Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Samay-chakra Ragamala in Ektaal

This is a Ragamala (or Ragamaalika) composed using 18 Ragas.


A traditional Ragamala is created using lyrics that embed the name of the raga in different forms ranging for wispy hints to explicit. This word (and sometimes its lyrical vicinity) is composed in the raga it refers to.


I set out to create a Ragamala that added the following constraints:

  1. Every Raga transition must change a small number of variables.
  2. Every line must contain at most one reference to a raga name, thus one line composed in one raga.
  3. Names of raga must have a subtle reference, not one that's as obvious as an oncoming train. (No "Gavat Raga ___", for example).
  4. It must weave its way through the raga farthest from Bhairavi, which is Raga Yaman.
  5. It must follow Samay Chakra rules. The Ragamala's cycle from Bhairavi through Yaman through Bhairavi should start in morning ragas, continuing through afternoon, evening, night and midnight ragas, before culminating in Raga Bhairavi.
  6. It must start and end with Raga Bhairavi.
  7. The lyrics of the ragamala must be semantically coherent towards a single theme.
These extra constraints make the ragamala challening to create and execute, but add the following value:
  1. They create an aesthetic and mellifluous piece. 
  2. Every line can be improvised without fear of a jarring transition. 
  3. A roller coaster of emotion and expression can be experienced. 
  4. The resultant soundscape is colorful and traverses the entire swar and shruti spectrum. 
  5. The time cycle of raga creates a sympathetic biorhythm that resonates with the human body and mind.
  6. Bhairavi, an evergreen raga is traditionally used to end concerts due to its long lasting effects on the listener's psyche. This raga ties the ragamala together, forming both its beginning and end.
  7. The themed lyrics will engage the listeners.

The Ragamala is created in praise of the Goddess Durga (also known as Kali, Parvati, Bhavani and Narayani, etc.)
माँ भैरवी भवानी [Raga Bhairavi]
जगत जननी ||
रक्षा करिणी || धृ ||
बैरागी मोहिनी || [Raga Bairagi-Bhairav]
बसंत मुख स्वरुपिनी || [Raga Basant-Mukhari]
जय जय भैरव तोशिनी || [Raga Bhairav]
माता ललिता नंदिनी || [Raga Lalit]
माया तोडी संसारिणी || [Raga Gujri-Todi]
मूल चक्र निवासिनी || [Raga Multani]
मधुबन उद्धारिणी || [Raga Madhuwanti]
दुख भय यम-नाशिनी || [Raga Yaman]
पुरण कल्याण करिणी || [Raga Puriya-Kalyaan]
महिषासुरमर्दिनी || [Raga Maarva]
विद्या वाचा कपर्दिनी || [Raga Vachaspati]
माँ कला तपस्विनी || [Raga Kalawati]
राग ताल स्वामिनी || [Raga Rageshree]
गोरख कल्याण करिणी || [Raga Gorakh-Kalyaan]
सुंदर शिवरंजनी || [Raga Shivaranjani]
दरबारी वीणा वादिनी || [Raga Darbari-Kanada]
मूंड़ माल धारिणी || [Raga Malkauns]
नादरंग आये शरण, ( नारायणी ) x ३ || [Raga Bhairavi]
Explanation
O Mother, Bhairavi, Bhavani!
O Mother of the universe,
O protector of worlds, keep us safe!
O enchantress of the great ascetic Lord Shiva (Bairagi),
The beauty of spring shining on your face,
O consort of Lord Bhairav,
O Goddess Lalita, Nandini (both names of Parvati)
O destroyer of desire and illusion,
O Kundalini residing at the base of the spine,
O liberator of Madhuban,
O conqueror of Pain, Fear and Death,
O bringer of fortune and wellbeing,
O killer of Mahishasur the Demon,
O Goddess of Intellect and Speech,
O eternal artist,
O monarch of music, raga and taal,
O uplifter of Gorakhnaath,
O beautiful wife of Lord Shiva,
O player of the celestial veena,
Wearing a necklace of enemies' skulls!
I bow to you, O Mother Narayani!

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