Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Raga of the Gurus.....and Western choirs!


I'm not a classical music aficionado but I love music, especially Hindustani classical music and I basically follow my ear to find and listen.
This morning - a gorgeous blue-and-gold winter morning - I was looking for early morning ragas and found this gem of a raga...


A name that conjures up a fragrant, little, white flower blooming in the soft-grey semi darkness of dawn….

And so it is – a calming, stilling raga that belongs to the illustrious Bhairav thaat of early morning ragas, which is performed just after dawn. And perhaps because of the soothing sound of its swaras, it’s also a raga that is sung usually in summer.
More importantly, this raga is said to uplift the spirit and so is  a favourite of yogis and bhakti saints, especially of the Gurus of Sikhism. But it’s special place is in Guru Granth Sahib, where of the 31 raga compositions, Ramkali is the 18th and many of the Granth Sahib’s most well-known celebrated compositions are composed in this raga.

But as I trawled Youtube, listening to so many renderings of the Granth Sahib in this raga, I stumbled on an astonishing thing….

Apparently, the raga somehow caught the ear of Ethan Sperry, an American composer and professor of music and he composed a Raga Ramkali choir piece which has been performed by hundred of choirs, not only in the US but also in Europe!

And so, the gentle, uplifting fragrance of this raga wafts through my mind today as I hope it will yours.

Naturally, I cannot end without doing two things.

One, sharing the great Pandit Bhimsen Joshi performing this raga

And two, answering the question – does Ramkali find a place to sparkle in the massive treasury of Hindi film music? Yes – but apparently in two songs and here is the more famous of them….

No comments: