Raga Kirwani

As part of the Ekalavya project, I’ll try and upload as many sarod bandishes/gats that I know of. The first post in this category is Raga Kirwani. It’s a popular raag which has the notes: S R g M P d N S (Caps= Shuddha, lowercase = komal, Bold= Upper Octave, Italics= Lower octave).

The reason it’s so popular is the melodious nature of the scale – it is identical to the harmonic minor scale of western music. In overseas settings, playing Kirwani is a safe bet, as the melody resonates with the audience.

Kirwani can be approached in a number of ways. Besides “strict” Kirwani, one approach is to bring in touches of  Jaunpuri and Darbari. A bit of musical license can be taken in bringing some of the moods of these ragas. In particular, I have adopted the Jaunpuri-ish ang in the phrase

R g M- P g M P g R

where a lot of sparsh/kampan etc can be used to evoke the emotion of pathos.

(note: I find written notations about ragas practically useless – these things are only explainable by playing or singing, which is why I’ve tried to keep notations only for the gat).

Anyway, here are some compositions that I’ve recorded raw on my Zoom H2 recorder at home: tabla sangat is by Mr. Taal Tarang of the digital gharana. I’ve played the basic gat, without too many embellishments and provided the notations.  Any mistakes/omissions/shortcomings are entirely mine.

1.Raag Kirwani: Vilambit Teental (Source: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan)


I heard Ustadji play this on TV with Sukhwinder Singh Namdhari on the tabla when I was very young. I have not formally learnt this piece, and so, it is possible that I have changed the original composition.

The notations are (upper octave in Bold,lower octave italics, komal swaras in lowercase)

12    13      14   15  16        1      2     3      4         5       6        7       8          9     10      11

PPd S   RM RS Nd       P-    P-   P-   RgR    M    MP    GR   RdP      G-    R-      S-

2.Raag Kirwani: Madhyalaya Rupak Taal (Source: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan)

I consider this one of the best rupak gats on Kirwani -period. It really brings out the flavour of the raga




6   7        1 2    3     4      5    6        7           1     2       3   4   5

Rg  Ni d  P- – –           g       S    SR    gPMP   g    g        S   R   S


6  7     1   2      3       4         5     6    7    1    2    3  4   5   6  7    1   2  3  4  5  6  7    1  2  3 4  5  6  7

Pd   S   S Ni      S –     NS  R N   N   d  P   –   – d     d d  –    P d  Pd N  d P  d P  –   R g

1   2   3  4  5  6  7   1 2  3   4  5    6    7

M M P g   R Rd P g g   R   g  Rg Ni d

3.Raag Kirwani: Drut Teental (Composer: Yours truly- Rahul Bhattacharya)

I was sitting on the lawn of my college trying to develop a “palta” which would exercise my fingers to breaking point. I hit upon this as initially as a palta, but then I turned it into a gat. This is not very emotionally satisfying – it is more of a benchmark test of how fast your left (or right) hand can move. The key challenge in this piece is to maintain the volume and clarity with string changes. I’m told that I used to play this piece better when I was younger. Anyway, here is the notation of the sthayi: I’ll have to spend some time getting the antara notation ready.




5     6      7   8   9  10  11   12   13  14   15  16  1

Rg RS Rg MP dP Mg R-  R   S    R    g    d   P

4.Raga Kirwani:  Another composition in Drut/Madhyalaya Teentaal (Source: Unknown)

This is a common composition – I have fiddled with the antara somewhat



12  13  14  15  16  1   2   3  4   5  6  7  8   9   10   11

d    P   g     –     S  R  –    –  R    –  g  M P  d    d     P

5.Raga Kirwani: Carnatic composition (Drut Teentaal) (Source: Shri VVS Murari)

In 2000, I played (possibly the first) sarod and violin Jugalbandi in Melbourne with visiting carnatic violinist VVS Murari (son of Shri V V Subramanyam). When we got together to decide the composition, Murari taught me this one:



9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  1  2  3  4  5    6  7   8    9  10   11  12  13  14   15 16

R M   P   g    R   S    N   P R  –   –   –  – –  –   –     S S P    d  M    P  G

1 2 3 4 5 67 8   9  10  11  12 13  14  15 16

– dMP gR  SN d   P   M   –  g  R     S  N

1     2       3      4   5    6     7     8

dP Mg  PM   gR Mg RS gR SN

Finally, this is a very recent composition:

6.Raga Kirwani: Drut Ektaal (composer: Rahul Bhattacharya)

My goal has been to adapt the popular drut ektaal khayal piece: “Tora bina mohe chain na parat ” (Without you there is no peace…) sung in Kirwani.

I had difficulty adapting it to the instrument – sounded a bit empty. So, I came up with this one:




1   2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12  1

P –   d Pg R Mg R S  R   g   P


1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12

P P d  S   –  S   SR S    –   S

1   2  3   4  5  6  7  8  9  10   11   12

N N  R  N  –  d  N  – d  P     –     P

1  2  3  4   5  6  7      8       9    10   11   12

d –  d   d   –  d  RR  MM RR  N   –      N

1  2   3   4   5   6   7   8 9  10   11   12

gP MP    –  GG    M    g R  S     R   g

I know a couple of other Ustadji’s gats, but haven’t put them here. You can find them on Youtube while I get their notation ready.



7 thoughts on “Raga Kirwani

  1. Rahul-ji,

    Thanks for sharing this lovely assembly of sound and knowledge! It will be a pleasure to return here to listen and contemplate deeply.

    I agree that notation seems nearly useless, but for my western mind it is helpful or at least reassuring to see the “recipe” expressed in writing…one day I hope to not need this sort of training wheels. So thanks again for your effort.

    1. Thanks John
      I’ve been away for a while, so have fallen behind in updating the site.
      Having to write the notation forces me to think through what I play – which is good for me I guess. However, it’s hard work sometimes, especially with complex compositions.
      I’ll upload a few more Kirwani compositions with notations soon.

  2. I have been looking for Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s Kirvani for a long time now. In the compact cassette days I owned a recording I had brought from London, later in the process of decadence of that playing system I lost it. It is the happiest note to find it with you.

  3. I am a student of sarod.. Your tune of kirwani helped me in understanding the raga better. I extend my regards to you for helping the students . Hope you will continue your effort for us. Thank you Rahul.


    1. Thanks for your comments. I might do a video on Kirwani with some extra material that I have learnt from various maestros…

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