Ragas in a nutshell
Radha Bhaskar showed what gave each raga its identity.
Photo: S. Thanthoni
Interesting:Radha Bhaskar with Aishwarya Shankar
“Indian music, especially Carnatic music, is a perfect blend of the created (kalpita) - the compositions - and the creative (manodharma) or the improvisations that go into the concert format.
Each raga is a melodic entity with its own identity, and dimensions, and the gamakas are integral to our music without a parallel in the world. The same note has different colours in different ragas, for instance, ‘R' (ri) in Mayamalavagowla and Saveri.
“Mere scale cannot make a raga; embellishments and minute ornamentations are required to bring out the bhava or rakti of a raga. If you just sing the arohanam and avarohanam of Sindubhairavi or Kuntalavarali, it will sound mundane and you definitely don't get the picture or beauty.”
This is the gist of what Radha Bhaskar spoke about and demonstrated with wonderful support from Aishwarya Shankar and K.P. Nandini.
For sampoorna raga, Thodi was taken up and Nandini presented a beautiful essence of Thodi and each sang a few lines of some popular songs, such as ‘Thaye Yasoda,' ‘Thanigai Valar' and ‘Sri Krishnam Bhaja.' She showed that the Gandharam of Thodi has varied colours. The varja ragas taken up for demonstration included Mohanam and Ranjani, and she said that the patterns one can weave are inexhaustible and certain stock phrases give colour to the raga. Though vivadi ragas such as Chalanatta cannot be handled easily like say Mohanam or Sankarabharanam, the elusiveness of the notes also creates beauty.
Radha talked about rakti ragas, where a small phrase gives the image or identity of the raga without traversing the entire scale. Dhanyasi, where ‘PNSDP' gives the feel of the raga, Sahana, and Saveri were taken up.
Ritigowla with ‘nns' (ninisa), a repeat of ‘nishadam' being unique to the raga was Radha Bhaskar's choice for vakra raga and she humorously said that just like some of us are not straight forward and have a streak of crookedness, some ragas are also vakram in either or both ascent and descent. Her short and beautiful alapana of the prati madhyama raga Varali was followed by a few lines from ‘Ka Va Va,' ‘Mamava Meenakshi,' etc.
Suratti was compared to a darshan of the deity, with different alankaram each day of which we never get tired. Likewise each composer/artist presents the raga in his own unique style with colours and shades, and with key phrases such as ‘MGPMR'. The ragas are not built in a day – the process of creation goes on and on. Then she mentioned ragas with plain notes and without gamakas, eg. Pasupathipriya and Kuntalavarali. Radha touched upon Bhashanga ragas (Behag) and ragamalikas with a garland of different ragas.
Radha concluded the programme with a few hints to rasikas as to how to identify ragas, how important is constant and intense listening, to be able to relate to different compositions in the same raga, etc. She also stressed the fact that instead of sabha hopping, it is wise to spend a considerable amount of time in a chosen concert.
Aishwarya Shankar's nutshell presentation of ragas including Mohanam, Ranjani, Sahana and Ritigowlaa was like that of a veteran artist. Melakkaveri Thyagarajan on the violin, Nellai Balaji on the mridangam and H. Sivaramakrishnan on the ghatam gave excellent support.
The programme was interesting, useful and informative. Radha Bhaskar is articulate and reaches out well to the audience. Such interactive sessions both educate and entertain.
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