I have covered Raga Bilaskhani Todi before. You might have heard my earlier release where I perform a Pallavi in Raga Bilaskhani Todi, with Shri Sanjay Agle on pakhawaj. In case you haven’t, you can read the cover notes to the release where I talk about the Raga, the story behind its name, and so on.
In my opinion, Raga Alapana is the most challenging type of performance in Indian classical music. This is because the slow pace of a Raga exploration demands a very precise presentation of phrases, swaras, samvads and intonations. Even slight errors can feel magnified because the mind has the time to process the music. Faster paced musical performances do not always lend themselves to acute and precise intonations because by the time the mind can process one musical phrase, a few more have already been played!
Raga Alapana gets even more tricky when one is dealing with Ragas which have the same scale but a distinctly different musical identity. Raga Bilaskhani Todi, Raga Bhairavi and Raga Komal Rishabh Asavari all have the same scale, and yet have a very different flavor, structure and emotional feel. The challenge in Raga Alapana is to keep the unique identity of each of these Ragas while presenting them. You can listen to a Raga Alapana in Komal Rishabh Asavari by following the link. Listen to both the Ragas. How do you think they are different? I hope to release a Raga Alapana in Raga Bhairavi as well, in due course of time.
Given its challenging nature, an extended Raga Alapana is one of the hallmarks of traditional Indian classical music presentation. Here, I present a Raga Alapana in Raga Bilaskhani Todi. Enjoy the music!
Raga Alapana is an improvisation and a systematic presentation of a Raga. Usually, it has three parts - Alap, Jod and Jhala. This format is also known as Ragam and Tanam. Raga Alapana generally has no rhythmic accompaniment, but occasionally, we perform Jod or Jhala or both to the accompaniment of a percussion instrument.
Here are some notes about the Raga.
Raga - Bilaskhani Todi
Scale - Sa re ga ma Pa dha ni
Family - Todi
Melakarta - Hanumatodi (Sa re ga ma Pa dha ni)
Prahar - 1st prahar (equivalent to 6 AM - 9 AM)
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. This scale does not have any Tivar notes. Notes written fully in lower case are called Komal (or flat) notes. E.g., re and ga above. Sa and Pa are always written with a capitalized first letter.
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 Raga Alapana in Raga Bilaskhani Todi: https://chandraveena.bandcamp.com/album/raga-bilaskhani-todi-2
Purchase CD quality audio of Pallavi in Raga Bilaskhani Todi: https://chandraveena.bandcamp.com/album/indian-classical-raga-bilaskhani-todi
Purchase CD quality audio of Raga Alapana in Raga Komal Rishabh Asavari: https://chandraveena.bandcamp.com/album/meditation-and-relaxation-raga-komal-rishabh-asavari