Raga Bageshri – Part 1

Of late, I’ve been studying and playing Raga Bageshri (variously called Bagesri, Bageshree, or Bageshri Kanada).  Bageshri is a grand raga, attributed to Thaat Kafi and is a staple of evening concerts. The time prescribed for this raga is evening to late night.

I learnt Bageshri when I was 7 years old from my first music teacher Smt Ruby Bose (wonder where she is these days). She taught me a drut khayal “Moha Liyo ” a Sadarang composition. As Bageshri is a staple of music schools, everyone learns it. But, like Yaman, it’s a ocean of a raga – the  more you delve into it, the further you can go.

Bageshri has the following scale :

 (italics – lower octave, bold – upper octave – Caps -Shuddha -Natural swaras, lower case – komal (flat)

Ascending: n S g M D n S

Descending: S n D M g R S

Bageshri uses the Pa beautifully to embellish the emotion of the raga. Pa has to be judiciously used, as too much or too little can ruin the raga character.

I start off with a slow (Vilambit) composition set to 16 beats recorded raw in my music room. I learnt this composition from Shri Sugato Nag, and it has Imdadkhani and Shahjahanpur elements in it. A number of other vilambit compositions are similar to this one:

The notations are (simplified form)-Starts from the 12th beat

Sthyai

S n D – M P g R D n S

D n SM g M D P D nD g-g R

S n D – M P g R D n S

Manjha – starts from 4th

N d M DD N S M g R N S

D P D n D g g M D N S

S N d M PP D M P D g R S – back to Sthayi

Antara

N D gg MM DD N S-S-S

SRRS N g g R N NSRSS

S N D n D  M D N R S- M

M g R S D N D – M PP D M P D g R S – back to sthayi

There is infinite scope to vary this composition and put in embellishments – that is the nature of Bageshri.

Next, I’ll do the Madhaylaya and Drut gats from various sources.

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