Category Archives: Swar and Raga

Our Recent Performances in Apollo Foundation

Breezy Sunday evening it was, when we reached a pleasant, cute little area amphitheatre in Apollo Hospital. Cute because it was a compact one having the occupancy (stairs) of may be just 100 people. The venue did not disturb any other architectural aroma of the well-built hospital. I reached to see my students already seated grabbing the staircases. It was highly embarressing. Anyways, I greeted, wished everyone: met and encouraged my students and of course praised them as they all were in Sarees (girls) and Kurta-pajama (Males); wished Vani ji-the main person behind all this (Founder of Bharatiya kala Samskruti) Met and selfied with Snehal Ji my co-performer. The tabla person, Shobha Ji-another volunteer of BKS and my friend, I met Vinaya Mam whom I invited for lighting lamp. I think thats when the program started by we (Dignitaries, me and Snehal) on stage, presenting and receiving fruits and lighting lamp.

Program started with a beautiful Saraswati Vandana by  two talented girls -Srijitha, and Srijanya, followed by an interesting Sanskrit play by the kids of BKS which had a great significance. I loved the interest and accuracy of pronunciation with which the students were performing. After Vande Mataram by everyone, Snehal and I started the Jugalbandi recital by Raga Multani followed by raga Maru Bihag.

Raga Multani

Raga Maru Bihag

I am highly overwhelmed to perform not only because I thought sane very well but more because I was enjoying while singing without even a speck of thoughts shifts on audience, lights, incorrect stuffs by me etc. however, the tabla pitch did not seem matching but I continued as it was of no use. Table person thought he is CORRECT 🙁   Anyways, the point is I had a great time overall and in addition, I got a lot of applauses later which is temporary I know (So that’s not an elating factor).

Segment-2 was the students or group performances by our students. After Snehal’s students performed, my females students group started off with raga Bihag which went absolutely superb and beyond my expectation. It was again an ecstatic moment for me because the students are not at all the kids who are good at grasp or who are always in touch with their practices or controlled by parents. They are the IT-professional who spent most of the time, even late nights, in their offices. The only aspect which got them their was their immense interest and guts to learn music after prolonged hectic schedules. Moreover, they are adults of course, so its anyways harder to grasp the classical music stuffs. STILL THEY REALLY WORKED HARD AND PERFORMED….SO HUGE ROUND OF APPLAUSE TO THE GIRLS!!!! BTW, it was their first time on stage!!

Raga Bihag

 

Another recital was by the boys, who presented raga Bhimpalasi. It went very well but lacked in practice. Shubhrajyoti, (the black kurta) performed really great and I was overjoyed by the fact that he will really flourish in music.

Raga Bhimpalasi

Last but not the least was the performance of my two favourite tiny lil students, combination of utter mischief, intelligence, innocence, cuteness, musical-ness, GEETHA & ARJUN. I do have many kids-students but not so serious and dedicated like them. I liked the way they  first introduced what they had to sing and started off. There was not even a pinch of nervousness on their faces. They recited Raga Bhupali and raga Yaman. GOD BLESS 🙂 Here is the performance:

Raga Bhupali and Yaman by Kids:

 

Great Performances!!!! KUDOS!! HATS OFF!! APPLAUSE!!  CLAPS!! TO ME 😉

Niladri’s Magic with Strings!!

The first time I heard Niladri Kumar was at kamani auditorium, Delhi, but was unable to perceive the uniqueness of his playing as he was super fast. The gat was going literally out of anticipation for me; tala was racing with my mind  and went far beyond the sam till I realized. Therefore, my final judgement of him was, “too fast”. The next time I heard him was in the advertisement of Taj mahal tea when again he seemed to demonstrate the tidal waves but I observed the kids danced at the ad. Then I realized why he is popular among the youngsters. Sometimes one needs to plummet down back to kids thinking level to inculcate any art among them. Niladri Ji did the same. Kids and youths are fascinated with the fast tempos and that’s exactly what he is up to.

The other day I heard him in a video floated through whatsapp and I was just mesmerized. He was endorsing an event tieing up with Madhuri Dixit and he played her movie songs like dhak-dhak, Mera piya ghar aaya, Ankhiya milau, and all her rocking ones. He made the audience and Madhuri so engrossed that nobody could make out what instrument he was playing. Have a look:

Zitar was the instrument he was playing which is his own creation. Zitar is the  cool combo of sitar and guitar (electric) having a beautiful maroon color. This indicates the passion, perseverance and lifetime practice of the maestros with which they land up to their innovative inventions of instruments transcending the level of classical music.

Guru Pt. Ravi Shankar might be smiling proudly above to watch his student being compared with him indirectly in the concert last evening in the Vishalakshi Mantap, Bangalore. His scintillating performance uplifted immensely with the lethal combination of Padmashree Pandit Vijay Ghate on Tabla. The concert titled ‘Soul to soul’, unfolded the Raga charukesi with its startling approach towards aalap and superfluous, beyond anticipation, fast renditions on higher octaves.

Apart from Charukesi, they both extended the event by presenting some fast track medleys maintaining the comity of the deep-rooted classical art. The intricate versatile and doughty rhythms by Pt. Ghate injected the natural bliss and metanoia among the audience.

 

 

3D-Aspect Of Music

Music is studded with varied faces and has an immense power of altering human’s life for better. Usually music is considered in three prime forms: Gaayan, Vadana, and Nritya or singing, playing (instrumental) and dance. These three aspects has its individuality and integrity both at the same time. In other words, playing, singing, or dancing can be performed and would implicitly be called music even if they are executed solely. As in, you can enjoy the vocals with or without instrumentals and dance, or vica versa. Hence we find the musical aura much identity-oriented and unified as well.

With this aspect of music, can you associate music with some other faculty? Probably our mind. Our mind implies the same temperament if we take time to examine it. Believe me, the mind cooperates us much more than we think it is. If we keep it single-sided directing it on one object, subject or field, it will make us master that individual area. On the other hand if we multi-direct it  to the plethora of subjects and areas, that will culminate the mind and destiny work in multi-dimensions in various fields making one more versatile, competent and all-rounder.

The story of a young Bharatanatyam dancer Lakshmi Raj clearly illustrates the theory much clearly. Her specialization since childhood was corporate marketing. Like many other routined IT-freaks and monotonous traders of happiness, she  too graduated and mastered in business marketing to work with Logistic companies as a business developer. However, Indian classical dance prevailed in their family liking but overlooking the reality and hanging on the conservative affairs is what Indians are good at. “My mother aspired to be a dancer herself when she was young but she grew in a rather conservative society where in the ancient India, dance was considered to be performed by the girls of low society to entertain the Royals. Hence she never got a chance to pursue her dream.” Says Lakshmi. To have a prestigious education and job, she pursued the IT and marketing.

Around two decades back, to accompany her introvert sister into dancing area, she joined dance since when she starting delving deep into the dance world.

“My mother got my sister into a Bharatanatyam class very close to where we lived in order to make her dream come true through her daughter. It was my good fortune that, to the fear of new faces and the sound of the ‘Tatta Kazhi‘ (beats) my sister would do nothing but cry in the class; so to give her company, I was introduced to the world of dance and since then there is no stopping.”

Lakshmi started her dance journey by receiving training from my ‘Guru’ (mentor) Ms. Lata Raman for the last 18 years now.  She realized her mechanical, cliched life and non-contented money-making scenario in marketing job and give it an end entering purely into the nritya-sadhana.

Lakshmi lives in Boston and is a well-known Bharatanatyam performer in the States performing in the events like Telugu association of Greater Boston.

“My sister and I did a duet dance for a dance reality show in 2001 on Star Plus (India’s leading family entertainment channel). We even won the title for that show named ‘Kya Masti Kya Dhoom‘ that was the first time I was on television and happens to be the most memorable one!” Lakshmi shares ecstatically.

Whether or not we are cognizant, our mind and brain attains an incomprehensible power of attaining knowledge at any age. Now It depends on how we want to walk on its  unfathomable circumference. Whether we deplete our mind in dwelling the normal unwanted routined life just for the spondulicks; or we choose to stop by, contemplate on what exactly I want in  life and grab the bite of the related knowledge.

Technique To Remember and Vocalize Komal and Teevr Swaras

Out of the blue, while vocalizing natural note-phrases for a long time, you are asked to sing the Re-Komal that is Re-Flat. Now that’s the puzzling, tension-some era. More than 90% of my beginner students, or even amateurs get the jimjams and go wrong, out of tune, when asked to switch from natural notes to Komal. And why not? this is one of the most reasonable and possibly appropriate timings to get puzzled especially when you have started randomly without pondering over it for a few seconds.

 Normally, flat or komal denotes dull, faded version of the notes. Sharp or teevr denotes dominating or acute, ready to invade. Komal is the Hindi word for ‘soft’ and teevr refers to ‘tez‘ or clever. Thus, the first step is to perceive and grasp these terms clearly by imaging them as the meaning indicates.
Technique To Remember and Vocalize Komal and Teevr Swaras

Technique To Remember and Vocalize Komal and Teevr Swaras

 The proper sequence of the 12 notes in a chromatic scale or in the realm of 22 shrutis are:
 S  re  R  ga  G  M  ma’  P   dha   DH    ni   NI  SA
  •  upper case denotes shuddha/natural ones
  • lower case+italics+Underlined = komal (re ga dh ni)
  • lower+italics+apostrophe = teevr (which is only ma)
 The good news is that we never struggle to sing the seven natural notes (S R G M P D N) or major scale (C D E F G A B) because that’s the base scale, which is subtly printed in our brain. If you have even a speck of interest in music, you know the seven notes sequence be it what so ever culture or country you belong. Indian system calls it ‘saat shuddha swara‘ or ‘saptak‘ while the western discipline calls it major scale. Major means happy, so these are the happy tunes. 
 Visualize the Location Of Notes
Remember the sequence by hard as it helps visualize the location of note, hence you will grab the tonic ‘Sa’ and grab the subsequent note. Initially its hard to grasp the note, but far much easy to remember the location or diagram you had drawn. For instance, you are asked to track ‘ga’ komal. Visualize, imagine the location of ga komal: between shuddha re and shuddha ga, or at least think that, “I’ve to dim down the natural Ga.” You are all set. 
 Sing the Shuddha Version First
Once you have analyzed the concept of direction in your head, reach the natural destination of a particular note and back it up to dull it. Do not haste to ruin the things. Simply establish the base/tonic note Sa (on whatever scale) and reach out with S R G with G natural and return or back slightly by making the normal Ga to dull/dim. In other words fade the happy Ga to its dull form. This is not only the rational way to vocalize the vikrita swaras (komal/teevr) but also makes you a proficient 12-note singer. It’s actually hard to master singing the 12-notes together at one go.
 Ragas Help a Lot
Another very catchy option to reach out complex notes is: recall the basic ragas you have learnt and experiment the notes taking its help. Let me illustrate. Suppose you are asked to sing Raga Shivaranjini, a pentatonic raga omitting Ma and ni, which you are learning as of now, but don’t exactly memorize the tune at the moment.  In such case, we are all familiar with Raga Bhupali whether as a beginner, intermediate or advanced. Bhupali tunes are well inculcated in our brains so it might surely guide the way through. Fortunately, Bhupali is also a pentatonic scale raga which omits Ma and ni. But what’s the difference: Shivarinjini comprises of Ga komal instead the shuddha one like in Bhupali. Memorize and sing the Bhupali tune structure and dull the Ga in Bhupali, which lands fairly on Shivaranjini. In fact, this is how our 20th century musicians and gharanedaar veterans have experimented the different notes and created the new ragas. 
 Take Help Of The Movie Songs
Last but not the least, the most interesting and engaging way to address the different complex  notes are memorize the movie songs. Lets take Raga Shivaranjini as there are ample of songs in this raga, so if you are unable to bring the Aaroh-avroh in your head, simply hum the popular song “Jaane Kahan Gaye Woh din” from an old movie ‘mera naam joker‘. The first line is exactly the aaroh-avroh of the Raga Shivarajini. Get ready sing all the notes as now you have mastered it.  Similarly, if you unable to grab the lower ni to start raga Yaman’s ni Re Ga, simply remember the song ‘Ye Moh Moh Ke Dhaage‘ as the starting notes of this song is ni-Re-Ga…
 Analyzing the Indian classical  swaras and then pondering upon how they’re selected and combined to make a raga or melody is the most enthralling moments in the journey of learning classical music. Our honorable music legends have created these numerous incredibly scintillating ragas and indeed provided us a plethora of inestimable stuff to brood over and get startled. The only thing we need to do is to contemplate on those stuffs and value the moments, instead of puzzling ourselves with notes.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Twelve Notes In An Octave

We all know that there are seven natural/primary Notes in Indian Music system:

S R G M P D N

Apart from the seven notes there are five other notes which are the flat and sharps of these natural ones.

So, please remember, there are 12 notes (7+5=12) in total.

Let’s talk about these Five Notes

We can also consider them the cousins of the seven natural ones.  We also call them Komal or Teevr.

When we lower the notes half step from their exact location, the notes turn to be called as Komal or flat. Indian Scenario, there are Four notes RE GA DHA NI, which are lowered/flatted/komal from their locations.

They are symbolized as underline the note: R (r Komal)

Similarly, what are Teevr swaras? Teevr means Raised or sharp. When a note is raised half step from their natural positions, they are teevr swaras. There is only one note MA, which go higher. The symbol is ‘a vertical line on the note’.

Therefore, four and one sharp in totality become five cousins of the natural ones.

Vikrita Swar

These five Swaras which have moved from their places are also called Vikrita Swar. Vikrita means not natural.

Now you are wondering what about SA and PA! Don’t they move? Yes, you’re right … they  do not move from their exact places. They are immovable or ACHAL swaras (achal means jo chalet nahi.)

Thus, seven natural notes + 5 vikrita notes adds up to make 12 notes from sa to SA

S  r  R  g  G  M m P  d D n N SA = 12