New Sarod !

I just returned from India as the proud owner of a new sarod….

Sounds great so far….

Here’s me practicing my eternally favourite raga Darbari Kanada on my new sarod…., playing both a slow alaap as well as a fast paced composition in 16 beats to check out the sound….

Raga Bihag: An uplifting melody


A most pleasing and enjoyable raga, Bihag is at once a very popular and common raga. On the sarod, practically everyone has played this at some time or the other. Associated ragas include: Maru Bihag, Nat Bihag, Hem Bihag and Pat Bihag (I heard the last one once, and have no idea of the repertoire…. will find out if I get the time)….

Bihag, also spelt Behag etc… is a straightforward raga

Aarohan: N(lower) S G M P N S(upper)

Avrohan: S (upper) N P, G M G

Bihag employs both the Major (Shudda) M and Teevra (Sharp) M…

The phrase GMG is a signature of Bihag …..

It evokes feelings of happiness, joy and celebration. According to some musicians (notably Ud Vilayat Khan), this is a raga for weddings.

Here’s a quick compostion in Vilambit Teentaal

Followed by a few compositions in Drut Teentaal (16 beats)

I really should move these to their own page-…

Bihag Jhaptaal composition is still in the works…


Raga Improvisation & Expansion


(Picture above: my hometown of Varanasi, India, famous for Indian classical music, especially tabla)

Ever wondered what musicians play after the main composition and how it’s structured?

Especially in the slow (vilambit) part of the composition, there are a number of devices and pathways available to the artist.

As a short example, I start with a very standard composition in slow 16 beat cycle in Raga Marwa-(notations provided below)…

The main composition is repeated a few times:

(italics: lower octave) Bold: Upper Octave, lowercase:komal, UPPER CASE: Shuddha

Starts from 12th beat.DD N rr G m D-, D m G r SS, N r N D

It is essential to maintain a very prominent Dha in the lower octave, to bring out Marwa’s mood.

Thereafter, the following expansion pathways are demonstrated:

-Vistaar (expanding upon the notes, with our without metre)

-Aamad: Rhythmic variations

-Bol – Taans with Bols

– Peshkar (rhythmic phrases)

Only a few short samples are provided, and the main composition is played over and over again – but these are just few pathways which can be explored in playing the raga…

Raga Jhinjhoti- Continued

Here is the first video of Raga Jhinjhoti – a fast (drut) composition in 16 beat (teentaal) followed by a variant of the same composition set to the same taal.

This composition is from the Shahjahanpur Sarod Gharana, and was developed by Abdullah Khan or Mohammad Amir Khan…

Originally meant for the sarod, this has been adapted on other instruments. The composition has several rhythmic accents, which take time to learn.

The notations are :

RR MM GG, DD nn P D S R  G (Sam)

-R M PD Sn R S nn D PD, M P DD MM g RG,

SS RR g SS n D nn

P D  S R G, S R M G (RR MM GG etc)

The antara is very complex and I’ve found that a lot of musicians leave it out.

G S R M P D n P D M, P D S R GGR R S


SS RG SS n D nn P D S R G, S R MG (RR MM etc)

The key points of this composition is to stick to the rhythm. As the composition veers off  the main beat, the rhythm has to be tightly controlled. Fortunately, the composition does not veer off randomly, it still maintains the flow of the taal, so can be learnt after some practice.

Here’s a Youtube video of me playing this composition, recorded at a practice session in my room…

Beautiful Ragas from the Khamaj Garden- Raga Jhinjhoti

Recently I played at the Independence day function for a local association, and ended up playing Raga Desh. Which made me think of other ragas which are related to Desh. In this category lies the beautiful raga Jhinjhoti. For some reason, Bengalis often call this raga Jhijhit…. not quite sure why….

Here’s a brief introduction to Jhinjhoti as I’ve leant it…

Raga Jhinjhoti

Thaat (Parent): Khamaj

Ascending: Aarohan: S  R M P D S

Descending: Avrohan: S n D P M G R S

Pakad (Distinctive Phrase):  P(lower) D (Lower) S R G – R P M G, S R G n(lower) D (lower) S

Jhinjhoti is a sweet raga, full of emotion and feeling. I visualise bright flowers in a beautiful garden when I think of Jhinjhoti. While it’s considered a light raga, there is no end to plumbing its depths….

In the instrumental tradition, the Shahjahanpur Gharana takes the honours for detailed treatment of Jhinjhoti. In particular, two compositions by Abdullah Khan and Mohammed Amir Khan demand special attention. They are rhythmic, bright, sweet and unique. Under the masters of Shahjahanpur, these have become part of the repertoire of a generation.

I’ll continue this discussion with the first of these compositions in Drut Teentaal.