Seldom does it happen that a voice almost epitomises the conventional image of a raag. But Kirana gharana maestro Bhimsen Joshi’s stentorian voice almost gives a sonic shape to the austere and majestic raag Bhairav that Hindustani music aficionados are so accustomed to. The third part of our series on Bhairav ( you can read the first and second parts here and here) features a rendition of the morning raag by Joshi.

Here are two compositions in raag Bhairav recorded at a live concert by Joshi. These also include a few bhajans performed by him that are not composed in the same raag.


The recital begins with a brief aalaap, or introductory movement, which concentrates on the lower octave and moves up the middle octave to seamlessly introduce a vilambit or slow khayal set to Teentaal, a cycle of 16 matras or time units. Joshi enunciates the bandish or composition in his characteristic open-throated voice.

Using the words of the song-text to navigate through the important tonal areas of the raag, he ascends to the tonic in the upper octave. After a powerful delivery of the swaras or notes in the upper octave, Joshi moves to taans or swift melodic passages.

They are alternated with a reiteration of the mukhda or the first few words of the sthayi, the first line of the bandish. He also reaches up to the upper tonic every so often after volleys of taans. In fact, he even pushes forth for a clear delivery of the madhyam and pancham or the fourth and fifth swaras of the upper octave. Interspersed are moments when he incorporates short layakari or rhythmic interplay.

The second composition is a drut or fast khayal in Teentaal. The tempo is firmly maintained by an almost staccato rendering of the mukhda that alternates with a series of taans sung in double tempo.

Tabla and harmonium accompaniment are provided by Shashikant Muley, more popularly known as Nana Muley, and Purushottam Walawalkar.