Ram Narayan - Rag Bhairav

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Form

most Indian music of this sort consists of three sections:

the ALAP (lines 1-13): a slow introduction in free time during which the soloist explores the notes of the rag (backed by tampura). Contains own internal structure with bar 1-9 being pitched around middle register = Madhya saptak but from line 9 moves to a higher register

use of pakad (motifs) and an important one is the mukhra which is used to mark out different phrases of improvisation (line 3)

the JHOR (lines 14-18): not that obvious in this piece and some argue that there isn't one, but slightly quicker with greater sense of pulse 

the JHALA (lines 19-35): entry of tabla signifies greater definition of pulse and faster tempo

although mostly imrpovised does have a composed element to it due to repetition of rhythmic cycle = tal, and the reccurrance of melodic shapes at the start of each tal cycle: compare beginning of line 19, 21, 23

changes of pace from vilambit (slow) to madhya (medium) to drut (fast)

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Melody

melody based around exploration/improvisation of notes from rag Bhairav known as morning/dawn rag)

Rag consists of 7 notes - 7 note rag is known as sampurna jati

a rag is formed by taking notes from the scale of available notes called that

Sa and Pa are known as the aschal swara or 'fixed notes' and are referenced more prominently throughout

every rag has two notes known as vadi and samvadi which give a unique sonority and receive more emphasis: vadi = Dha (double stopping of line 1) and samvadi = Re (begin scalic runs in lines 25-27)

Ga (E natural) is also important since it occurs at the structurally vital start of nearly every tal cycle

Meend: sliding between notes = bar 3

Tan: rapid, scalic runs/flourishes = bar 26

Mukhra: important motifs referenced to which marks structural moments in the improvisation: bar 3

Sruti: microtonal inflections of pitch that characterise the intonation of the lemodic line

predominantly conjunct and scalic (tans)

covers a range of roughly 3 octaves and is quite viruosic: bar 28

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Harmony

much of what is said in melody is relevent here (talk about emphasised Sa and Pa (aschal swaras) and Dha (vadi) and Re (samvadi)

drone created by tampura, repeating patterns of the aschal swara

tabla carefully tuned so that it matches the note 'Sa'

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Instrumentation

Sarangi = has 3 main strings but up to 35 sympathetic strings (that resonate when other strings are played). Notoriously difficult to play, as player must use nails to stop the strings. Meend, Tan, Gamak (fast vibrato that gives the melodic line its idiosyncratic sonority), Sruti (microtonal inflections)

Tampura = long necked fretless, lut-like plucked string instrument with 4 or 5 strings. Very resonant, buzzing and rich in overtones. This timbre is known as jivari

Tabla = pair of hand drums consisting of a small wooden drum ('dayan') and larger metal drum ('bayan'). Played using fingers, palm and heel of the hand - wide range of timbres created through varying hand strokes and positioning of strokes.

rags have a strict rhythmic cycle known as a tal, this specific one is called Tintal (four groups of four beats). All musicians must sound on beat 1 (sam) and the tabla player also marks out beat 9 (khali) as a reference point to where the rhythmic cycle is for the Sarangi player.

the sounds/strokes made by tabla player are known as bols (words) each tal consists of fixed patterns of bols known as theka


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Rhythm

the alap has no metre and is in free time to alow the Sarangi player to explore the notes of the rag in a steady, improvisatory manner

tal = rhythmic cycle of beats around which the tabla player improvises (about 360)

Tintal = name of this particular tal made up of four groups of four beats

sam = first beat of the cycle on which every musician must play

khali = beat 9 marked out by tabla player as a guide as to where the improvisation is within the tal cycle

vibhag = each section of four beats is known as a vibhag. The section that contains the khali is known as vibhag khali

triplets

irregular groupings of notes (quintuplet): bar 32

tempo increases from vilambit (slow), to Madhya (medium) to drut (fast)

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Texture

despite double stopping texture is monophonic throughout, with drone of tampura and percussive bols of tabla

sympathetic strings of sarangi create unique sonority, and the resonant buzzing timbre of the tampura is known as the jivari

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