Friday, June 01, 2007

Raga Malhar and its Effect

The first rains of Bombay happened last evening and my friend & me were lucky enough to get caught in it. Though it also brings memories and fear of troubled times (26/7, as branded by the media), all were happy and smiling, including the leaves on the trees, which got a wash. And in my mind I was elated that the rains responded to my invitation. I had invited them by playing (on my music system) 3 kinds of ‘Malhar’ the previous evening. Sur Malhar by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Gaud Malhar by Pt. Jasraj and Megh Malhar by Rashid Khan.

One of the most unique characteristics of Indian music is the assignment of definite times of the day and night and seasons for performing Raga melodies. There are some Ragas, which are very attractive in the early hours of the mornings, Bhairav or Lalit for example; others, which appeal in the evenings e.g. Yaman & Khamaj, yet others, which spread their fragrance only, near the midnight hour, like Malkauns & Bhopali. Then there are certain Ragas like Malhar and Bahar which invoke the season or the sentiments of that season in the listeners / musician’s mind. No other culture in the world can boast of this kind of richness and depth in the construction of their music.

Now, Raga Malhar comes in various kinds. Slight change in one note here and there in the basic scale of Malhar can turn it into a Sur Malhar or Miyan Ki Malhar. According to the legend, when the summer heat would get beyond tolerance levels of human beings, Tansen, the court singer would sing Miyan ki Malhar (the most famous type and constructed by Tansen himself))…the heat would get drowned in the heavy showers and the great Monsoons of India would announce itself. The same happened last evening bacause of the music by the modern day Tansens (though Rashid Khan doesn’t deserve this adjective). Thats how I the romantic in me choses to look at it.

Coming back to the last evening…cars started honking in gay chaos of the moment, people started running half-heartedly towards the nearest shelter, my leather sandals got wet and amidst all this that special smell arose from the earth…that smell of rains making love to the earth after a gap of one full year!

Then we got into a theater to watch a decent effort by adman Balki, called ‘Cheeni Kum’. The gentleman sitting next to me kept laughing and commenting loudly on every little joke/unjoke of the movie. Reckon the movie is doing good business!

My latest trip:
The two songs I have been listening to almost everyday for the last fortnight. Both are by CSN, both are from their self-titled first album (1969) and both are a trip.
1. Wooden Ships (co-written by Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane and hence appears in their first album too): The song as one of the best opening lines in rock history, “If you smile at me I will understand, that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language"
2. Long Time Gone: This song was written as a response to Robert Kennedy’s assassination

18 comments:

Two With Nature said...

i don't think any one anticipated the thunderous showers yesterday. there was not an umbrella in sight! i guess the bookies made a lot of money...

meraj said...

i remember seeing a couple of umbrellas here and there but yes, i dont think anyone anticipated this one.

Atanu Dey said...

Ho hum. It's been wonderful every day of the week in Pune :)

Anyway, thanks for the wonderful post. I am sure that it your playing of megh malhar that did the trick.

BTW, I am sure that Ustad Rashid Khan in the years to come will deserve to be called another Tansen. The guy is fabulous. Of course, Pt Bhimsenji is out of this world.

Thanks.

nikhil said...

lovely post .. i love wooden ships .. woodenships on the water very free.. free and easy the way we're supposed to be..

please try to listen to song with no name (tree with no leaves) by csny .. in case u havent..

FiNK said...

hello.. long time, no hear.. how's it going? glad to see u'r still blogging .. esp about music! I always learn something new when I read your blog! =)

Hemisha said...

hmmm its such a nice feel to read ur blog. so soothing and amazingly poetic.
mousee

meraj said...

many thanks to all for such appreciation...feels good!

svety said...

ur blog is a revelation...always...

ghaza said...

What !!??

I was tortuously dragged to Cheeni Kum yesterday ......... it is the most USELESS movie I have seen in at least 3 years (Note, the difference between horrible and useless is that a horrible thing has absolutely no potential or class, a useless thing is one that shows a few rare flashes of potential and class and just refuses to persist with any class for the remaining 99.99%

ok, coming back to the actual beauties of life ......... the first rain last week was a wonderful experience, especially since it managed to knock the lights out of our entire campus .......... and there was this guy who had bought one of those funny goggles you get on bombay local trains, with no glasses but two bright blue torch lights beside each eye (you get the picture :) ), so he had been struggling to find some use of this piece of beauty and the black-out provided a perfect opportunity: he could see quite clearly as well as frustrate the life out of anyone else by staring at them, effectively focusing the bright blue light into their eyes ............. and then the watch-man tried to buy them off him, he even offered a pretty high price for just 1 night, but our brave friend did not relent ......... but instead did the smart thing of lending it to the canteen guys so that they could cook some food for us :)

Hemisha said...

i found Gaza's coment very funny and hilarious. laughed a lot. i look forward to his comments.
squeeking and laughing.
mousee

meraj said...

was in sun-dried and absolutely thirsty Nagpur for the last two days on work. first rains of the city happened last evening, when i was on my way to catch the flight back to Bombay. so, ive already been through the the first rains twice...interesting :)

WhiteMoonWatching said...

i love rain. period.

POOJA NAIR said...

Rains are magical. I can never tire of watching the rain from my window. The way the leaves move in the rain. The way little puddles form and the way rain drops splash in these puddles. The way people run helter-skelter. The way some people just surrender to the rains. I love umbrellas – big black ones, bright colorful ones. I love the occasional mist that comes in from the window, I love the sweet smell. Rains are magical. As long as they don’t turn into a storm that is. :)

meraj said...

and leave our ill prepared city and lives of its people upside down!

Dileep said...

rain and music.........its so lovely..nice blog :)

meraj said...

am glad you liked it Dileep...thanks for the appreciation!

Rahul said...

Hey nice write up. Just a small error though, Bhoopali is an evening raaga, as is with most raagas in Kalyan thaat, and not a late night one.

meraj said...

Rahul, thanks for the correction and appreciation!