Sonic Saturday

Listen: Soak in the many colours of Raag Kukubh Bilawal

This raag is sung across a few gharanas and interpreted differently by them.

Of the Bilawal raag varieties, all of which are prescribed for performance in the morning, Kukubh Bilawal seems to have been sung across a few gharanas. However, it is still rarely heard as compared to Alhaiya Bilawal. In fact, it is also interpreted differently by representatives from various gharanas as will be evident in the recordings featured in this episode, the sixth in the series on Bilawal. Perhaps, an opportune way to celebrate Holi, the festival of colours, would be to soak in the many colours of Kukubh Bilawal.

Broadly, some musicians highlight Rishabh, the second swar or note, and seem to add elements from raags like Jhinjhoti, Jaijaivanti, and Nat, to Bilawal. Others give prominence to Madhyam, the fourth swar, and show elements of Khamaj or Gaud Malhar with Bilawal. In fact, there are other varieties of Bilawal that display a blending of the same raags, with the result that the names of each often confuse not just listeners but also seasoned musicians. At times, the mix is quite imperceptible and is a matter of debate among scholars. In many cases, therefore, gurus advise their disciples to follow the melodic structure suggested by the composition and elaborate upon it accordingly.

Eminent scholar-musician BR Deodhar sings a composition in Kukubh Bilawal set to Rupak, a cycle of seven matras or time units. He is accompanied by Anant Kunte on the sarangi, Mahadev Indorekar on the tabla and Vasant Gurav on the harmonium.


The next track features a recital by Jaipur-Atrauli maestro Mallikarjun Mansur. He sings a composition in the 10-matra Jhaptaal.


Renowned vocalist DV Paluskar sings a composition in Jhaptaal.


Scholar-musician Gajananrao Joshi sings a composition in Jhaptaal that is an integral part of the repertoire sung by Agra gharana vocalists. He follows the first composition with another in a medium-paced Teentaal, a cycle of 16 matras.

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