Ram Narayan - Rag Bhairav

Rag Bhairav Music A2 set work 2012

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  • An example of North India music
  • Similar to the chamber music of the Western classical tradition - performed to a relatively small audience
  • The 'rag' is traditionally performed in the hour immediately following sunrise
  • 'Rag' - the scale and melodic content used
  • 'Tal' - refers to the rhythmic pattern used
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Rhythm and Metre

The piece moves from slow, rhythmically free improvisation to a clear pulse and energetic rhythmic patterns

The rhythmically free section (alap) at 1-13

The jhor (14-18) is marked by a more dicernable pulse

The jhala (19 onwards) is distinquished by the presence of the tabla

- The tal is based on a tintal (16-beat) rhythmic cycle, subdivided into four vibhags of four beats each.

- Shorter note values

- Triplets

- 'Irregular' groupings

- Various types of dotted rhythm

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  • Draws on a rag with a flattened second and sixth
  • A range of three octaves
  • Improvisatory elaborations - underlying set of pitches associated with the rag
  • Frequent grace notes
  • Microtonal inflections
  • Slides
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Harmony and Tonality

  • No real harmony - only drone provided by tampura
  • Tonality is non-functional in Western music.
  • No modulation, but a tonal gravitation is evident from the drone. The rag homes in on C, with many phrases ending on C
  • The rag is characterised by augmented 2nd interval
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  • Opens with the alap - slow improvised section introducing the pakad/melodic cells (1-13)
  • The johr is marked by a stronger sense of pulse (14-18)
  • The jhala introduces the tabla to create a strongly marked 16-beat pulse/tintal (19 to end)

- The jhala is based on the gat (existing composition) and has an accelerating pulse, a wider melodic range and shorter note lengths

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Texture and Timbre

  • Consists of a melodic line (sarangi) with drone accompaniment (tampura) and later in the music tabla providing percussion, involving contrasting timbres
  • Sympathetic strings on the sarangi result in the characteristic sound of this music
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