Night and Beyond: Ragas of Indian Music
Ragas and raginis, musical personalities of Indian classical music, are characterized by their tonal configuration and unique blend of feelings. Within the raga's voice lies a suggestion of our connection with time and nature.
Indian music is not so much about creating new forms as it is about preparing the artist to be a pure vehicle for melodic structures that have existed for centuries. Initially, the creative process through which a raga enfolds demands memory and reflection. As the raga develops and its emotive intent is stabilized upon the support of proper intonation, spontaneous improvisation frees the artist into an unbounded space. All the qualities of the raga's character ultimately appear everywhere without effort.
This CD begins with a raga of the early hours of the night, called Tilak Kamode. There is a short alaap (an introduction to the pure form of the raga) played on the sitar. Tilak Kamode is a melody that celebrates joy, delight and the sheer pleasure of being alive. An underlying tenderness pervades the entire melodic configuration. On track 2 I have played a sitar composition in the same raga. It is played in a cycle of sixteen beats known as teental and accompanied on the tabla by Abhiman Kaushel.
Track 3 brings us into the heart of Indian music with an extensive alaap in the raga Malkauns played on the surbahar, an instrument that has almost disappeared in India. The surbahar, with its rich and deep tonality is an ideal instrument for alaap, especially in ragas whose character is revealed in slow and medium tempos. Malkauns is a piece for the depth of night (around midnight). It is noble and profound suggesting a satisfaction with whatever mastery one has achieved in this life. I have tried to explore the entire technical panorama of the surbahar in this piece with a display of both the left and right hand techniques.
From midnight we skip to the early morning just after dawn with another surbahar piece in the raga Jogiya. The voice of this melodic form is distinguished by its profound sense of sadness conjoined with a deep feeling of renunciation. The sobbing melancholy of this raga indicates a sense of hopelessness about the inevitable condition of life and death. It is the song of impermanence.
Bhairavi, sometimes considered as the queen of ragas, is generally the concluding piece to a musical program. I have played a short alaap on the sitar in order to give the overall gentle and devotional character of this raga. It is filled with a sense of invocation and prayer and seems a fitting reply to Jogiya's helpless feeling of loss. The final piece is a sitar bandesh (composition) in the same raga, played in teental and accompanied by Abhiman Kaushel on the tabla.
From the Label
"Night and Beyond", Steven Landsberg's latest CD, finds the contemplative and soothing ground of Indian tonality and rhythmic intricacy. While the surbahar sections reveal a depth of noble and tender feelings, the sitar and tabla sections display rhythmic subtlety and genuine flavors of Indian music. There is something for all listeners here.See all Editorial Reviews
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