Raga Maru Bihag

Raga Maru Bihag

Nayika with instrument- Raagmala paintings 18th century

INTRODUCTION

In this article we will go through the popular raga Maru Bihag and look at its structure, history, musical theory and practical compositions with full notations, audio files and also some suggested further areas of investigation. 

This article can be used by students of any genre of Indian Classical music for general learning. The compositions are meant for instrumentalists in the main but are derived from vocal sources as always.

As with all of my writings, we will begin by focussing on the emotion and mood of the raga (rasa)  then get into technical details later on

Maru Bihag is one of the ragas where the emotion is readily felt, but hard to describe concretely.  My personal view of Maru Bihag is it falls into the Shringar rasa (one of the nine rasas or states of mind/emotional moods in the Indian- evoking emotions of romance, love, attraction  and tempered and sophisticated exhibition of the same. In other words, a sophisticated love affair 

It’s best to listen to some Maru Bihag before diving into the raga, and if one is short of time, the following song from the Bollywood movie Sehra [The flower veil] (1963) provides a precise encapsulation of the raga … which is loosely based on a classical piece..

Music direction was by Ramlal and lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri, directed by V Shantaram

As can be seen from the lyrics, it’s a love song between the leads of the movie…where each describes the other as love personified, consistent with the Shringar rasa 

Emotional Structure

Maru Bihag is a complex layered raga, one which appeals emotionally due to some key  passages overlaid on a base structure.

Let us delve into these layers. For more detail  please refer to the detailed section below

The base ragas:

Maru Bihag has two base ragas:

Raga Bihag on the way up: Aaroh (ascending): Bilawal Ang

Raga Yaman (Kalyan) on the way down (descending): Kalyan Ang

Let’s see how this works (illustrated in this audio )

The easiest entry point into Maru Bihag is to start with the base of Raga BIhag

A note on notation:

UPPER CASE : Shuddha Swaras.

Lowercase : Komal or teevra m,

Bold= Lower octave

Italics: Upper octave

N S G M P N S

And Yaman (Or Kalyan) on the way down:

S N D P m G R S

then, just change the Madhyam to a teevra

N S G m P N S

This basic form of Maru Bihag has sometimes been described as Raga Marga Bihag

Then, add a twist of Shuddha Ma and enjoy  the tension between the two Madhyams…

N S M…. emphasis point 

Then NS M M M G S,  S G m P 

Some additional twists to the melody:

Using a dash of Pa…

N S M M (P) G S 

We will take a break here for now and go to compositions. For those who are interested in the detail,  please refer to the Star Vistar (Note expansion) section for a fuller treatment of the key emotional passages of Maru Bihag

History

There are two conflicting accounts of the origins of this raga.  These are mentioned below. I have no information as to prefer one of these over the other:

Theory 1

I have heard Pt Rajan Sajan Mishra opine that Maru Bihag is the product of an ancient raga Maru (which is still performed in the Dhrupad tradition) and Bihag. A raga by the name of Maru also is found in the Sikh religious literature of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Theory 2:

This raga’s name is a misnomer and has nothing to do with the Maru Raga.

According to a few musicologists, the current form of Maru Bihag is attributed to Ustad Alladiya Khan – founder of the Jaipur Atrauli Gharana, although a second theory credits sarangi player Abban Khan  of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh with is creation.

Technical Section:

This is for those who want to deep dive into the raga structure

Classification

Jaati (Classification): Audav Sampoorna : ( 5 notes ascending, 7 notes descending)

Vadi (Most important/used note):  Various opinions:

Samvadi (second most important/used note): Various opinions

Opinion1: Ga , Ni 

Opinion 2: Pa , Sa

Opinion 3: Pa, Re

The main line of arguments among musicologists (these are essentially curve fitting exercises- great for theoretical understanding, but of limited use to the practitioner) are as follows:

Opinion 1: While Pa is an important resting point, it is part of the upper progression so not suitable to be called Vadi. And Sa is a given anyway, so doesn’t qualify. Also this raga is a mixture of Bihag and Kalyan and Ga Ni are Vadi Samvadi of this duo of ragas.

Opinion 2: Pa is a very important defining note and used heavily in this raga so  it qualifies. Most bandishes/compositions have Pa as their sum. It also is used in touches (nyas) in this raga, underscoring its importance. Hence Pa Sa is a more appropriate.

Opinion 3: Borrowing from Opinion 2, Re is an important defining point, bolstered by the Kalyan and of the raga and this gives the raga form.  However, there is another school of thought which says that the Re is simply a transition point to the more stable Sa. Eg. Re is a staging note only,

Take your pick !! 

Varjit (not allowed):  Re and Dha in ascending

Time: Night, 2nd prahar (late night)

Swar Vistar: 

Try these passages to get the feel of the raga

  1. S N, N S G, m G  (SR),SN…. .SN S ND P,  N S M G – m G SR S
  2. N S G,  m G R S R, S – S N,  P N S G,  S G m P , m P m G  R S
  3. G RS, N S M – G P,  m P D P m P m G, S m G R S,  P N S G m G m P,  D P, D m P, G m G m P,  P (mG), m G (SR) S
  4. G m P,  S m G , S G m P,  G m P D P, D P, P m G,  N D P, G m P , m D P, N – (DP) m G,  m G (SR) S, N  S G – (SR) S
  5. M G R , S,  N S G m S G m G, R , S  – m G m G R S, P m G, m D P, m G R S, N D P,  G m  P D P,  S – M G m P  , G m P S N D P,  D m P , m G, m GR S , N S D m P  N S G  (SR) S
  6. N S G m P,  G m P N, N D P,  G m P N S N, N D P, G m P N P, P G, m G S R,  S – N D P, P S , S N D  P, D m P,  m G, m G (SR) S
  7. P m G m P N S,  P N S R ,   G m P N S , N S R S,  P N S G R S, R S N S  SN,  (DN ) D P,  G m P, G m P N,  P N S, N R S N D P ,  S N D P m G (SR) S
  8. P m G m P N S, N S (ND) m P,  R S N S G, S R S, N S m –  G , m G  S R S, G m P  m G R S,  N S R S,  N S, N D P, G m G m P N D P,  D P, D m P, G m P m G , S M G m P S, N  D P m G (SR) S

Audio recording

Progressions

  1. N S G m G R S, N S G m P N D P m G R S, N S G m P N S R S N D P m G R S,  N S G m P N S R S N D P m G R S, N S G m P N S  G R S N D P m G R S
  2. G m G R S S, N S G m P m G R S S, N S G m P N D P m P G m G R S S, N S G m P N D P m P G m G R  S S, N S G m P N S N D P m P N N D P m P G m G R S S, N  S G m P N S R S N D P  m P G m  P N D P N D P G m P D P m G M G R S S
  3. m G m G R S, G m P P m G m G R S,  G m G P N D P D P m P m G m G R S,  N S  G m P N S N D P  m G m P N D P m G m P S N R S N , D P m G m G R S S
  4. N S G m P N S G  m m G R S  N D P m  G R S, N S G m P N S G R S N D P m G R S S, N S G  m P N S R S N D P  m G R S, G m P G m P D P  , G m P N D P m G R S
  5. S M G m P N D P, G m P , G m P D P,  S N D P, N D P G m P, G m P D P D m P S  M G m  D G N D P m P G m P N S N R S N D P m N D P m P G m P P, G m  P N S P S N D P m G  R S
  6. S N D P m G R S N, R S  N D P m G , G R S N D P m , R S N D P m G, G R S N D P m ,N D P N D P m D P m G,  m G R S S
  7. G m m G  m m G R SS, G m P N N P NN D P m G m P N S, P N S  R R S R R S N D P, G m P N S R N S G  m m G M M G R S N D P m G M P N N D P m G m  m G R S S
  8. N S G  R S, N P N  S R N S G R S N S  m G R S N S, G m P G P  m G R S N , S D P D m P m P  m G R S N, S M G m P  G P m G R S N , S D P D m P m P m G R S  N, N D P m, G m P S, N R S N D P m N D m D m G m G R S N
  9. P D P D m P G m G m G R S G m P N P N D P m P D P D P,  m P G m G R SS, S R S R  S N D P m P G m G , G G R S  N D P m P G m  G N N D P m P G  m D P D m P G m G P m P G m G R SS
  10. N S G m P , S  G m P N, G m P N S,  m P N S G m G R S N R S N D P m G  m P N S,   G m P m G R S  N D P  G m P N S  N S G m P m G R  (SR ) S

<<INSERT AUDIO HERE>>

Alaap Sample

D N…. D S…

(SNRS) N……. N S D  P

P N S G  …. R S 

N S G …G G G… SR R  (RS)N … P N S G  RS

NS  (P)G  … S G m P m P

G m P … P   … P D DPm … m P P G ….G  m D .. m D… mD P G …. P …R R S

N S  M … M M M G…. N S  G m m m G… n S G (m NDN)  m P…G R R S

PmP G m P  N…. N … N D NS ND P

G m P N DP  PD m m m P G m D m G  P RR S

Compositions

We now look at several compositions in this raga, in various speeds and talas.  These can be used to construct a performance.

Vilambit Teentaal (40 bpm)

Composer: Rahul Bhattacharya

Influence: Various (Ustad Shahid Parvez, Pandit Budhdaditya Mukerjee, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan)

This composition is presented with  its basic structure, then variations on it. The idea is to bring freshness and newness into the bandish as each avaratan comes along. The slow speed allows for spontaneous improvisation.. however, the variations must be progressive and not random thoughts (refer to Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, Ud Amir Khan et  al).

Audio:

Vilambit teental 40bpm Sarod

Basic structure:

/ –  – – -/  – – – – / –  – RN/ M   MM G SGPm/

/P  P P  – PP/ N–   -PD D -mP / G   RR S (RN – back to ) /

Variations: These are described in the audio file

1st : 0-14 seconds: 2nd line

/ –  – – -/  – – – – / –  – RN/ M   MM G SGPm/

/P  P P  – PN/ N(DP)—   -PD D(Pm) – (PmDP)   / G(P) RR S (RN – back to ) /

2nd : 1st line: 15- 23 sec

/ –  – – -/  – – – – / –  – R(S)N/ (S)M   MM (P)G(S)    SG-Pm/

/P…

3rd: 1st line 40 (mukhda on kharaj string)

/ –  – – -/  – – – – / –  – R(S)N/ (S)M   MM (PmP)G(S)    SG-Pm/

4th:  2nd line : 53 seconds

/P  P P  – P(SNRS)/  N— -PD D(Pm) –  (SGPmDP) / G(P) RR      S (RN – back to ) 

5th : 1st line: 1 min 11

/ –  – – -/  – – – – / –  – R(S)N/ (S)M   MM (PmP)G(S)    SG-Pm(SN)/

6th: 2nd line: 1 min 15

/P  P P – PP/(PDN      DP PP PDmG mNDP / G     RR S

7th  1st line 1 min 35

/ –  – – -/  – – – – / –  – RN/ M   MM G SG(PSn)/

Vistar

The vistar section is meant to further elaborate on the composition’s integration into the raga. It has no fixed format and is usually employed as a device to provide

Layakari

Aamad Peshkar

In this section (especially in sarod/sitar) a rhythmic exploration is undertaken. In this case, a simple peshkar ang phrase is demonstrated


Taans

Taan1 : 4 notes per beat

  1. PNSG
  2. NSGm
  3. SGmP
  4. GmPN
  5. SNDP
  6. nDPm
  7. DPmG
  8. mGRS 
  9. (MM

Taan2: 8 notes per beat

  1. PNSGRSnS,
  2. NSGMPmGm
  3. GmPNSND
  4. mDPmPmGm
  5. gmPmGRS x
  6. gmPmGRS x
  7. gMPMGRS (r N M

Compositions in Drut Teentaal (Fast 16 beats)

In Drut teental, the basic structure of most compositions is fairly similar.  The Sam is on Pa and the phrase used to arrive at it is G m P m P

Let’s start with a composition learnt from Pt Channulal Mishra of Benaras Gharana

Lyrics are:

Sthyai

More balma ajhu na aa yen

Mohe un bin kachu na suhaye

Antara:

Tadpat mohe kal nahi aawat

Naina jal bars aye

Notes:       / – – –   – / – – m       G / R S – N   / S G – m/ P –  – m / G – (m G /repeat

Lyrics:                                       Mo Re Bal Ma a / Ja Hu u   Na/ A a a a / Ye – (Mo etc)

Bols: All da strokes, X (Chikari) can be used for gaps if helps with rhythm

Layakari Vistar:

Taans:

Short taans start from 3

<<Insert notation>><<Replace this recording with a formal one>>

Note: Mukhda is truncated to S RS (starting from 10)


Composition 2 in Drut Teentaal

This composition was originally composed for sitar by Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan

Sthayi : Starts from 9

n s g  m pn m p

pmg

mdp mg mg rsr

Antara: Starts from 3

ddn  ppd ppg rrs

nsgm

pdpm

gmgr  sr

in C

Taan 1:

Starts from :5

ns gm pmp

sg mp dpd

gm pn sns

sn dp md pm

gm gr sn rs

Taan2

Starts from 9

ns gm pm gr

sg mp dp mg

gm pn sn dp

mg mp mg rs

Taan3:

Starts from 1

pn sn pn sr

ns rs ns gm

sg mg sg mp

gm pm gm pd

mp dp mp ns

nd pm gr s

Taan4

<<insert audio>>

1.

sn pn sn dp

np mp nd pm

dp mp dp mg

pm gm pm gr

sn sg mp

mg rs ns gm p

Taan 5:

<<insert audio>>

14

ns gm pmgr

sn sg mg rs

ns gM gr sn

sg mp mg rs

ns gm pmp

ns gm  pmp

ns gm pmp

Taan6:

<<insert audio>>

4

nd sn dp mp

dp nd pm gm

pm dp mg sg

md mg rs ns

ns gm pmgr nsgm p 

ns gm pmgr nsgm p

ns gm pmgr nsgm p

Taan 7:

<<insert audio>>

9

sn dp mp ns

nd pm gm p n

dp mg sg mp

mg rs ns rs

Taan 8:

<<insert audio>>

9

snd snd pm sndp mp ns

ndp ndp mg nd pm gm pn

pmg pmg rs pm gr sg mp

mgr mgr sn mg rs ns rs

Taan 9:

<<insert audio>>

1

sndp ndp dp ndp sndp

ndpm dpm pm dpm ndpm

dpmg pmg mg pmg dpmg

mgrs grs  rs grs mgrs

ns gm pn  sn dp mg rs ns 

Taan 10:

<insert audio>>

13

Pn sn pn sr

ns rs ns gm

sg mg sg mp

gm pm gm pd

mp dp mp ns

sn dp mp dp

mg rs ns rs

Taan 11:

<<insert audio>>

9

gmp gmp gm

pn sn dp mg

gmp gmp gm

mp ns nd pm

gmp gmp gm

gm pn dp mg

gmp gmp gm

sg mp dp mg

gmp gmp gm

ns gm gr sn 

ns gm gr sn

ns gm gr sn

Drut Ektaal Composition (12 beats)

<<insert audio>>

6

m gr ns gm

x pmg mp

grs

gm ps. n

gm pn. s x

10

sn dp  .

nd pm .

dp mg .

(mg rs

Taan 1:

<<insert audio>>

6

sn dp

nd pm 

dp mg

pm gr

mg rs

mg rs

(mg rs ns gm etc)

Taan 2:

<<insert audio>>

9

pn sg mg rs

ns gm pm gm

gm pn sn dp

gm pm gr s

mg rs ns gm .

ns gm.

ns gm .

pmg mp

Taan 3:

<<insert audio>>

2

(gm pn sn dp

gm pn dp mp

gm pd pm dp

gm pm gr s 

ns gm pmp

m gr ns gm

x pmg mp)

 x 3

Drut Ektaal Composition 2

<<insert material>>

Rupak Taal Madhyalaya

<<Insert material>>

Jhaptaal Madhyalay

<<insert material>>