Last week, we began a short series on raags that include the use of two varieties of the same swara in chromatic succession. Except for the tonic and fifth, all other swaras have two varieties – komal and shuddha. In the case of the fourth or the Madhyam, the two varieties are conventionally called shuddha and teevra.
Today’s episode looks at Lalit, a raag prescribed for the early hours of the morning. This is a very old raag in the Hindustani pantheon of raags. Most musicians use the komal Dhaivat or sixth, but a few choose to use the shuddha Dhaivat. But the commonly recognised characteristic feature of this raag is its use of both varieties of Madhyam, which occur chromatically.
We begin with a recording that features Agra gharana maestro Faiyaz Khan on an All India Radio recording. The exquisite manner in which he demonstrates the radiance of the shuddha Madhyam and then teases out the interplay between the two Madhyams is demonstrated in the aalaap or introductory section that precedes the dhamaar that is set to the 14-matra Dhamaar taal.
Gwalior gharana exponent DV Paluskar sings on the next track. He sings a vilambit or slow khayal set to the 12-matra Ektaal followed by a drut or fast composition set to the 16-matra Teentaal. The tabla is normally tuned to the tonic of the vocalist or main instrumentalist, but in this case it is tuned to the shuddha Madhyam. But it does not sound out of place here, because this swara is of prime importance in Lalit.
The following track includes a madhya laya or medium tempo composition set to Teentaal and a tarana set to the same taal. Sung by Amir Khan, founder of the Indore gharana, listeners will note the Persian lyrics in the tarana.
The final track has an instrumental interpretation presented in the form of a sitar-sarod duet by maestri Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, accompanied by Punjab gharana maestro Alla Rakha. They play two gats or instrumental compositions, both set to Teentaal.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.