Friday, January 26, 2007

The Magic of Malkauns at Midnight

Like western classical music, the roots of Indian classical music are religious. But while western classical music emphasizes harmony, Indian Classical Music is based on melody and rhythm. A Rāga specifies a set of rules for building the melody, and the rules for constructing melodies are different in different rāgas.

Different rāgas activate different emotional states. Pandit Ravi Shankar refers to a Sanskrit saying ‘Ranjayathi iti Rāga’, which means ‘that which colors the mind is a rāga'. In addition, each rāga is associated with a particular time of the day or a season of the year.

Malkauns is a rāga to be played in the midnight hour. Listen to this rendition of the Malkauns by Ustad Bismillah Khan. His instrument is the shehnai. If you have attended Indian weddings, you must have heard the lilting sound of the shehnai wafting in the air.

[For uninterrupted listening: click on play, immediately click on pause, and let the music buffer for some time - till the grey line reaches the end]

Bismillah Khan was an epitome of simplicity. He lived a spartan life in the city of Varanasi, also known as the 'city of temples and learning'. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor. Read about his performances at Delhi’s Red Fort here.

A good way to remember rāgas is to identify them by the tune of film songs. Here is a song (from the famous movie Baiju Bawra) based on Malkauns, sung by Mohammad Rafi. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Mike said...

Amazing piece! Thanks for sharing.