Raga in Indian classical music is a structured being. Its persona is fashioned by a particular cluster of notes, every of them with a hard and fast melodic place. The behaviour throughout its ascent and descent is kind of outlined. Given this framework, it may be concluded that Indian raga music has an outlined existence, working inside a set of conditions or parameters. Therefore, one typically stumbles upon statements akin to classical music is inflexible, it has a hard and fast identification, and so forth.
The different day, searching via YouTube, I by accident revisited one of my favorite songs, ‘Rasm-e-ulfat’ from the movie, Dil Ki Rahen (1973, lyrics by Naqsh Lyalpuri) composed by the inimitable Madan Mohan. The track remained with me each waking second over the subsequent few days. What was it? I started to analyse. Was it Lata Mangeshkar’s rendition? The tune? Or was it the raga? I continued searching and realised that the composition has attracted many musicians, and YouTube has innumerable renditions of it — from ghazal mehfils and music actuality reveals to worldwide brass bands to the newest one by Hindustani vocalist Rahul Deshpande, who sang it as a tribute to Lata for her 92nd birthday.
Undoubtedly, it’s the rendition and composition that make the track linger. But it’s also the edifice on which the magnificent construction is constructed, which is raga Madhuvanti. Going again to the place we started, let’s outline Madhuvanti — it belongs to Thodi Thaat and resembles raga Multani. It is an audava-sampoorna raga, which suggests it employs 5 notes (in very particular shades) because it ascends and all seven notes because it descends. As per idea, the temper is sringara, of love and romance. Like each different raga, this too has a attribute mixture of swaras, they seem in sure phrases. Having put collectively all this data, let’s hearken to ‘Rasm-e-ulfat’ once more. It is faultless, with no digression, no rule flouted, and no international notice. In different phrases, it’s raga Madhuvanti in its full self. Now, let’s decide a rendition of Madhuvanti from its personal bastion, the khayal. We can juxtapose ‘Tore Gun Gaaon’ by Ustad Rashid Khan with Madan Mohan’s ‘Rasm-e-Ulfat’. The melodic motion of each are roughly the identical, they open in the identical octave. They are “pure” Madhuvanti, and show comparable options. Since each abide by the Madhuvanti idea, the subsequent query that arises is, are they identical?
I explored extra concerning the raga and unravelled two nice compositions in Kannada: ‘Kanasalli Bandavanaru’ from the movie Shruti Seridaga (1987, S. Janaki), and ‘Ninna Roopu Edeya Kalaki’ from Parasangada Gendethimma (1978, S. Janaki). The former – composed by maestro T.G. Lingappa — is a track with catchy phrases, tending in the direction of the upper octave. The latter is an entire shock from Rajan-Nagendra. Cast in a folks idiom, the track fully underplays the drama whipped up by ‘Kanasalli…’. With restrained sensuousness, Madhuvanti is couched in a recent narrative, with minor departures within the background rating.
Ilaiyaraja composed two melodies in Madhuvanti, each distinctive. ‘Enulil Engo’ from the Tamil movie, Rosaapoo Ravikkaikkaari (1979), is superbly rendered by Vani Jayaram. Ilaiyaraja approaches the track in each conventional and fashionable idioms, the alap within the charanam serving because the separator to its twin interpretations. ‘Ilanjolai Poothadha,’ composed in 1986 for the movie Unakavae Vazhgirein comes with a completely totally different articulation. Sculpted within the Carnatic model, the classical Madhuvanti dominates the complete track. It could be very comparable in look to ‘Kanasalli,’ and the Hindustani counterpart to this could possibly be ‘Ajahun Aaye’ from the movie Saanjh Aur Savera (1964, Mohammed Rafi).
Musicologist Deepak Raja, in his essay on Madhuvanti, arrives at an attention-grabbing conclusion. He research recordings of classical musicians like Pt. Jasraj, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Rashid Khan and some others. He recognises that the raga therapy by the senior musicians is totally different from the youthful technology, and he proves this with a technical level. While it is a good level to debate the notion of “structure and identity”, the variations and the sameness have additionally to be understood past the technical. What the technical does to the emotional kinds the essence of music. Madan Mohan was typically criticised for being an emotional composer. “People often criticise me for being melancholic. But if you don’t understand the pain of human life, you cannot make music,” he mentioned. Thus, despite the fact that the rulebook states that Madhuvanti invokes the romantic, for Madan Mohan it summoned disappointment. Each of the composers mentioned right here has seen the raga past its formulaic existence, giving it color and texture from their creativeness.
Extending the metaphysics of Plato to music, the elemental idea of kinds is the likeness of issues and never the sameness. If each track constructs its personal universe from an essence that’s indivisible, then every of these songs turns into a divisible expression of that essence. All songs in Madhuvanti are thus divisible expressions of that bigger essence referred to as Madhuvanti. Sameness, subsequently, lies in distinction. One track in Madhuvanti can by no means resemble one other. The raga is definitely a journey to anuraga, a fusion of the bodily and non-physical states.
It is time we gave some nuance to definitions.