In the third episode of our series on Hindustani raags that use two varieties (komal and shuddha, or shuddha and teevra) of the same swara in chromatic succession, we move to Shuddha Sarang, a raag prescribed for the afternoon.
Like Jog and Lalit discussed in the previous episodes, Shuddha Sarang is also a very popular raag among vocalists and instrumentalists, and yet, it is unconventional as compared to most other raags in its chromatic use of shuddha and teevra Madhyam or the fourth. However, the chromatic use of these Madhyams is restrained in Shuddha Sarang and is often dependent on whether the bandish or composition that is being sung or played includes such an application.
Alternatively, some performers also introduce it as an element of surprise. But it is not a necessary element in this raag and usually teevra Madhyam is used in the aroha or the ascent and the shuddha Madhyam in the avroha or descent. Today, we will include tracks that include both ways of applying the Madhyams.
Patiala gharana maestro Bade Ghulam Ali Khan sings two compositions in Shuddha Sarang with no chromatic use of the two Madhyams. The compositions are set to a vilambit or slow 12-matra Ektaal and to a drut 16-matra Teentaal.
Bade Ghulam Ali Khan has sung the drut composition for a 78 rpm recording that predates the earlier track. Listeners will note that this interpretation of the same composition is quite different, and interestingly, the maestro has used the Madhyams chromatically.
On the next track, Shivkumar Sharma, whose name is synonymous with the santoor, plays an aalaap or introductory section followed by two compositions set to a medium tempo ten-matra Jhaptaal and to drut Teentaal. Once again, he too does not use the Madhyams chromatically. He is accompanied by well-known tabla player Shafaat Ahmed Khan.
Jaipur-Atrauli gharana exponent Padmavati Shaligram Gokhale presents two compositions set to Teentaal in Shuddha Sarang. She too does not use the Madhyams chromatically.
The final track features maverick vocalist Kumar Gandharva singing a composition set to medium tempo Teentaal. The composition has the two Madhyams appearing chromatically and the artiste too exploits this idea in the melodic elaboration.
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.