely. I'm awaiting artist input on the gharana fine points, as most of the available written sources seem to either be wildly approximate, or long out-of-date, or both. In Dhrupad, not even the Sa is fixed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisitar

May be useful to know that Etawah gharana musicians rarely create new ragas or combine two ragas to make a new raga unlike Maihar gharana. Some exceptions are Imratkauns, Shivawanti, Chandini Kalyan (?) so it may be nice to include one since all the "new" ragas on the list are exclusive to the Ravi Shankar school, just to see how "idiosyncratic" ragas are realized by the Vilayat Khan school. 



Good call - will be fun digging into all this. It can be somewhat confusing, e.g. Vilayat's 'Chandi Kalyan' is indistinguishable from Raag Vachaspati. From Deepak Raja's notes, "The word “Kalyan” establishes the raga’s anchoring in the Kalyan parent scale, and its affinity to Yaman, the main raga of the Kalyan scale. The prefix “Chandni” alludes to the precedent of Chandni Kedar which comes into being by replacing the Shuddha Ni of Kedar with a Komal Ni."


Or just Vilayat being Vilayat: 'Enayat Khani Kanada' is his reinterpretation of Darbari that alternates shuddha ga and ni with their komal variants...but he originally named it after himself as 'Vilayat Khani Kanada' and only changed it in the 1990s

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Tomek Regulski

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RagaJunglism

(Thank god my approaches to raga explanation didn't inspire his sharp tongue:, e.g. from his 2002 Bhairavi article "A musician with years of rigorous taleem and not much else is little more than a well-trained dog. This point cannot be underscored enough, for the Hindustani firmament is littered with the droppings of these “lakeer-ke-faqeer” chumps, these viveka-atrophied baboons...")


Hahaha - Parrikar's overall tone is legendary, at least as far as I am concerned. 

Kudos to the work being put together here. I haven't had a chance to fully dive into this thread yet, but it's great to see this level of discussion happening!
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chrisitar

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Reply with quote  #14 
Great stuff, George! I'd love to read all this. One thing I could add that may be of benefit, in regard to the Etawah 'idiosyncratic' ragas, is this video recording of my former teacher Ustad Imrat Khan playing his own creation "Shivawanti" which he described as a combination of Madhuvanti and Shivaranjani. I captured this in 2007 in St. Louis when I was his student and it is likely the only recording of this raga. I also have a private recording of Ustadji playing Imratkauns, but there are professional recordings of that raga available as well. I hope you find it useful in your studies and content creation process!



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