21 July 2010

What musical instrument is most "human" in its affect? The violin? The erhu? No no, how about the sarangi? Its sound has been likened to the plaintive cry of the human voice. It's also painful to play, as the strings are stopped not by the fingertips, but by the fingernail or the first knuckle, and that carries a certain existential satisfaction. A show for sarangi fans this Wednesday. (At right, smokin' sarangi fingers.)

Set #1 - 8:00am - 9:00am

1. Raga Lalit (rec. 1987)
Ram Narayan - sarangi, Suresh Talwalkar - tabla, Neil Sorrell & Elizabeth Haddon - tanpuras
Nimbus Records, NI 5183
(Scale: C Db E F F# Ab B emerges out of the pre-dawn silence. The "odd", scrunched-together intervals suggest instability in the natural world at the transition between night and day.)

Set #2 - 9:00am - 10:00am

2. Ragamalika (Medley of Ragas)
Ananda - voice, Jana Starling - clarinet, K. S. Mani - violin, Anand Bala - mrdangam [double-sided drum]
Ananda: Treasures
Tantra, TSMV9701
(Our weekly raga guide, beginning with South Indian Shankarabharanam, which happens to share its interval structure with the Western major scale.

Note how the mood changes from carefree to tense round about 2:25 as D and B are flattened and E and A jettisoned, turning the composition into the pentatonic ragam Revathi (C Db F G Bb). Fortunately for us Ananda sings the note names: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa (same as Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do), which facilitates following along.

At 4:35-ish the mood brightens thanks to the sudden introduction of a major 3rd above tonic C. It's the pentatonic ragam Valachi, C E G A Bb....)

3. Raga Yaman
("This raga is simple and elegant in nature, yet it expresses the purity of guiltless love." Scale: Lydian mode, C D E F# G A B. Playtime: 9:00pm - midnight.)

4. Raga Jan Sammohoni
(Title means "people's favourite". Scale: same as Valachi, above. Playtime: Evening, night?)

Tracks 3-4
Ramesh Mishra - sarangi, Polash Gomes - tabla
Reminiscence: Sarangi Solo by Pandit Ramesh Mishra
Rageshree Music Institute, RMI CD 102

Set #3 - 10:00am - 11:00am

5. Raga Jaijaivanti
Rais Khan - sitar, Sultan Khan - sarangi, Sabir Khan - tabla
Together Again: Rais Khan & Sultan Khan: Sitar & Sarangi
Audiorec Classics, 766032 1037-2
(Description TBA: It's a complex raga with shades of other ragas that I am just starting to get my head around. You may want to consult the episode of January 13th. Playtime: midnight - 3:00am.)

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