Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Samay-chakra Raagmala in Ektaal

This is a Raagmala (or Raagmaalika) composed using 18 Raags.


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


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

  1. Every Raag 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 raag.
  3. Names of raags must have a subtle reference, not one that's as obvious as an oncoming train. (No "Gavat Raag ___", for example).
  4. It must weave its way through the raag farthest from Bhairavi, which is Raag Yaman.
  5. It must follow Samay Chakra rules. The Raagmala's cycle from Bhairavi through Yaman through Bhairavi should start in morning raags, continuing through afternoon, evening, night and midnight raagas, before culminating in Raag Bhairavi.
  6. It must start and end with Raag Bhairavi.
  7. The lyrics of the raagmala must be semantically coherent towards a single theme.
These extra constraints make the raagmala 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 raags creates a sympathetic biorhythm that resonates with the human body and mind.
  6. Bhairavi, an evergreen raag is traditionally used to end concerts due to its long lasting effects on the listener's psyche. This raag ties the raagmala together, forming both its beginning and end.
  7. The themed lyrics will engage the listeners.

The Raagmala is created in praise of the Goddess Durga (also known as Kali, Parvati, Bhavani and Narayani, etc.)
माँ भैरवी भवानी [Raag Bhairavi]
जगत जननी ||
रक्षा कारिणी || धृ ||
बैरागी मोहिनी || [Raag Bairagi-Bhairav]
बसंत मुख स्वरुपिनी || [Raag Basant-Mukhari]
जय जय भैरव तोशिनी || [Raag Bhairav]
माता ललिता नंदिनी || [Raag Lalit]
माया तोडी संसारिणी || [Raag Gujri-Todi]
मूल चक्र निवासिनी || [Raag Multani]
मधुबन उद्धारिणी || [Raag Madhuwanti]
दुख भय यम-नाशिनी || [Raag Yaman]
पुरण कल्याण कारिणी || [Raag Puriya-Kalyaan]
महिषासुर मर्दिनी || [Raag Maarva]
विद्या वाचा कार्पर्दिनी || [Raag Vachaspati]
माँ कला तपस्विनी || [Raag Kalawati]
राग ताल स्वामिनी || [Raag Rageshree]
गोरख कल्याण कारिणी || [Raag Gorakh-Kalyaan]
सुंदर शिवरंजनी || [Raag Shivaranjani]
दरबार वीणा वादिनी || [Raag Darbari-Kanada]
मुंड माल धारिणी || [Raag Malkauns]
नादरंग आये शरण, ( नारायणी ) x ३ || [Raag Bhairavi]

Explanation
Oh Mother, Bhairavi, Bhavani!
Creator and protector of the universe.
Enchanter of the great ascetic Lord Shiva (Bairagi),
The beauty of spring shining on your face,
Consort of Lord Bhairav,
Oh Goddess Lalita, Nandini (both names of Parvati)
Destroyer of desire and Maya,
Kundalini residing at the base of the spine,
Liberator of Madhuban,
Conqueror of Pain, Fear and Death,
Source of all fortune,
The Killer of Mahishasur the Demon,
The Goddess of Intellect and Speech,
The Eternal Artist,
The Monarch of Music, Raag and Taal,
The Uplifter of Gorakhnaath,
The Beautiful wife  of Lord Shiva,
The Player of the Celestial Veena,
Wearing a necklace of enemies' skulls!
I bow to you, Oh Mother Narayani!