Sometimes I wonder what is it about classical music that peaks my interest. I usually tend to get bored of things and quickly pass them by once I get a little hang of it. I might have blown off so many things only because they couldn’t generate enough mystery to keep me going at them. Classical music on the other hand is like this unsurmountable mountain. No matter how much you keep going at it, it just keeps surprising you and manages to keep you at bay. And it might just be this challenge which completely stumps me and makes me want it that much more.
Or maybe, it might just be so since it’s so rich and pleasant.
My experience or history in classical doesn’t go back long. I think the first time I really looked up what a raag was when I watched the movie Khuda ke liye. It had a beautiful song, called Tilak Kamod (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-4mY5dcMe8).
Funny as it sounded, it was my first exposure coming from within, to the wonderful world of raags. The song, a very famous bandish in the said raag, went something like this – Neer bharan kaise jaoo. And it completely managed to bowl me over. I have gotten feedback on the same song from multiple people, and I have always had varying reviews on it. But for me, somehow that song reminds me of my introduction to classical music.
Tilak Kamod, is a beautiful raag belonging to the Khamaaj thaat. To begin with, I must make it clear, that I have no knowledge of this raag at all. Whatever I have noted is mainly from the feel I have generated by looking it up thousands of times in the last 5-6 years, and I may be completely off while defining it or jotting it down. But for some reason, it is my most beloved raag, and it has managed to make a special place in my heart. It’s a very melodious raag, and usually works with romance as its main theme. I feel that happens because of its wonderful weight on the pillar notes, Pa and Sa. Pa and Sa are the only two notes which don’t have a komal or a teevra side to them, making them the ideal resting place during the raag’s presentation. It’s a shaadav-sampoorna raag, meaning it uses 6 notes during ascent, and all 7 notes during descent. And it also employs its own magic, by the use of komal ni during descent. And you will figure it out, when and if I can manage to point it out so, as to why that one note makes so much difference when used. For example: In the second part of the song Neer Bharan Kaise Jaoo (mentioned above), the line goes, "Chanchal chapal hat nat khat, manat na kahu ki baat, binati karat main to, gayi re haar sakhi." In this line, the part where the song goes "binati karata main to", there is a subtle use of the komal Ni.
Let us look at the ascent and descent of the raag first, or as we call it, the aaroh and avaroha of the raag.
Aaroh – Pa Ni Sa Re Ga Sa, Sa Re ma Pa Ni Sa
Avaroha – Sa Pa Dha ma Ga Sa, Sa Re Ga Sa, Sa Ni Pa Ni Sa, Sa Re Ga Sa
Pakad – Pa Ni Sa Re Ga Sa, Sa Re Pa ma Ga Sa Ni
As you will have observed, the descent isn’t sequential. It meanders its way alternating between high and low notes, thereby creating a wonderful step-up step-down melody when played. It’s a night time raag, meaning it will often be sung, or rather, it’s true characteristic will only appeal when sung or heard at night. But then, if you ask me, this raag manages to conquer time itself, so the time of the day never actually mattered to me.
Because of its use of 8 out of the 12 notes, there is a lot to be explored within this raag. Also, its defining characters and its vaadi samvadi notes stress the fact that this exploration, though vast, is bound by a certain set of rules, and it is because of these rules, that the raag sounds what it sounds like.
When you give it a listen, you will immediately connect with it. The reason is, this raag is used widely in many compositions even in light/ semi-classical compositions. Because of its nature and the emotion it portrays, using this raag as the base for composing everyday songs becomes ideal. Of course, singing and emoting the real feeling requires a lot of skill and talent from the performer.
I will note a few famous songs, both in Hindi and Marathi. I will again try to play the notes for the song below:
1. Gagan sadan tejomaya – Sung by Lata Mangeshkar - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bpKU4WKnlY
2. Ravi me, ha Chandra kasa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKNH6j231ek Sung by Asha Bhosale/ Vasantrao Deshpande (and many others)
Anoushka Shankar recently came out with an album called Land of Gold. The instrumental piece Reunion is based off this raag. The composition is:
There are a lot of classical compositions. Ones which immediately come to my mind are:
I have managed to fall in love with this raag over and over again. No matter how many times I listen to it, it never ceases to please and amaze me. To me, this raag is like the cold water from a serene blue crystal clear lake, on a hot summer. It will refresh you like never before right from the first gulp, and will be something of which you just can’t have enough of.