Raga Time

A new and unique audio compact disc

From dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn, the wheel of time spins, inducing myriad moods. Moods inspire Ragas. Join this melodic journey through time and experience a variety of moods and feelings expressed through precisely chosen Ragas, compositions and tempos.

‘Raga Time’ is masterfully conceived, composed, and presented by Dr. Madhu Nanduri, a direct disciple of Ustad Vilayat Khan.

The Concept

Amongst the most magnificent concepts outlined in the Hindu holy books, the concept of Time is indeed all encompassing, represented by the eternal Chakra or the unstoppable wheel of time in the universe. Hindustani Classical Music has its own unique interpretation of Time relating it inextricably with the Ragas, which in turn represent the different time of day and night. Accordingly, a day is divided into eight Prahars (quarters) of three hour duration each. There are four Prahars of the day beginning at 6 a.m. and four Prahars of the night from 6 p.m. All Ragas fall into one of these Prahars. Additionally, there are Sandhi Prakash Ragas - those that are designated to be performed at dawn or dusk, the transient periods. This album portrays the colors of all the eight Prahars. Simultaneously, it also showcases the variety of the ten Thaats (parent scales). Since the Ragas belonging to a Thaat may have very different designated performing times, Ragas from different Thaats were carefully chosen to represent the eight time Prahars. Two Prahars would need to accomodate the extra two Ragas. The mood of the time has dictated the style of composition, tempo and presentation of each Raga.

The Music

1. Dawn Awakening - Raga Ahir Bhairav awakens the soul with a perfect picture of tranquility. It conjures a vision of absolute calm, images of serene snow-capped hills, with a brimming river flowing silently. In the horizon, the sun heralds the break of day. This intensely meditative mood is vividly captured by the Alap (un-metered rendering of the Raga) in Ahir Bhairav. Incidentally, Ahir Bhairav is one of the Sandhi Prakash Ragas of the dawn variety.

2. Morning Splendor - Morning brings with it a vibrance and a flurry of activity. It is an epitome of the pulsating essence of life itself. Bright sunshine fills the sky with promise. The mood is one of intense devotion. Raga Gujari Todi celebrates the mood. A brief Alap sets the stage and is followed by a Drut (fast) Gat (metered composition) set to Teentaal.

3. Delightful Day - After the frenetic pace, it is time for a short break to soak up the sights of the glorious day that is shaping up. Raga Maand was originally not a Raga in the strict sense of the term but only a desi (folk) melody prevalent in the desert region of Rajasthan. Enamoured by its rustic beauty, Ustads and Pandits brought it into the classical fold. Thus Maand attained Raga stature over a period of time. However, it still retains its desi flavor and continues to be very popular in folk music. It can be sung or played at any time of the day depending on the mood of the artist. The artist gives it a light classical dhun type treatment in Rupak Taal.

4. Afternoon Fantasy - Afternoon carries with it moments of sweet solitude, of reminiscences of treasured moments with the beloved. The minutes tick by deliberately, leisurely. The heart is filled with warm feelings of tender love and sweet longing for the beloved. Raga Bhimpalasi is an afternoon melody and is one of the most beautiful romantic Ragas. It has immense scope for expression. The artist evokes the mood with the short Alap and the Gat in Madhyalay (medium tempo) Teentaal.

5. Sublime Twilight - The visual metaphor of the perfect union – Twilight. Dusk symbolizes the union between the last hours of the evening enfolding itself into the eager, waiting arms of the young night. It is a time for introspection. The fast approaching sunset evokes a feeling of anxiety and solemn expectation. The Alap in Raga Marwa captures the gravity of the mood. Marwa is a Sandhi Prakash Raga of the dusk variety. The Shadja (Sa) is very weak in this Raga and remains mostly in the shadows. Re and Dha dominate and create the mood.

6. Evening Exuberance - It is past sunset. There is excitement in the air. Rejuvenated and at once filled with joy, the heart bursts into song. The moment is expressed by a lively Dhun (light classical or folk song) in Raga Kamod, a romantic evening melody.

7. Night Mystique - The beautiful night filled with magic sways the soul with a lilt and rhythm of its own. Its time for a lively Dhun in Mishra Khamaj set to Dadra. Khamaj is a romantic raga particularly ideal for light classical compositions like Thumri and Dhun. Mishra Khamaj is a variant of Khamaj in which some foreign (accidental) notes are permitted occasionally.

8. Midnight Rhapsody - The soul is ecstatic with the desire for exalted expression. It is like a mighty river flowing majestically to the brim. The emotionally charged artist takes up the Raga Darbari Kanada for elaborate treatment with Alap, Jod and Jhala. The melody gradually picks up speed in Alap and enters Jod-Jhala phase where it plunges into a deep ravine with a thundering roar of cascading swara passages. This phase is particularly noteworthy for its exotic Bols (stroke patterns). Darbari Kanada is one of the most majestic Ragas of Hindustani music. It is always given a pre-eminent position in a concert and it demands the highest attention from the Rasikas (connoiseurs).

9. Pensive Acceptance - It is the wee hours of the night. The lover taking leave of his beloved after a memorable night is in a pensive mood with graceful acceptance of the impending end. The mood is presented by the Alap in Raga Lalit, a melancholic Sandhi Prakash Raga of the dawn variety. Its gait is Vakra (zigzag) and it is one of the most complex Ragas making mastering its intricacies very difficult.

10. Ultimate Surrender - Satiated with myriad moods, the soul turns once again inward toward the almighty. Seeking everlasting bliss, it surrenders with immense devotion. Sada Rangini (always colorful) Raga Bhairavi best expresses this feeling. It can be played or sung at any time although it is designated as an early morning Raga. It is usually performed as a concluding item of a concert due to its unsurpassed richness and color. Bhairavi is also a Thumri-ang Raga ideal for rendering light classical compositions such as Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and Dhun. A particularly noteworthy feature of this Raga is that it admits all other notes in addition to its designated notes in its rendition, if used with utmost care. It has been said that it may take a few lifetimes to get anywhere close to understanding Bhairavi’s depth. In this rendition, a brief Alap is followed by a Bhajan (a devotional song) in slow Dadra.