Rarely Heard Ragas – Pandit Jasraj (Audio CD)

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Item Code: ICR138
Pandit JasrajMusic Today(1997)59:26 Minutes
From the CD

I – Raga Purba

The name Purba suggests similarities (chaya), structural echoes, which connect this raga to two better known ragas: Purvi and Purba Basant, the ‘eastern’ (purab) form of Basant. One can see Purvi in the general movement of the raga with, however, a shuddha dha reminiscent of Purba Basant instead of the komal dha of the standard Purvi or Basant; both of these ragas share the same thaat or scale – structure, along with the distinct presence of the komal ma.

What brings out uniqueness of this raga are details: details of chalan, movement over notes, and lagav, the manner and emphasis with which individual notes are projected and characterized. The dha of Purvi is a comparatively unstressed note; it has a more or generally being a simple ni dha pa. In Purba the dha is a stronger note with a different flavour not only because of being shuddha but also because the movement over it is often somewhat vakra or oblique in the avaroha, flexing the svara with phrases such as ni dha, ni pa or ni dha, ni dha pa. The ga and komal ma have a special role and a special mien both individually and in combination. Ga (on which the sam, the initial accented beat, of the vilambit sthayi is also placed) has a presence so strong note in Purvi; but the difference lies in the manner with which ga relates to ma, especially komal ma, as well as to re here. Komal ma in Purba seems constantly to be emerging out of ga, raising its head, as it were, from ga and colouring the whole raga with its own soft, yet overpoweringly sinewy, bhava.

The complexity of the raga may be understood better by analyzing the whole into three distinct clusters of notes: one from lower dha to ga in the middle octave, in what is known as the purvanga, the lower part of a raga – structure. In this cluster, descent is a kind of stepped curve, beginning from ma, many phrases coming to rest at sa. When moving further down, they reach dha, from where the movement tends to be upward, thus imparting distinctiveness to the space between ga and dha. The second cluster is again between dha and ga, in the middle octave. The avaroha (descending scale) movement here is more characteristic of the raga than the aroha (ascending scale). The focal point is shuddha ma. The movement descends from dha or pa and sweeping over tivra ma stoops to ga, from where it lifts up gently but firmly to the ma, dwelling on the svara, and resting the phrase either on ga or moving down to sa. The more marked movement from ga to sa is a straight ma ga re sa, the ma being tivra. The third cluster is between pa and sa, where ni plays the focal role, lifting up from dha and descending to pa. This cluster, however, is not as important in the making of this raga as the first two.

II- Raga Patdipaki

Patdipaki has like Purba carved a space for itself out of different ragas. But it has a kind of complexity which is different from that of Purba. The structure of this raga may be understood as a weave or intertexturing of two different scales or thaats. These can be clearly distinguished from each other. The main structure is in Bilaval thaat.

With this is mixed another thaat structure, but only in the purvanga, that is the lower part of the raga, occupying the space between sa and pa. This may be called the minor structure; though the sthayi of the vilambit bandish uses it as its base. It is also this structure combined with the importance of shuddha dha which gives the raga its name Patdipaki and echoes a suggestion of the better – known raga Patdip. But unlike Patdip, it has a very strong shuddha ga. What marks Patdipaki as dramatically different not only from Patdip but from ragas of the Bilaval family is its noticeable step – like descending avaroha. The raga, in its avaroha, has a graceful lift imparted by discretely projecting every single note, he lagav (the manner of intoning them) being from the note below. This, paradoxically, imparts both a kind of robustness as well as a sense of play to the raga, the whole mood being interlaced with the soft charm of the minor structure with its komal ga.

Among Hindustani musicians the word for what we have called ‘rarely heard’ ragas here is ‘achop ragas’. ‘Achop’ means ‘minor’ or ‘lesser’, and suggests that such ragas do not figure as part of the major or greater part of a gharana’s repertoire of ragas. But it is in this sense alone that they are achop; they are not in any sense lesser or minor in richness of from or ethos. They are often confined in their teaching and rendering to the inner circles of a particular gharana. And in this sense, too, they are ‘rare’.

What makes many of them a rare delight is their complexity and subtle individuality of structure (raga- rupa) and evocativeness (raga – bhava). In musicology, they are described as ‘sankirna’, that is, ‘syncretic’ forms since they carve a unique space for themselves out of two or more well – known ragas. It is the sign of a great master to be able to display their distinct individuality, separating them distinctly from their parent ragas and other ragas which they might resemble. Yet great masters, such as the four presented in this series, also bring their own individual style and vision to the rendering of ragas. It is in the sensitivity with which he can give a unique life to the individuality of a raga that the genius of a master lies. When the raga is achop and sankirna this calls for more than ordinary finesse, since the aim is to revel and even expand and enrich the musical space of a raga which lies in an area between other ragas.

Pandit Jasraj (Vocal)

I – Raga Purba (29:41)
II – Raga Patdipaki (29:45)

Kedar Pandit – tabla
Arvind Thate – harmonium
Kala Ramnath – violin

Recording engineered by Daman Sood at Western Outdoor, Bombay
Sleeve Notes by Mukund Lath

Series Producer: Asha Rani Mathur
CD Design: Satish Sud Graphics Pvt. Ltd.

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