Raga Bihag with Two Madhyams

Posted on 30 August, 20214 min read

Raga Bihag is a beautiful late evening or night Raga. There are two ways in which this Raga can be rendered. One version uses only the Komal Madhyam, while the second version which uses both the Madhyams. In the latter version, the Tivra (sharp) Madhyam is used as an Ati-shringar (subtle ornamentation) and a Hrasva (soft and short) note. Here I present Raga Bihag with both the Madhyams. The scale of the Raga as I present it is:

Scale - Sa Re Ga ma Ma Pa Dha Ni

As you can see from the scale above, it has four consecutive semi-tones - Ga ma Ma Pa - which can pose quite a challenge. These notes are used in accordance with the Lakshanas and Lakshyas of the Raga, and not necessarily as per their Krama (sequence). This Raga is also commonly performed without Tivra Rishabh (Re) and Tivra Dhaivat (Dha). However, in this presentation, Re and Dha are employed as Alpatva (very subtle and sparingly used).

Being one of those Ragas which uses both the Madhyams - Komal Madhyam (ma) and Tivra Madhyam (Ma), it creates quite a dilemma with regard to classifying this Raga. I have chosen to take Raga Bihag as a Janya (derivative) raga of melakarta Mechakalyani or from the family of Kalyani. This is based on my understanding and based on the way I have approached this Raga. Some musicologists do classify it under the family of Bilawal or melakarta Shankarabharanam.

In this presentation of Raga Bihag on Chandraveena, I present a Raga Alapana in three parts - Alap, Jod and Jhala also known as Alapana and Tanam. This alap performance is accompanied by a very unique drone (Tanpura) accompaniment track. This drone track is synthesized from a project called PureTones, and developed by Sadharani Music Works. It has been microtonally adjusted to precisely suit the scale of the Raga. Note how the Drone along with its harmonics merge into the notes and phrases of the Raga. If it sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out PureTones. This Drone is freely available for your use. Get in touch with us if you need any assistance.

Enjoy the music!

Program Notes

Raga Alapana in Raga Bihag

Raga Alapana is an improvisation and a systematic presentation of a Raga. This part has no rhythmic accompaniment. It has three parts - Alap, Jod and Jhala. This format is also known as Ragam and Tanam.

Here are some notes about the Raga.

Raga - Bihag

Scale - Sa Re Ga ma Ma Pa Dha Ni

Family - Kalyani

Melakarta - Bhashanga Janya Raga of Mechakalyani (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni)

Prahar - 6th Prahar (equivalent to 9 PM - 12 PM)

Reading the scale

In Indian Classical Music, the seven notes in an octave are called Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni and then Sa comes again. Notes with a capitalised first letter are called Tivra (or sharp) notes. E.g., Re Ma above. Notes written fully in lower case are called Komal (or flat) notes E.g., ma above. Sa and Pa are always written with a capitalized first letter.

Bhashanga Raga

A Janya (or derivative) Raga of a Melakarta which uses a note outside of the Melakarta notes. In this raga, ma (Komal Madhyam) is outside of Kalyani (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni).

Janya Raga

A Janya Raga is a derivative Raga from a parent Melakarta scale. The Janya Raga could be Audav (pentatonic), Shadav (hexatonic) or Sampoorna (heptatonic).


In Indian Classical Music, Ragas are classified into Prahars (time periods of a day or night) which are said to represent the most appropriate time to perform the Raga.



Chandraveena - S Balachander


Sadharani Music Works - https://www.sadharani.com

Purchase CD quality audio of the performance from https://chandraveena.bandcamp.com/album/raga-bihag.

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