For the past few weeks, this column has featured raags and song-forms pertaining to the monsoon. In the final episode of this series, we carry renditions of Ramdasi Malhar, a raag that belongs to the Malhar family prescribed for this season. There seems to be no documentary evidence to suggest that the raag was composed by the saint-poet Ramdas or a particular musician by that name.
This raag is more popular with musicians than is the case with Meerabai ki Malhar, featured last week. Yet, it is not widely performed and musicians seem to have varying opinions about its structure. Scholar-musician Ram Ashreya Jha’s structural analysis of the rang, provided by his disciple Dr Geeta Banerjee in her book Malhar Darshan, describes various interpretations, but mentions that the most commonly heard interpretation of Ramdasi Malhar includes elements of the raags Mia ki Malhar, Gaud and Shahana, using the komal and shuddha or flat and sharp types of Gandhar and Nishad, the third and seventh notes.
Here is a rendition of Ramdasi Malhar by Amir Khan, the founder of the Indore gharana. He sings a composition set to Teentaal, a cycle of 16 matras or time units.
Kirana gharana maestro Bhimsen Joshi presents the same composition on the next track. He is accompanied on the harmonium by Purushottam Walawalkar and on the tabla by Shashikant Muley, more popular as Nana Muley.
An archival recording from the All India Radio features Rampur-Sahaswan doyen Nissar Hussein Khan’s presentation of Ramdasi Malhar. He is accompanied on the tabla by Laxminarayan Mishra and on the harmonium by Ghulam Bakar Khan. The recital includes two compositions, the first in a slow-paced 12-matra Ektaal and the second in a quick-paced Teentaal.
We end with a detailed exposition of Ramdasi Malhar by Ram Ashreya Jha, recorded at a public performance held under the aegis of the Doordarshan Kendra. He is accompanied by Muradabad gharana exponent Ghulam Sabir Khan on the sarangi, Mehmood Dholpuri on the harmonium, and well-known Ajrada gharana tabla player Akram Khan.