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The Ravi Shankar Collection - Three Ragas (1956)

Pandit Ravi Shankar

Tambura Player
Pradjot Sen
Tabla Player
Chaturlal (Pandit)

About this album

One of the lesser known facets of Ravi Shankar's artistry is his uncanny understanding and use of the whole gamut of rhythmic of Indian music. It is quite unlikely that a person not intimately involved with the finer aspects of our music, either through actual study or long association, would detect this in his recordings or concerts in this country.

1. Raga Jog:
This evening raga expresses the yearning of a longing soul. Alap, Jor and Jhala followed by a gat in slow, medium and quick tempo in Teental - a 16-beat rhythm consisting of four symmetrical groups of four beats.

2. Raga Ahir Bhairav:
A morning raga of devotional mood with a tinge of pathos. Free improvisation and a Gat in Rupak Tala - the seven-beat rhythm sectioned in 3, 2 and 2.

3. Raga Simhendra Madhyamam:
A raga of Carnatic origin. Free improvisation and a Gat in Jhaptala - a rhythm of ten beats grouped 2+3+2+3.

Our music is based on the raga, and our ragas run into the thousands. Ragas are melodic forms based on parent scales known as Melas, which number 72 in all, and ascending and descending fixed model scales. Ascending scales are called Arohan, and descending are termed Avarohan.

Each raga has its own character, color and mood, which build an atmosphere appropriate to the time of day or night, season or occasion. Indian musicians constantly go through feelings of adventure and excitement, as do their listeners, as they create and improvise within the set limits and fundamental rules of the ragas and talas.

The Gat starts the second phase, and here the tabla, or drums, join in. The Gat is a fixed composition, usually with a time cycle ranging from two to 16 bars. Gats are slow, medium or quick tempo, and have their own developments and variations where the musicians again have plenty of scope for improvisation. The Gat generally ends with a crescendo, played vary fast, known as a Jhala.

The drums beat out the rhythmic structure of the piece and maintain the time cycle of the Gat. These time cycles, talas, are 360 in number, having from three to 8 beats, or matra. The divisions are very important. For instance there are various talas which differ in their division of beats. The main stress, or the one principal beat in a rhythmic cycle, is known as the sum, and in a song or Gat the composition continually coincides on, or is held together by this sum.

Indian music is modal by nature, and though harmony may be present in its simplest form, it is inherent rather than deliberate. For the better and finer enjoyment of Indian music. Western audiences should forget about harmony and counterpoint or the mixed tone colors which may be considered the prime essentials of a symphonic or similar work, and relax rather in the rich melody and rhythm, and with the exquisitely subtle inflections through which the atmosphere of raga is built up.


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