Thursday, May 19, 2011

Raga Khambavati: A Jhinjhoti sibling

Khambavati causes occasional confusion by its name. In the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana of khayal vocalism, and only in that gharana, the raga commonly recognised as Rageshri is called Khambavati. Khambavati, as documented in authoritative texts, is a rare raga, which bears an affinity to the more popular raga Jhinjhoti. Khambavati belongs to the Khamaj Thaat, one of the parent scales used for the classification of ragas in the Hindustani tradition.

By way of tone material, and as a rare occurrence, Khambavati has two ascents, both intended to be used alternately.

Ascent: S R M P D S [or] S R M P N S. 
Descent: S n D P M G S. 

Chalan: [Skeletal phraseology]
1. S R n. D. S
2. D. S R M 
3. R M P 
4. D M P D S' [or] M P N S' 
5. D S' R' G' S'
6. R' n D P
7. D M 
8. G M S

The Vadi Swara [Primary dominant] of Khambavati is Sa, and the Samvadi is Pa.

Except for a couple of phrases in the phraseology given above (No.2, No. 4 option, and No. 8), all other phrases of Khambavati may be encountered in Jhinjhoti. Although the two ragas are differentiated by several other features, an instant identification of Khambavati, as distinct from Jhinjhoti, requires consummate musicianship. This identification depends largely on the early use of the Khambavati signature phrase, G-M-S, executed with a leisurely meend from Ma to Sa.

Other ragas, allied to Khambavati, are Mand and Sindhura, both considered to be songs, more than ragas. By virtue of its lyricism and limited phraseology, Khambavati does, indeed, share with these ragas, the characteristics of a song. It is therefore normally performed in slow or medium tempo, with low to medium melodic density. As in the case of Mand or Sindhura, high-density melody, especially tans, are considered aesthetically inappropriate in Khambavati.

Deepak S. Raja
(c) India Archive Music, New York, producers of the finest Khambavati recordings.