Thursday, July 21, 2011

Raga Gaud Malhar

Gaud Malhar is an immensely popular compound raga, derived from Gaud, a minor raga most frequently added as a subordinate melodic flavour to major ragas, and Malhar, a major raga associated with the rainy season. The raga was originally conceived as Gaud in the purvanga [lower tetrachord], and Malhar in the uttaranga [upper tetrachord]. Like many compound ragas, Gaud Malhar has defined its independent evolutionary path, giving rise to several versions of it being in circulation. In recent years, however, there has been a tendency towards the homogenisation and standardisation of the raga form.

The currently dominant version treats Gaud Malhar as a variant of Mian Ki Malhar, the principal raga of the Malhar group. Its hyper-heptatonic tone material [S R G M P D n N] replaces the komal [flat] Ga of Miya Ki Malhar with a shuddha [natural] Ga. The phraseology of the contemporary Gaud Malhar tends to follow Miya ki Malhar, while retaining some melodic features of Gaud, which were probably more prominent in earlier versions of the raga.

S R S/ R G M/ G M R P/ M P D n P/ M P D N S’ (or) M P n D N S’ (or) M P D S’/ R’ G’ M’/ R’ M’ n R’ S/ S’ D n D P (or) S’ D P M/ G P M G/ M G M R/ M/ N R S

The raga is prescribed for performance in the three-hour period after noon. Authorities designate Ma as the vadi [primary dominant] and Sa as the samvadi [secondary dominant] swara of Gaud Malhar, and the uttaranga as the raga’s melodic centre of gravity. Traditional bandishes in the raga are found to have their mukhda-s terminating at Ma, Dh, or Re, or frequently even skimming through the phrase Dh-Ni-Sa.. On this evidence, and the evidence of the raga exposition as currently practised, contemporary practice does not consistently support the uttaranga bias of the raga appropriate to the Malhar group. Nor does it categorically establish the pivotal role of the designated vadi [Ma].

Deepak S. Raja
(c) India Archive Music, New York. Producers of the finest recordings of Raga Gaud Malhar.